A 252nd GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
First, a group of three composers of stage musical
active, if not very active, in the 1960s. Tony Russell was involved
with the jazz scene though the scores of his two musicals were not particularly
jazzy. The Match Girls (1965, premiered at Leatherhead and revived
at the Globe the following year where it had 119 outings) and God
Made the Little Red Apple, staged in Manchester in 1969. The
Hoppy Dance from The Match Girls was published as a piano
solo. Kenny Graham was responsible for the scores of Three
Musketeers?, first heard at Margate in 1962 and then transferred
to the Lyric, Hammersmith in 1963, and 4000 Brass Halfpennies
(Mermaid, 1965). These both achieved some success though the critics
savaged the latter for the "derivative" quality of the music.
And Bob Harris, who acted in the original Bristol Old Vic cast
of Salad Days in 1954, provided both lyrics and music for Our
Boys, produced at Farnham in 1963.
Writing incidental music for films, TV and radio is
still, seemingly a growth industry with many people becoming involved
in it. One I have not so far mentioned is Sian Burns, whose latest
(February 2002) foray in this direction is music for BBC Radio 4’s Stendhal
serial The Charterhouse Parma.
Norman Higgins, who was active particularly
in the 1970s, wrote and published piano music for dancers to practise
to, published indeed by the Royal Academy of Dancing. However some of
his pieces might have a future as recital items, notably Butterfly
Dance and Scherzo (1976), Andantino (1977), Two Folk Melodies
(1977) and a Waltz in E.
Finally, the 1930s were a great period for the themed
orchestral suite. Haydn Wood and Eric Coates wrote dozens
of these between them; others published two, or even one, like H.
Bick, whose A Visit to the Insect Zoo had three movements:
Grasshoppers’ Holiday (shades of Ernest Bucalossi!), Butterfly's
Lullaby and Bumblebees’ Wedding (a little reminiscent of
Mendelssohn, though he was not responsible for the Bees’ Wedding
title). Bick’s orchestra was quite a large one, including two saxophones.
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.