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A 303rd Garland of British Light Music Composers

First for a clutch of composers active in the mid-20th century or after: Thomas Chandler for his march The Britisher (1954); Peter Clare for his mood music miniature Brazilian Serenade and others for Mozart Edition; Peter Cooper (b. 1918) whose Tango-Caprice (1959), arranged by Charles Mackerras achieved some popularity; his namesake Kenneth Cooper (b. 1920) appears not to have had orchestral movements like Dance of the City Umbrellas, Piano Polka and Tarantella della Fiesta published.

Francis M Collinson , born in 1898, achieved much exposure on BBC Radio in the post-1945 era for his arrangement of literally hundreds of traditional melodies and also composing incidental music for radio features such as Hans Andersen, Carnival for Twelfth Night, Robin Hood, War and The People of China, Sensations, London Magazine, County Magazine (Hampshire – for which he wrote a four part sequence comprising Autumn Evening, Broadhalfpenny Down, Hampshire Scene and Village Churches), Voice of Britain, The Bermondsey Story, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Wallingford Story.

Finally for a few more music hall song exponents. Two of them, Will Bentley, composer of A Case In Point (1925) and Daisy Hill who wrote Sez You (1935) were also singers. E A Searson’s Soup (1916) was popular in the Great War, while Bert Lee was a prolific composer for the halls and for revue about that same period, on his own account with titles likeEdward Henry’s Mother and Fares Please (The Train Conductor Girl) and in collaboration with, for example,Fred Allendale, T C Sterndale Bennett, Reg Low and Harris Weston.Fares Please which celebrates perhaps the largest number of women conductresses in the Great War should not be confused with the later (1932) song Any More Fares Please? which had music by Martin Garden.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 304th Garland of British Light Music Composers

We begin with a piece of Victorian dance music, the valses, The Rose of Raby, by one J E Boynes, who is otherwise unknown to me. I encountered a copy of this on display, appropriately enough at Raby Castle, County Durham, the copy being inscribed (in ink) ‘1895’, though I suspect the valses were composed prior to that date. The Rose of Raby herself goes back much earlier, four centuries indeed, as she was the mother of the Yorkist boys, Edward IV and Richard III.

Now for still more music hall song composers. Leslie Harris, also a singer, wrote The Ladies ’Penny Paper (1897) and much else for the Victorian music hall. From Edwardian days we have J A Mclaren with The Simple Life (1910) andGeorge Formby senior (real name George Booth) who died in 1921, also a singer in the halls, withI Am Standing At the Corner of the Street, John Willie Come On and Playing the Game in the West; his son George Hoy Booth (George Formby, junior) (1906-61) followed him as a singer/entertainer, making the ukulele a household instrument in the process, with numbers like When I’m Cleaning Windows and It’s Turned Out Nice Again - he appeared in many films.Charles Coverdale’s Back Answers, associated with Robb Wilton, appeared in 1923, Michael North’s Ask Me a Riddle, in 1938.

Sir George Job Elvey (1816-1893) was Organist of St George’s Chapel, Windsor (1835-82) and, naturally enough, his output comprised religious music of all kinds, anthems, services, psalm chants and oratorios, but he was also responsible for often lightish solo songs and partsongs. His Gavotte, A La Mode Ancienne appeared in a Henry Wood Prom in 1898.

Finally, brief mentions for three composers, primarily for orchestral compositions: A Doring for his march Distant Greeting (early 20th century), Draycott Dell (whose floreat was, I believe, in the 1930s), for the suiteThe Forest of Memory (three movements: The Spirit of the Downs, Trembling Leaves, A Woodland Whisper) and W Merrick Farrar for his suite Stranger in London (Soho Fair, Ninette in Bond Street, Sleepless City) – the metropolis has been a never-failing source of inspiration to composers – and, from 1957, Variations on a Rock ’n Roll Theme.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 305th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Alan Bousted , born in 1931, was well known as an arranger and as a producer of teaching manuals, especially for wind players. He has composed too, his publications including A Little Suite for piano and Bucks Round (1976), a rondo for orchestra.

Others who have composed light orchestral music included: Percy Gaunt, for his novelty The Village Orchestra;W Gibson, who penned, jointly with Charles Ancliffe, previously covered, the “two-step intermezzo” Huetamo;Emile Grimshaw, exemplified by another two-step, Lancashire Clogs, and one A Hale, for hisCornish Suite, whose four movements include Prelude, Three Knights From The West, Adam and Eve and The Foray. John Harbison brought out music for The Merchant of Venice (for strings – orchestra or quartet) in 1973 though otherwise he is known for vocal music.

Two composers from the circa 1900 ballad era were Ellen Wright, with titles like Fidelity, In My Garden, The Parting Hour, A Song of Roses, Spring Again, Violets and, sung by Charles Santley, The Queen’s Shilling (This last song was done at a Henry Wood Prom in 1896) and Eric Baring, whose The Lads of Donegal andAn Indian Brave’s Song (both these were performed at the Proms in 1904) and Three Light Lyrics (Prudence, Worship and Pretty Little Kate) also published.

Finally for two more music hall composers from around that same time. Leslie Harris’s songs included The Ladies Penny Paper (1897), When The Minister Comes to Tea (1902) and Had The Old Noah’s Ark Got Wrecked, his soliloquies Christmas Bells, The Serial Song (described as a “humorous scena”) and The Soliloquy of an Old Piano. Quentin Ashlyn appears to have been less prolific, only The Bassoon, which was admittedly very popular, achieving fame.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 306th Garland of British Light Music Composers

First of all, a mention for Roy Green, some of whose songs like Sitting on Top of the World were popular, but who was best known for his arrangements and compilations of medleys, notably for Friday Night is Music Night around 1960. Two more arrangers-cum-composers wereRaymond Jones, who had most of his pieces, arrangements and compositions, like Hay-Day (1959), published by Mills Music, andPeter Kane, who, for Paxton, compiled medleys, such as Yule-Tide Memories (1949) and composed orchestral miniatures like Rhythm of the Clock, that particular one in collaboration with Eddie Hunt.

Mentions now for three other mid-century orchestral compositions: Home Guards March by R C Leaver; Three May Day Dances (Jack in the Green, May Queen, Maypole Dances) by L Jarrett and A Legend of Erin by Eleanor Johnson.

Finally, as part of my long-running recollection of the names of music hall song composers, there is Fred Leigh, whose best known titles were Send For a P’liceman, Mary Ann, She’s After Me, Put On Your Ta-Ta Little Girlie, The Horse The Missus Dries The Clothes On, Don’t Dilly-Dally (known to many as the Cock Linnet Song) and, from 1906, and written in conjunction with George Bastow (one of many Leigh collaborators), The Galloping Major, a much arranged tune, for example byGordon Jacob for orchestra and Darrol Barry for brass band and one used in a 1951 film of that title for which Georges Auric wrote the score.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 307th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with another group of primarily orchestral composers known for just one or two items: Bill McGuffie for Highland Hue (1959), Scottish Ayr (1960) and Simple Simon; Oscar Naylor for Three Irish Scenes, visiting Sligo, Ennis and Limerick; W Piercey for Gipsy Idyll, the march Naughty Girl and the ‘grand valse tragique’ Pathétique; and two Boosey composers, E Mackenzie, for The Keltie’s Kourtship and the humoresque, The Coster’s Courtship and J H Pitt for the library miniature, Fairies’ Glen.

Light music is not of course light orchestral music . Sally Phillips (no relation to Sid or Woolf, as far ar as I know) published in 1970A Little Suite (Lullaby, Merry-Go-Round, A Gay Dance) and Two Pictures (March of the Toy Soldiers andWaltz of the Dolls). Nicholas Marshall wrote some radio incidental music (eg for The Dauntless Girl and Westward Ho!) but is probably best remembered for his recorder trios and quartets and other instrumental teaching music.

Our ballad composer on this occasion is Felix McGlennnon for such songs as Comrades, As The Church Bells Chime, Sons of the Sea, In the Morning and The Ship I Love.

As we have seen before, many organists have made contributions to the light music repertoire; another name is Thomas Tertius Noble (1867-1953), sometime Organist of York Minster, and after emigrating to the States, concert organist. His cathedral music is still sung; lighter effusions include songs, short organ pieces among which we may exemplify the Elizabethan Idyll of 1915 and a Morris Dance from music for a York pageant.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 308th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin yet again with a group of mid-20th century figures remembered (if at all) for one or two orchestral titles: Cecil Rayners for the entr'acte Dance of the Little Robins and Elfin Serenade; Michael Rogers for the Hi-Fi Polka; Alfred Ralston, a prolific arranger and conductor in the light music theatre in the 1960s and 1970s whose best known original composition was the three minute miniature Stage-Door Johnny, for piano and strings. Frank Rayston for Thistledown (1952) and Pat Ryan, at one time principal clarinettist with the Hallé Orchestra, also a prolific arranger and an occasional composer of, for example, Bando Lero and Gypsy Courtier.

The publishers' recorded music libraries, with their treasure houses of mood miniatures were at their zenith in the 1950s and 1960s. We have remembered in previous Garlands many of the more famous British names (though foreigners like Roger Roger and Paul Bonneau, to name but two, also became involved in the lucrative business) but here are a few lesser known ones, all associated with Chappell's RML, with one or more examples of their work:Johnny Hawkesworth (Angry Mob, Hipster and Cafe Au Lait), M Young (They Are Coming),M Stern (Capricieuse), S Logan (Minuet in F) and G Ballington ( September Ballad).

Cecil Harry Jaeger , sometime Director of Music, Irish Guards, wrote a number of marches in the 1950s and 1960s and at least one of them, Double X (1967) was taken up by Chappell's RML; other titles included Blue Plume (1957, done in both military and brass band versions), Paddy's Day (1960) and Tent Twelve (1965).

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

A 309th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Let us begin with a ballad composer from the very start of the Victorian period. C H Purday was a respected bass singer who also composed many of the songs he sang: The Old English Gentleman, The Greek Sailor and He Went Where They Had Left Her, all being performed by a soprano appearing on the same bill when he appeared in Doncaster in 1835.

Now for several more mood music purveyors active in the 1960s: C Sauvage (for Inferno and other pieces) and Frederic Peters whom I exemplify by ElectroMind and the Chevalier March, who were active for Chappell's Recorded Music Library, the first two pieces being used for the TV series The Prisoner. Michael Stanton's Sale Time was written for Francis, Day & Hunter, 1955, Barry Tattenhall's Heyday and Vie de Plaisirs for Bosworth.

Finally another sheaf of composers for the music hall, beginning with Kenneth Lyle, active in the Pre-Great War period with Following a Fellah With a Face Like He, I Know My Business (The Meessenger Boy), Give It To Father,I'm The Idol of the Girls and from 1907 Jolly Good Luck to the Girl Who Loves a Sailor. Harry Carlton, composer ofConstantinople, Sing a Song of Sunshine, Encyclopaedia, Mickey Mouse, You've Got to Blow Your Own Trumpet, Up in the Air Will Go Our Troubles, I'll Have to Ask My Mother and Don't Sing a Song About Mother, plus many others with collaborators. These collaborators included Henry Castling, credited on his own account (he too had many collaborators) withDon't, It'll Make You Wild, Leaving Home, March, What Angeline Says Goes and Treasures of Home. And there was William Hargreaves, celebrated most of all for Burlington Bertie from Bow; other titles included Delaney's Donkey (1921), Give My Regards to Leicester Square, and We All Went Marching Home Again. He too had his collaborators in the song composition business.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2002

 


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