The number of British light music composers clamouring for
my attention is seemingly never-ending. Here are twenty more names to
add to an already enormous list.
First two more composers which we may categorise as 'classical' rather
than truly 'light'.
FRANZ REIZENSTEIN (1911-68) was German born and came to
England in the 1930s. Among a list of compositions which was basically
classical we can point to the Jolly Overture of 952, music for films
from 1951 onwards, mainly horror movies, the satirical Concerto Popolare
written for one of the Hoffnung extravaganzas and a number of lighter
suites for piano solo like The Zodiac and Musical Box.
born in Barry, South Wales. in 1906 (she lived until 1977) was
educated at the RCM and in Vienna. Welsh folksong was always an important
element in her basically tuneful output and we may convincingly argue
that her Fantasia on Welsh Nursery Tunes of 1940 is light music and
similarly the choral suite, The Dancers; she composed an orchestral
fanfare Castell Caernarfon for the present Prince of Wales' Investiture
in 1969. (see David Wright's
Now for a sheaf of ballad composers.
FRANK LAMBERT active around 1900 composed a Barque at Midnight,
Night Has a Thousand Eyes, She Is Far From The Land, Farewell Thou Outward
Ship, The Song of the Mill Wheel, all of them songs, plus piano miniatures
like Valse Caressante.
songs were popular during the early years of this century; they
include titles like Crossing the Bar, The Fortune Hunter, Summer Rain,
Autumn Days, The Sea Gipsy, Coming Home and Flower Fetters plus the
cycles Bow Bells: Five London Silhouettes and the (three) Songs of the
From roughly the same period comes ARTHUR M GOODHART
who composed The Bells of Clermont Town, Give Me The Flower,
Mary, Sweet Lavender and most popular, A Fairy Went A Marketing - Goodhart
also contributed to a composite set of variations for piano on Tipperary
when that song achieved enormous popularity in around 1914; The Irish
woman ALICIA ADELAIDE NEEDHAM,
whose titles included The Exile: s return, My Dark Rosaleen, The
Donovans, All in the Morning Early, Four Ducks on a Pond (from a cycle
for four voices a popular form at that period - of 1914 entitled A Branch
of Arbutus), The Fairy's Lullaby and possibly best known of all, Husheen,
the ninth of Twelve Hush Songs; and LOUIS CAMPBELL-TITON
whose a Spirit Flower (1908) and The Crying of Water were
published in London (he may possibly have been American). From a slightly
later period (i.e. between the wars) CHATER ROBINSON
produced ballads like Dream Doors, A New-Fashioned House, Peter
and You and I, also orchestrated genre movements like the intermezzo
In Slumbertime and the waltz Confidence.
Now let me mention two figures who were best known as arrangers. AUBREY
, active between the wars, arranged folk tunes and pot-pourris of
martial., maritime and African tunes. His arrangements are I understand,
(1904-69) worked for the BBC as secretary, pianist and disc jockey
(she was one of the first female DJs and her semi-classical programme
'These You Have Loved' is remembered with affection by the present writer).
Although she was a pianist - she was often heard in double piano harmony
with HARRY S PEPPER
- her arrangements were primarily for male voice choirs. Again these
are still used; they comprise pantomime and plantation medleys and settings
Finally here are a few more composers of light orchestral miniatures.
Earliest of these is THEO BENDIX
who was active during the first two decades of this century. Composer
of the morceaux caracteristiques The Butterfly (particularly popular
with orchestras then) and A Southern Reverie, A Hungarian Romance, A
Norwegian Episode., the Mazurka de Concert: Memories of Vienna and a
suite A Love Episode in Birdland whose four movements are entitled The
Merry Lark (A Japanese Flight), The Broken-Hearted Sparrow (A Pathetic
Appeal), The Gentle Dove (A Love Song and The Magpie) and the Parrot:
(1886-1945) composer of the air de ballet Pavlova may have been
born in 1921 was a pianist with experience in dance bands before
during and after the Second War and later in traditional light music
ensembles. He developed his arranging skills in music publishing just
after the war. Most of those original compositions date from after 1960
and thus suffered from the decline in interest in light music. His titles
include the orchestral suites Tres Senoritas, In the Shadow of Vesuvius
and a Petite Suite and many individual genre movement: Happy Hacienda,
Pepita, Sombrero and Bossa Romantica are all in Latin American style,
ever a popular standby for 20th century British light music composers
while Shopping Spree, Brighton Belle (named after the train of course)
and It's Spring Again. All sound, from the titles, like attempts to
write 'production' or 'library' music. Several of his many popular songs
appeared under the name of RON GROVES.
, who died in 1976, also wrote popular songs and light orchestral
miniatures of which we may instance Sid's Tune.
particularly active in the 1950s and 1960s is remembered mostly
for his marches with titles like Piccadilly, Birdcage Walk, Path of
Glory and best known of all as it was the original signature tune for
Match of the Day, Drum Majorette, not to mention other 'production'
music' titles for Chappells library such as Morning Canter and Important
Roughly contemporary with Steck and Franks and a composer of songs
under the pseudonym of PETER HENLEY
was HAL EVANS
who wrote much incidental music for BBC Radio such as A Christmas
Carol. The Four Feathers and The Water Gypsies which latter score includes
parts for celesta, glockenspiel and a barge siren.
W LAMBERT WILLIAMSON
was another in demand at that time for music accompanying BBC radio
productions (for example Laura and Bicycles) .
born in 1946 has composed much vocal and instrumental music in an
approachable style of which we can instance: Manx Dances, Elizabethan
Dances, Dance Overture, A Saturday Overture and a Sussex Overture (Malcolm
Arnold also wrote an overture under this title); for string orchestra
Divertimento and Little Suite; for wind band Delta Dances; and for brass
another Little Suite. EDWIN THOMAS ASTLEY
(1922-98) went into the world of music publication after service
in the Second World War, as an arranger for Francis Day & Hunter.
He composed much for TV - some of his scores like Robin Hood and The
Saint - were big earners - and large screen films such a the 1962 version
of The Phantom of the Opera and many documentaries. He could afford
to (more or less) retire in around 1980. Still very much active is JOHN
whose large and small screen scores seem, to this writer at any
rate, to have been associated with ships - most recently he has provided
the background music for the Hornblower TV adaptations.
© Philip L Scowcroft.
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.