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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

A 263rd GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

In a real sense this Garland stems entirely from just one song of 1915, The Song of Songs (subtitled Chanson d’un Coeur Brisé, or "Song of a Broken Heart") which I heard very recently in transcription as an encore in a concert given by the Missenden Piano Trio. Their copy attributed the piece – dated 1915 and almost too archetypal a Palm Court number – to "Moya". Further research elicited that this was a pseudonym for the pianist and conductor Harold Vicars, whose only composition of note this appears to be, although he contributed numbers to a musical comedy Where’s Uncle in 1904.

The Song of Songs was, apparently, originally indeed a song. Consequently the version I heard was itself an arrangement, credited on the copy to "Langey". It, or its accompaniment, also had sundry arrangements by Howard Carr, H.M. Higgs, Eddie Griffiths, Gilbert Stacey and Reginald Tilsley. These arrangers are worth a few words in their own right(s), though Carr and Higgs have received the Garland treatment previously.

Otto Langley (1851-1922) was German–born but he spent much of his life in this country. He was a prolific producer, of arrangements (titled, for example, Brahmsiana, The Emerald Isle, From the Highlands and Sounds for England), instructional material and many lightish orchestral compositions of which we can instance the ballet caprice, Dance of the Debutantes, Evening Breeze, for strings, the overtures Liberty and Uncle Tom, the "ländler", Two Little Comrades, with parts for two solo violins, the "coaching carol" Merry Postillion, the barcarolle Gondolier and Nightingale (represented a solo flute), Three Oriental Sketches, Two Scottish Dances and a Serenata Neapolitana.

Eddie Griffiths was in demand post-1945 as an arranger, producing, among other things, medleys for "Friday Night is Music Night". Gilbert Stacey, whose career spanned both World Wars, also made many arrangements and published a miniature for strings Bellissima; mostly, though, he composed lightish songs with titles When Evening Shadows Fall (1918), Up the Gunners, Down in the Gardens at Kew and Though It’s Only a Dream. Reginald Tilsley flourished in the 1950s and 1960s as an arranger of, for example, orchestral medleys like Welsh Fantasy and, from Scotland, Into the High Hills and orchestrations of individual traditional items. He composed, too, his orchestral inspirations including the Overture to a Horse Opera, Little Donkey, Marine Parade, Paris Soir and, dated 1961, Leicester Square Lament. The Tortoise and the Hare was described as a "fable" for orchestra with narrator.

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2002


Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount

DONCASTER

S YORKS DN2 5PJ

Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.

E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at rob.barnett1@btinternet.com


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