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 A 336th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Most of our composers this time have been associated with writing for one instrument or type of instrument in particular. All come from the latter part of the 20th century. To take the accordion first, Fred Bailey, active in the 1960s, was known for a few pieces for accordion band such as the barcarolle The Gondolier. From the 1970s, we may point to Wilfred Walker, who published a Spanish dance, Playa Las Canteras (1971) and two Sonatinas, both for solo accordion, and Dennis Watson, whose Dance of the Penguins, also for accordion solo, appeared in 1976.

Now for the single reeds, the clarinet and saxophone. Paul Carr composed during the 1980s Three Bagatelles and Dance Pieces for clarinet and piano (though he also published a few Impromptus for guitar solo and a Miniature Suite for two guitars). Neil Garland, himself a clarinettist, lectured at one time at Huddersfield and formed a clarinet quartet of 3 B flats and one bass clarinet called the Malton Ensemble which gave many concerts in the 1970s and subsequently he composed too, Five Times of Day, for clarinet and piano, and Three Anagrams (entitled Lemons, Solemn and Melons!) which I heard performed in Doncaster by the Malton Ensemble – and arranged widely, especially for the Malton. And during the 1970s Paul Arden-Taylor brought out many arrangements and published for saxophone trio Bach goes to Sea (1976).

Keyboard composers can be represented by Bobby Fisher for his Royal Parade March (1981) and sundry classical arrangements, all for organ, by Roger Hugh Pope, for Five Short Solos (1971) and Impressions (1974) for piano solo, and by the music journalist Malcolm Macdonald (1916-) for his Entry of the Zanies, Mazwan Wedding and On the Avenue, all again for piano solo, though Macdonald’s Cuban Rondo for clarinet and piano (or orchestra) may be his best remembered piece.

We end with the bassoon. Several composers for bassoon played it, like John Burness, composer of Four Easy Pieces and Five Day Week (1974), who published his memoirs, Bars Rest, in 1975, and Ian Kerrison, active in the 1950s, who published in 1958 a Suite of Dances (Rigaudon, Sicilienne and Jig) and Three Young Pieces (Gremlin, Lullaby and, probably most popular amongst Kerrison’s output, The Fairy Clock), all for bassoon, plus Three Pieces for wind trio. Also among composers for bassoon we may mention Geoffrey Hartley, for his two works for a trio of bassoons (without piano),Round the Mulberry Bush, A Fugal Trio (1974) and a Suite of 1976, and Peter Dodd for his Two Rhythmic Interludes (1964) for bassoon and piano.

Philip L Scowcroft

December 2002


A 337th Garland of British Light Music Composers

In these Garlands I have highlighted the work of many writers for young performers as their wares have to be tuneful, simple and readily accessible. One not so far mentioned is Mary Hicks, active in the 1950s, whose works included some Nursery Rhymes arranged for piano duet, many other arrangements, many unison or other songs for schoolchildren of which we may exemplify Ducks’ Ditty (whose lyric comes of course from The Wind in the Willows), The Cloud House and The Two Mice and, for piano solo, Reflections: Six Short Pieces.

Sidonie Goossens was one of two harpist sisters from a famous family of Belgian extraction who illuminated British music for several generations. Born in 1899, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music, played for many years in the BBC Symphony Orchestra and became a Professor of the Harp at the Guildhall School. She composed for harp and earns a mention here primarily for a very brief Interlude used regularly in BBC Radio’s serial Mrs Dale’s Diary.

Arthur Graham merits notice for his march The Champion, whose date I do not precisely know but was probably some time in the 1920s, as does Sarah Class, for her music for TV, most recently for Dogfight (2002) in Channel 4’s Secret History series.

And so finally to Joseph Ascher (1829-69), resident for much of his short life in this country, concert pianist and composer, most notably of the still popular ballad Alice where art thou? and of much instrumental music such as the Bravura Galop, La Source Limpide,Chasse aux Papillons, Mazur des Traineux, and fantasies for piano on Rule Britannia and on the Danish National Anthem, King Christian.

Philip L Scowcroft

December 2002

A 338 th Garland Of British Light Music Composers

We begin with three composers from the mid-Victorian era. Adam Wright published for piano solo a Fantasia on The Harp That Once and a polka The Fancy Fair, and G.F. Wood arranged for piano Henry Bishop’s song The Bloom is on the Rye, all for the same publisher in 1864. In that same year Maria Lindsay, otherwise Mrs J. Worthington Bliss, published the ballad O Love, My Willie; her other ballads included The Bridge, Come unto Me!, Excelsior (not as popular as Balfe’s once hackneyed version), Far Away, Tired, and perhaps the best known of her ballads Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead.

Hubert Dawes (1893-1965) was a violinist, teacher (notably at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth) and composer, especially of serious chamber and orchestral music, but he also published Welsh folk song arrangements, a three part song for female voices, Bluebells, a Lament for violin and piano and variations for viola and piano on the folk tune The Grey Cuckoo. Felix Bernard’s popular songs merit mention – Waltzing With An Angel, The Whistlin’ Cowboy and, still very popular and in a variety of arrangements and a money-spinner for Frances Day & Hunter, Winter Wonderland.

Two pieces of light orchestral music to finish with: Laughing Cuckoo by Timothy Norton, a “library” miniature from the mid-20 th century; and the more recent Suite, The Quantocks, for violin and string orchestra, by John Marsh.

Philip L. Scowcroft

December 2002

A 339 th Garland Of British Light Music Composers

We start with a military bandmaster, who was very active in the 1930s and subsequently, Lt. Col. David McBain OBE, whose best known composition is the rousing bugle march Mechanised Infantry. Another, more recent, composer for military band is Donald Bridger, whose sprightly piccolo solo The Shanghai Sailor is a delight.

Next for two theatre composer, Terry Hawes for the new musical setting, in the period style of the original, that he made in 1982 of W.S. Gilbert’s operetta libretto His Excellency, originally set by Osmond Carr; and Pam Hilton, who has just (I write at the end of December 2002) made a new stage adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, for which she has written and composed eight songs.

In 1999 Lesley Barber wrote the score for a film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park. The present writer personally found the adaptation less than satisfactory, but the shapely, quite substantial, music was something of a consolation.

Finally for two composers who, particularly in the 1980s, provided music for young performers. Alison Johnston published folk song arrangements and Four Pieces for clarinet and piano and also contributed to a co-operative set of West Country Variations for two cellos and piano; Linda Marsh’s contributions in this direction that I have found were vocal ones – nine Serendipity Solos, Spooky Songs (1988) and a religious cantata Along Came Man (1986).

Philip L. Scowcroft

December 2002

A 340 th Garland Of British Light Music Composers

First, brief mention for two composers of radio incidental music: Colin Sell for, most recently (January 2003), a score for a dramatisation of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, and Billy Cowie for an adaptation of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights (also January 2003).

Stephen Glover (1813-1870) has I believe been alluded to previously in these Garlands as a composer of Victorian ballads such as What Are The Wild Waves Saying?,A Merry Christmas, which was given fresh life in the early 20th century arrangement by Gerrard Williams,The Blind Girl To Her Harp, The Gipsy Countess, O, for the Bloom of My Own Native Heath, The Sea is England’s Glory and The Murmuring Sea (a duet). Glover is also credited, apparently in conjunction with one J.A. Kind, with the composition of a song which has become better known than any of the above, namely I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside. Who J.A. Kind was I do not know but I have found fleeting references to a John A (or H) Glover-Kind, whose dates are given tentatively as 1891-1918. Besides ballads Stephen Glover published dance music, like The Ten Friends quadrille and the Davenport Quadrilles, both from 1864.

Next, a mention for Captain A.C. Green MBE RM, sometime of the Royal Naval School of Music, noted for his 1932 setting of the Royal Marines bugle call Sunset (Retreat) for bugles and band – an arrangement which has not been superseded by the fine Sunset arrangement of the late Captain Peter Sumner MBE RM.

Finally for three more composers for (young) amateurs, all especially active in the 1980s. Michael Coe (e.g. for Pieces for orchestra and Miniatures for brass trio), Sally Wright for Strings on Tour: Four Foreign Fancies for String Orchestra (1986) and Strawberry Fair, with two other traditional melodies (1988), and Stuart Nettleship, for his lighthearted Prelude and Fugue on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen for string orchestra, published in 1986.

Philip L. Scowcroft

January 2003


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