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A 326th Garland of British Light Music Composers

First a few mentions for "library" composers mostly active around the mid 20th century. Raymond Beaver (the name is suggestive, was he related to Jack Beaver?), for miniatures such as Brave Heritage, Distress Signal and Satin Slipper;Chris Leonard (Pink Lilac and Brassy and Bold); Stuart Crombie, for Jubilee Sport,Show Opener and Unawares - he collaborated with other similar composers like Bruce Campbell, previously noted, andDennis Barry, who assisted with Jubilee Sport and Show Opener and apparently penned Gymnastic March on his own;George Cruikshank for Village Green; Reg Casson for Bowin' and Scrapin';Frederick Noyes whose Heavy Agitato was used for a radio adaptation of Somerset Maugham's spy thriller, Ashenden, in 1947; and Claude Vane for Big Dipper.

But light music is not, contrary to what many of its enthusiasts may think. composed only for orchestra. To finish this Garland here are a few composers for piano who have contributed. First Sally Phillips, with her Two Pictures of 1970 (March of the Toy Soldiers andWaltz of the Dolls). Linda Phillips was, I believe, no relation; her Butterflies and Noon both date from 1958.Arthur Pickles' portfolio for mainly younger pianists included such pieces as Cap and Bells (1954), Ripples (1969),Seaside Holiday (1959) and Ship Ahoy (1970). In 1924 M W Pusey published three light concert studies viz Romance, Petals in the Wind and The Chase. Just twenty-five years later Clifford Phillips penned Cradle Song to a Prince , who was of course Prince Charles of Wales; he was also responsible for a Scherzo-Caprice for piano and orchestra.

Still with piano composers, Eva Pain composed the suites Fancy Dress Scales for teacher and pupil and the solos Lullaby, Reflections, Ruritanian Dance (1952) and To Horse and Away. I remember Sidney Harrison both as pianist (he played the Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody in Sheffield in 1950) and teacher, on TV during the 1950s; he also composed, a suite The Voyage, in five movements - Outwards Bound, based on Early One Morning, A Calm Night, Hornpipe, In a Strange Land ( Procession) and Homeward Bound - and a Fantasia on Brother James's Air. E Kershaw published a number of short piano solos mostly in Yorkshire, including a March On Parade (1918) and Daffodils (1920); So did Leon Navarro and about that very tine, examples being The Spinning Wheel and Elle et Toi.

Philip L Scowcroft

Nov 2002

A 327th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Dominic King , born in 1953 and educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, is better known as a pop music composer and lyricist, including musicals and films, but apparently one of his most exciting moments was to hear his march Knights of the Garter, for H M The Queen, performed by a military band.

W Piercy was active particularly in the 1920s - in the pre-library music era. He was an inveterate arranger and compiler of orchestral medleys. His own orchestral compositions included a march Naughty Girl, the 'grand valse tragique' Pathétique and a Gipsy Idyll.

Gerald Norman Peterkin was born in Liverpool in 1886 and spent a substantial part of his life (1925-47) working for OUP. He composed music for ballets and other stage productions, plus orchestral pieces, songs and partsongs. His suite for piano Betel-Jade-Ivory (1920) was probably a reflection of the eight years Peterkin had spent in the Far East.

Harold Ramsey , born in 1904 in Great Yarmouth, was brought up in the US but he later returned to his native country where he became a theatre organist. After some years he re-crossed the Atlantic where he lived successively in the States and in Canada where he died. His compositions, which are primarily for organ included Treasury, Was Love a Dream?, This Lovely Rose, Britain Remember and Rodeo March.

Finally, brief allusions to two recent composers for the BBC: Ansell Broderick for Radio 4's adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories; and Andy Blaney, for BBC1's drama-documentary George Eliot - a Scandalous Life - a sometimes and perhaps appropriately so modestly astringent score.

Philip L Scowcroft

Nov 2002

A 328th Garland of British Light Music Composers

First we have a few brief mentions of composers who wrote primarily for piano in the 19th century or just afterwards.

From the mid-19th century there was John Pridham, known in his day for example Yorkshire Bells. The Hop Pickers and, especially popular and indeed transcribed for orchestra, The Battle March of Delhi, presumably celebrating an heroic episode in the Indian Mutiny campaign. From rather later we may recall one A Kennedy for his Star of the Sea and Walter Harrison for The Bells of Yorkshire.

Coming closer to our own time and looking at composers who have mostly written primarily for young performers, there are: Joan Last, with the piano suites The Four Seasons (1946), Alphabetically Yours (in 26 movements), The Astronaut, Carnival Procession,Six Gay Dances, Country Outing, Explorers, Farmyard Parade, Pantomime Pictures andMiniature Dance Suite and the miscellaneous piano movements The Day's Play, At Home, At the Zoo and By Sea and River; Barbara Kirkby-Mason, for her piano suites Modern Society and Native Corner (both 1961), and the individual pieces In Summer Fields, The Mad Sailor, The Plastic Soldier and Two Southern Sketches; John Hugh Russell for his suite for keyboard, Our Village (1959); Dennis Todd, best known for his short choral songs, but he also published in 1961 the Tom Sawyer Suite, six movements for piano based on Mark Twain; and Henry Duke, a prolific arranger and a producer of musical teaching manuals and also the Five Impressions, Fresh Air Fancies and Country Holiday Suite (1959) all for piano solo and two books of piano duets, Flight of the Swallows and Partners.

Finally a mention for Lucinda Mason Brown for her score for Radio 4's adaptations of Maigret in late 2002.

Philip L Scowcroft

Nov 2002

A 329th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I have, I believe, previously mentioned John Lain, born in Chingford, Essex in June 1933, who composes songs and instrumental pieces under the name Johnny McLain, but more information has now become available, much of it from John himself. His portfolio now (2002) amounts to about one hundred compositions. Many of these are vocal with titles like Muzak, The Poop Scoop Song, Could it be love?,Why Don't They Write The Songs? performed many times in the 1990s by Tony Jacobs with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Dream Awhile, Now You Have Gone, Make Music and Lazy Afternoon, not to mention settings of The Lord's Prayer which has been recorded and Psalm 23, about to be published.

His eclectic style takes in elements from jazz, popular religious music and the library music of the past half century. His experimental titles show the breadth of his inspiration: Serendipity, admired by Gordon Langford, Soliloquy, Symphonette,How to finish a symphony in one easy lesson, Requiem for Tony (in memory of Tony Fones), Kirsty - In Melancholy Mood, The Forest at Dusk, On Christmas Morning, Window Shopping, Busman's Holiday, The Wedding Train ("locomotive music" with a brief allusion to Wagner's Bridal Procession), Swinging Down The Aisle, Smarty Pants, Boy Blue,Sleepy Serenade, Dicky-Dangle Boogie, dedicated to Neville Dickie, Spring Chicken, Mock Turtle's Dance,Holiday for Horns (Millennium Malarkey), Charisma, the waltz Feeling Bluesy, Dance of the Zombies,Valse Azure, The Piper of Dreams, Crazy Paving Waltz, All in Good Time, Avril, Simplicity, Solitude, Pan Pipes on Parade, Spanish Waltz based on a Spanish dance by Granados, and the marches Cup Final Day (which recreates the pre-football match atmosphere in the days when a band was always present) and Bobbies on the March.

Two composers for military band earn brief mentions as a coda: John Hillier for the Broadlands March in honour of Earl Mountbatten and a concert overture Mary Rose; and Major Calum Grant of the Light Division whose compositions include Heritage and the bugle march, Jubilee.

Philip L Scowcroft

November 2002

A 330th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Here is another list of composers, all from the era 1955-85, all of whom wrote mainly tuneful piano music for young performers:Fred Bailey (Nocturne, Rooftop Ballet, Underwater Ballet), Sybil Barlow (Flight of the Bat, Footsteps after Dark, Midnight); Lindley Evans (Holiday in Australia,Tally Ho!), Joyce Edgington (Little Night Fancies, Cat's Delight, The Hopeful Traveller,English Village Suite and for six hands one piano, A Gay March); Leslie Fly (Holiday Pictures, London Pictures, River Scenes, Mayfly, A Child's Garden, each movement headed by quotations from R L Stevenson, and much else for piano, plus Sea Tang for clarinet, Jessie Furze (In Time of Spring, Scenes from Holland, Waltzing Mice, Isle of Sark, Windmill Land and The Western Isles for piano, plus the Lollipop Shop and other songs); Ivor Reginald Foster, especially prolific for piano (Three Rhythmic Pieces, Midsummer Memories,The Waterwheel and Dainty Lady are just a few examples) but who also produced short solos for clarinet and flute;Eric Grant (Derry-Down-Derry, Siciliano and Chimes, Marching Towards the Morning etc, all for piano); andMargaret Judd, another big producer (Crinoline Dances, Dawn, Jolly Roger, Rondinello, Jane's Gavotte, John Gordon's Bouree, Rain-Drops, Papillons, In a Gondola, Irish Hills and much else for piano, plus songs).

Two orchestral composers from earlier in the 20th century, say the 1920s, are worthy of brief mention: Langton Williams (the "mazurka brillante" Fairy Footsteps and Sparkling Cascades) and William Smallwood (Introduction and March and Rosebud Waltz).

Finally for a note on (Wilhelm) Myers Foggin (1908-74), educated at the Royal Academy of Music, pianist, conductor, musical professor and Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society. He composed too, light piano miniatures like The Lame Centipede (1957) and Changing Guard (1959).

Philip L Scowcroft

December 2002
 


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