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A 331st Garland of British Light Music Composers

To start with, a few Victorian worthies. Alfred Lee’s songs were heard both in the music-hall and in more sober concerts ( Meet me in the Willow Glen figured in one such in Doncaster in 1861). Another song celebrated the achievements of Captain Webb on swimming the English Channel. Still another, Mrs Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was appropriated by Elgar for one of his early wind quintets (the title of it, that is). The New Electric Light and The Telegraph Girl celebrated mid-Victorian inventions. Purely comic imaginations were the very popular Champagne Charlie and The Man on the Flying Trapeze, plus others like I Couldn’t Help Laughing,Many Happy Returns of the Day, Three Jolly Humbugs, The Three Sailors of Bristol Citee, Wo-oh! Emma! and When You Wash a Nigger White.

Two late 19th century purveyors of dance music based on stage shows were F.R. Kinkee: (Utopia Lancers, The Chieftain Lancers and Polka and Jane Annie Lancers and Waltz) and Leonard Williams, connected with the Williams music publishing firm, Grand Duke Lancers and Quadrille, Rose of Persia Lancers, Emerald Isle Lancers, Merrie England Lancers and Tom Jones Lancers.

H.F. Leslie (1822-1896) also got in on that particular act in the Chieftain Quadrille, but he is best remembered for his often ballad-like songs such as Annabelle Lee, The Four Jolly Smiths, The Golden Year, O Memory and Speed on my Bark, Speed On.

And finally for two more light music writers for the piano. June Weybright set Two English Folk Tunes (Oh No John and Polly Put the Kettle On) for two pianos in 1942. And Stanley Wylie’s piano solo Mink and Pearls achieved some popularity when it was published in 1957.

Philip L, Scowcroft

December 2002.

A 332nd Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with still more writers, basically for piano: Andrew Adorian, active in the 1960s and 1970s, published Nine Little Portraits and a Circus Suite (derived from a film), plus a Serenade Basque for cello and piano. From around the same period there was Robert Barclay-Wilson, who, while he did compose many vocal pieces, also brought out many light piano pieces and examples of these are Lullaby (1960), The Blithesome Scot (1961), Little Ballerina (1961), Pop Song without Words (1971),Caprice (1974), Three Contrasts (1974) Follow-My-Leader, Merry-Go-Round and Waltz. And Geoffrey Edward Flowers published a piano solo Cockleford Mill (1958) and A Plaintive Air and, for woodwind and brass quartet A Miniature Suite.

Next for a group of composers known, at any rate to me, primarily for orchestral compositions. Several of them effectively ‘one work’ composers.Patrick Forbes for Jig and Folksong (part of a Miniature Suite, 1962, apparently not published in full);Michael Carroll (Lovely Margareta, 1961), Squire Mason (Four Musical Cartoons, 1960: Betty Boop, The Donkey and the Bee, Pizzi-cat, Rush Hour); Keith Paul (Runaway Bells, 1960); and Gerald Clive Westlake (Crazy Bells, 1960)

Finally Geoffrey Tomlinson has specialised in work for younger performers – many arrangements, plus Contrasts: Seven Miniatures (1973), Divertimento for strings (1970), Concourse for percussions and other instruments (1974) and Creature Comforts for voices and percussion (1975).

Philip Scowcroft

December 2002

A 333rd Garland of British Light Music Composers

Darrell Wade has concentrated on music for younger performers in which sphere he was especially prolific in the 1970s, whether for orchestra – Halcon March and Brecon Waltz, Fanfare, Lullaby and Cherokee War Dance, Russian Gopak and Habanera and Tango are examples, - or in the form of musical plays including Dismal Land and the Giant, Aladdin, Mr Mulberry’s Toyshop and Mrs Pennyweather’s Garden.

Another composer specialising (and around that same time) in light music for children is Kenneth Cartwright, again in orchestral works like Clarinet cha-cha (1971) and the Newsom Suite for flute, strings, keyboard and percussion and uptempo cantatas such as Resurrection Jazz, Christmas Jazz and Harvest Jazz.

Now for a group of composers from the 1960s of orchestral miniatures for, and in some cases perhaps used by the recorded music libraries. They will seem, to posterity, to be one work composers: people like Michael Rogers for the Hi-Fi Polka (1961), which was arranged by Peter Knight; James Warr (Misty Moon, 1962); Brian Fahey (Lowdown on the Hoedown, (1967) and Mike Lewis (Hoe-Down, 1962).

Finally a mention for Anne Wood, composer, violinist and viola player, for her radio incidental music scores the most recent of which was that for the Radio 3 drama, The Giant O’Brien (2002)

Philip Scowcroft

December 2002

A 334th Garland of British Light Music Composers

To start with a number of composers who have written incidental music for BBC Radio productions in late 2002. Keith Morris, forLaughter When We’re Dead (Radio 3) John Roby for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Radio 4);Nina Perry for By the Coast of Coromandel – In Search of Edward Lear (Radio 4); Rick Juckes, for E. Nesbit’s The Magic City (Radio 4) and David Pickvance for Where the Wild Things Are (Radio 4).

Now for a number of figures who are, at least as far as their light music is concerned ‘singletons’ or almost so.Sidney Thomas Mayow Newman (1906-?), organist, professor and conductor, composed songs and some incidental music for Aucassin et Nicolette. Among a largely classical output Rodney Stephen Newton can point to Byzantine Sketches (1978) for clarinet quartet, the Constantine Suite (1977 for symphonic wind band and a Capriccio for bass tuba and piano. Frank Newton (unrelated) earns a mention for A Frolic, based on The Lincolnshire Poacher for two pianos, published in 1961, Glaister Newton (also unrelated) for his two-part song The Pirate’s Christmas: The Spanish Main (1958). From a generation earlier, W.J. Newstead published a piano miniature Wings.

Last among these sweepings we have two ballad composers from the early 20th century Winifred Catford for songs like Sea Moods andE.N. Catlin for Love among the Roses and two composers known, if at all, for works for two clarinets –Christopher Roe for Three Bagatelles, published in 1962 (he did write unison songs as well) and Keith Roper for Landscapes (1972)

Philip Scowcroft

December 2002

A 335th Garland of British Light Music Composers

This Garland will mainly be devoted to figures from the second half of the 20th Century who have to a considerable extent devoted themselves to composing for wind and brass instruments: but to supply a modicum of contrast, I will put in the name of Edward Land, a mid-Victorian ballad composer, of such titles as My Old Friend John and Then When to Love is all my Care. He also toured the country giving ballad concerts - he came to Doncaster in 1862 – being described as ‘conductor’, which then meant accompanist.

David Gwilt did not confine himself to composing for wind and brass, nor to ‘light’ music, but it is his Suite for woodwind and brass of 1966 which earns him a mention here. Howard Cable’s fame rests largely on his wind music items like Stratford Suite (1964), Newfoundland Rhapsody (1970) and Commencement March, all for wind band and Red Rosey Bush and Wind Song for clarinet choir; he also produced scores for radio features like that for The Long Portage. Norman Richardson also a prolific arranger and from approximately the same period can point to The Countryman for wind band, a Sonatina for clarinet and, for brass band, an overture and Avalon Diversions on an Original Theme. Gavin Smith’s wind pieces have included a North East Fantasy (1981),Snippets for Saxes, Studies in Dance Band Styling for the Sax Section (1983) and Katie’s Jubilee Suite (1981) for oboe and piano. Peter Fox, also a busy arranger, published Air and Allegro for clarinets in 1967 and High Stepper for flute and piano the following year.

Purveyors of brass band music include Cyril Beare, with Jogging Along: Rhythm for Brass Band (1974),Andrew Jackman for Broadland Day (1982) and Roy Slack, for Rumba, A Flourish and the Suite Alacita, all for full brass band, A Toye for trumpet and piano and a large number of pieces for young performers.

Philip Scowcroft

December 2002

 


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