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A 277th Garland of British Light Music Composers
Reynell Wreford, active around the mid 20th century, touched several areas of the light music scene: music for radio, e.g. Only a Rose (from Hortie Maria) and from 1953, The Last Rhapsody (from Practice for Murder); songs like He now forswears, the instrumental Romance in Springtime orchestrated by Harry Dexter, the two part Lilac Spotted Gown and the seven pieces, Poems of the Past; and stage pieces. The latter embraced revues, like Yorick, from which the song I Know Something was published, and musicals, The Bells produced at the Irving Theatre in 1955 and – a joint venture with H C G Stevens, Poppy. Stevens is credited also with a number of light songs, such as The May Fly and Rabbits and Sheep and Geese.
We remember Percy M Young, born in 1912, as a prolific writer about music (and at times football), as a stimulating lecturer and as an arranger and editor of older music; in this latter direction we may mention the suites King James’ Pleasure and A Seventeenth Century Suite and an engaging rescue act of more recent work, the suite for strings from Elgar’s unfinished opera The Spanish Lady, most certainly an addition to the light music repertoire. He composed too: the ten song sequence Birds and Beasts – including a Mad Hatter’s Song! – and the unison song, The Sailor’s Consolation.
Mervyn Dale, whose floreat we may put at the 1960s to the 1980s, arranged prolifically. His own compositions including various solo and choral songs suitable for children (e.g. Nonsense Songs, to Edward Lear lyrics) and a number of lightish piano solos – Harlem Scherzo, Royal Wedding (1981), Polonaise Napolitana and On the Banks of the Serpentine.
And finally to Douglas Simpson, born in Australia and educated at the University of Adelaide but now resident in England as Director of Music at Doncaster’s Priory Place Methodist Church. He tells me that major influences in his compositional output are Bartok and Stravinsky but as that output includes choral and vocal works for schools – ‘musicals’ – he naturally draws on more popular influences. Examples include The Dream Inheritors, Venus in Eritrea and Sandringham Down Under. The latter, 15 catchy numbers, was assembled and part-composed in England and staged by a primary school in July 2002. His song collections include Let The Children Sing, Let’s Sing, Songs of the Journey and various others suitable for performance in schools.
  Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002

A 278th Garland of British Light Music Composers
We mention first Olly Fox whose compositions include the incidental music for BBC Radio’s adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel Shirley, broadcast in July 2002, the latest in quite a long line of music inspired by the literary works of the Bronte sisters.
Now for three figures who have inter alia published a few instrumental pieces which we may regard as light in character. Philip Cranmer, born in 1918m was at varying times Professor of Music at Queens University Belfast and Manchester University and an able pianist. Apart from several arrangements, his publications have included music for organ and church services and, on the lighter side, the unison song Calico Pie, to words by Edward Lear and at least one Sonatina (1981) for piano duet. John Wray also published arrangements and in 1947 a Capriccioso for viola and piano. Derek Neville is worthy of mention for his Dream Fantasy, arranged some time in the 1950s by Frederick Charrosin whom we have discussed in previous Garlands.
Sara Newberry is yet another who has composed music for young amateurs; her best known title being The Quangle-Wangle’s Hat (1984), again to words by Edward Lear, for speaker, recorders and piano. Leslie Coward is best, perhaps only, remembered for his ballad Wand’ring the King’s Highway, a solo which has also been arranged for male voice choir. Another ballad of his is I Only Knew, while his orchestral Daydreams could be heard during the 1950s. While on the name Coward, one thinks of the (unrelated) Henry Coward (1849-1944). Liverpool-born but particularly famed as a choir trainer in Sheffield for many years. His works included a number of solemn Victorian oratorios – on the lighter side, however, there was his ‘humorous glee’ The Hunt.
  Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002

(279 is missing at the moment)

A 280th Garland of British Light Music Composers
We will start with a reference to Ruth Gipps, born in 1921, pianist, conductor and composer, usually of serious large-scale works, symphonies, concertos and choral items, but her list of compositions does also include a few lighter effusions, for example the Wealden Suite for orchestra and some radio incidental music, for example for a feature entitled Phosphorus. George Oldroyd (1886-1951), Yorkshire-born is remembered, if only just, as an academic and an organist and as a composer of sacred and secular choral pieces and organ music (sometimes this sounds strikingly Elgarian) but he did also write songs, at times ballad-like, such as In Dreams Fleeting. Peter Oldham may or may not have been related to Arthur Oldham, previously garlanded; as he published a Sonatina in C minor for piano solo in 1947 we may perhaps mention him too.
Norman Beacroft is particularly associated with the Salvation Army, for whom he has written a large number of arrangements and compositions for chorus and brass band. Among the band publications we may instance, purely as a taster, a selection of Spirituals and the marches Bournemouth Centennial and Westward Ho!
Our film/TV composer on this occasion is Guy Michelmore, once a BBC newsreader and son of broadcaster Cliff Michelmore. He has been particularly involved with scores for wildlife programmes including Cousins and the recent Talking With Animals (2002).
Finally two brief mentions for Howard Brockway (1870-1951) for his Armenian Wedding March and David Long for his march Whitehall Warrior.
  Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002


A 281st Garland of British Light Music Composers
Music for tourist-type videos is normally taken from pre-existing scores, but I came across one very recently for the town of Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway in the Scottish Borders for which the attractive music, laid out for a small instrumental ensemble featuring then harp prominently, had been especially written. The music was credited to Ali Anderson and Peter Fenton. I should not be surprised to hear more of them.
Now for three ballad composers. H T Smith is really known only for one song, A Little Peach in an Orchard Green, but for W J Scanlon I found two titles, both of them perhaps more music-hall numbers than ballads: Peek-a-Bo and Terry my Blue-Eyed Irish Boy. Both were active during the early years of the 20th century. Our third composer, Joseph Leopold Röckel (or Roeckel) (1838-1923) came from a family of German musicians but as he settled in Bristol, so we reckon him English. His ballad titles were also often British or sometimes Irish: Do as They Do in England, Green Isle of Erin, The Children in the Wood, The Charmed Cup, The Stormfriend, Hungarian Love Song, I Couldn’t Could I, In the Old Old Way, Jack to Jeannie, Jeannie to Jack, The Skippers of St Ives, A Song Without Words, Two’s Company, Wishes and Fishes, Two’s Company, Three’s None, Woman’s Way and particularly well known Angus Macdonald. He composed much for chorus, too – cantatas as did so many Victorian composers, examples being Mary Stuart, The Angel’s Gift, and The Hours from which a Graceful Dance was extracted, and short part-songs, the 24 two-part Songs of Nature and The Skippers of St Ives which was originally for four-part male voice choir. Some of the piano pieces were lightish too: a Hibernian Suite (Love Song, Lament, Irish Jig) which was arranged by another hand and a miniature entitled Spinning Wheel. He contributed considerably to the English musical scene as a teacher and as a composer.
  Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002

A 282nd Garland of British Light Music Composers
First we have a sheaf of Victorian ballad composers, several of whom were quite prolific. Howard Paul, for example, wrote - among many other titles – A Bad Lot, The Dog Show, Here’s My Heart and There’s My Hand, The Impudent Puppy, The Turkish Land, Captain Pink, Up the Thames to Richmond and You Can’t Say Truly Rural. Or Harry Linn for Known to the Police, Going Down the Hill, Never Be Downhearted Boys, Pull Slow and Steady Boys and Where There’s Life There’s Hope – clearly a “stiff-upper-lip” composer if ever there was one. Then there were Fred French, whose titles included Rustic Young Beauty and Martha The Milkman’s Daughter, J E Carpenter, whose duets The Wind and the Harp and We Are fairies of the Sea were quite popular, Harry Brown for the solo As I Strolled Along the Thames Embankment and Fred Coyne for Cruel Jane Jemima and The New Jerusalem.
Many Victorian balladeers were, of course, ladies and new names to these garlands include: Emma Day (I Would If I Could), Louie Sherrington (I Should Like to be a Fairy, Paper Wings, Sweet Early Violets and Call Him Back Before Too Late), Nelly Power (The Fisherman’s Daughter and Up in a Balloon, Girls) and Kate Hesley (Granny Snow).
Alfred Mellon was a conductor of the London Musical Society 1858-67 and also a composer of ballads like I Never Can Forget and of a comic opera Victorine which was popular enough for at least three of its songs to achieve publication.
Finally a mention for an earlier 19th century composer as lightish songs by him were adapted during the 20th century. Joseph Augustine Wade (1801-45) had his song Meet Me by Moonlight adapted by Granville Bantock in 1914 and another song, Dave Was Once a Little Boy (from an ‘opera’, Two Houses of Grenada) was arranged around the same period by Liza Lehmann.

Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002


A 283rd Garland of British Light Music Composers
Several surnames recur time and time again in these surveys, Clarke, for example – we have previously dealt with Cuthbert Clarke and R Coiningsby Clarke. Others have included Reginald Clarke, whose floreat included the 1920s, composer of ballads like At Parting and The Ladies of St James, the rather later Elizabeth Clarke, who published There’s a Bluebird on Your Window Sill in the 1940s and the earlier Emilia Clarke whose ballad titles included Heart’s Delight, Kisses and Kisses, Sincerity and That’s All. Stanley H Clarke, born in 1897, and from St Anne’s (Lancashire) published songs such as Under the Lanterns, Toddling Whoam and Lancashure Lullaby; he is also thought to have composed light orchestral pieces and a choral setting, For the Fallen.
Another ballad composer was Harriet Ware, again from early in the 20th century, who was responsible for Joy of Morning and A Junk From China. Other ladies worth a brief mention are Rosabel Watson for her baroque pastiche incidental music for the play The Rose Without a Thorn and Mary Webb for her salon-style piano solo Twilight Tapestry, published in 1940.
We have previously included Vivian Dunn (1908-1995), Principal Director of Music to the Royal Marines, 1953-68, but we should not forget that the Dunns were a military music dynasty to be reckoned with the Godfreys. the Millers, the Winterbottoms and the O’Donnells. Vivian’s father Wilkie James (“Paddy”) Dunn (1875-1937) was a military bandmaster who retired in 1935 as Director of Music to the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) whose compositions included marches (Bravest of the Brave, Brabazon and United Empire) and fanfares. His brother August Joseph Dunn (d. 1923), clarinettist and military bandmaster, latterly of the Royal Artillery Mounted Band composed the quick-step Quatre Bras, and also for military band, L’Affaire d’Amour (1906). Paddy Dunn’s younger son, Vivian’s brother, Geoffrey (Chiffer) was musical too.
  Philip L Scowcroft
July 2002

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