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A 341 st Garland of British Light Music Composers

Christopher Roland Brown, born in Tunbridge Wells in 1943 and educated at the Royal Academy of Music, is a conductor and composer of mainly classical works, including choral music, sacred and secular, opera and some ‘serious’ traditional items, but there are some lighter pieces, like the Rustic Suite (1984) for strings, a Little Suite for violin and piano (1983), the Divertimento Before The Merry Wives of Windsor for wind quintet (1965) and various folk song arrangements. He lives in Cambridgeshire.

Now for a further sheaf of composers who have mostly specialized in music for young performers: Derek Foster for sundry settings of folk tunes for piano (1980, 1989), Harold R Clark, for his Sketches for young pianists; Helen Caskie (1930-) forCrawley Crocodile & Co (1986), also for solo piano, Mary Perrin for Off to the beach (1987, again for piano),Enid Luff for Ships (1986), Storm Tide (1987) and The Haunted Nightclub (1987), all for piano;Karen Street for her ingeniously titled Easy Street for flute and piano (1989); Graham Powning for his Vegetable Suite of 1986, also for flute and piano, and perhaps also Judith Knight for the Two Pieces published in 1986 for flute and piano.

Finally James Douglas (1932- ), who is Scots-born and lives in Edinburgh, so prolific in most classical forms (twelve symphonies, twelve string quartets, three operas and choral music), but he earns mention for rather lighter compositions like Hebridean Dream Music (1989) for unaccompanied flute, and carols of which we may cite A Christmas Fable as an example.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2003

A 342 nd Garland Of British Light Music Composers

To start with here are four almost forgotten figures: E Harrison, composer of the miniature Rapture (Morceau) of 1948 and seemingly of not much else; Samuel Gardner, born in 1891, who may have been Canadian and who published, for violin and piano,From the Canebreak (this was orchestrated by Adolf Schmid), From the Rockies and Two Birds, all in 1949; and William Gardner, who orchestral miniature Irish Imp was arranged for Mozart Edition by Peter Hope. An earlier, almost similarly named William Gardiner of Leicester (1770-1853) scarcely creeps into the recognised period of British light music, but his Hornpipe and Minuets, occasionally revived in our own day, perhaps entitle him to passing mention here.

Colin Ross , born in 1911, composed choral songs, a solo Lorna’s Song and, published as late as 1986, a Miniature Suite for treble recorder (or oboe or flute) and piano.

Walthamstow-born Terry Bradford is perhaps only marginally a ‘light music’ figure for, whether as seasoned vocalist, guitarist, arranger or CD producer, his career has been mainly in pop music, but he and his wife the Danish-born singer/songwriter Sussie Arvesen, tour a programme of old-time songs, music-hall and others, entitled Roll out the barrel; and in addition to singing in many TV commercials, he has composed jingles for British Gas, Ford, Vauxhall and EuroDisney.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2003

A 343 rd Garland Of British Light Music Composers

I begin with mentions for four orchestral composers from the period 1920-60 (or thereabouts) with one example of the work of each:F George Pugh (Fiddle Fun), J H Pitt (Fairies’ Glen), M D Pennyman ( Wensleydale Suite) and Steve Bretton (A Lady in Love, 1952, published by Francis Day & Hunter).

Now for three figures best known as arrangers: Geoffrey Alderson, with a particularly attractive arrangement of Strawberry Fair; and two who obliged for Friday Night is Music Night, either side of 1960 – Keith Papworth, who also produced guitar tutors, andKenneth Pakeman composed A Village Suite (The Archers) and the theme entitled Rendezous Berlin fromBeyond the Curtain (1962) and music for a considerable number of radio features among them Toys, Taking the Census, Welfare State and Robbery Under Arms and, recycling two themes by Offenbach, Journey to the Moon. While on the BBC, in the 1940s and 1950s John Buckland composed and arranged a considerable amount for radio: incidental music for the plays Medea (1949),The Persians, St John, Troilus and Cressida and A Voyage to Arcturus (1957) and an arrangement of Songs and Marches of the British Army (1957).

Violet B Archer , born in 1913, is best remembered for her music for young performers, like the Three Duets for violin, Minute Music for small hands (piano) and the orchestral Britannia, A Joyful Overture.

Finally three more brief mentions: Paul Andrew (1895-?), for his song Winding Road (1941) (did he compose anything else?),Eric Ansell, related maybe to John Ansell of Plymouth Hoe fame, who wrote a score for the 1936 British film Song of Freedom which included a song Sleepy River (Jack Beaver, who was associated with films in those days, put together a selection from Ansell’s music); and Victor Bartlett, for the Liberation march, published by Bosworth.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2003

A 344 th Garland Of British Light Music Composers

First, here are two mentions for composers known to me, at least, for their light orchestral music. Michael Colgrass, born in 1932, for his suite As Quiet As (1965-66), in no fewer than seven movements; and Val Chayne, who was active in the 1930s and whose titles included an intermezzo twostep, Nelly Bly, an intermezzo, Parade of the Marionettes, and the ‘flower dance’ Phul-Nama.

Herbert Dennison, whose floreat was between the Wars, was known for his miniatures for piano solo, though one or two of these were orchestrated. Examples of his work were A Sea Idyll (1927), Chanson Joyeuse, Feu Follet, Grasshoppers’ Dance, Petite Valse de Concert and the two interludes entitled Harbour Lights (1938). Cecil Dixon, from much the same era, published in 1932 piano arrangements of sundry traditional songs; a Tango by him was orchestrated by Stanford Robinson. Adeline de Lara, OBE (1872-1961) was best known as a pianist (she studied with Clara Schumann), in the concert hall, in the recording studios and (on her 82nd birthday) on television, but she composed as well, both ‘serious’ music, like the two piano concertos and song cycles, but her portfolio also included ballads and two suites for strings, one of them entitled In The Forest, whose five movements were entitled Daybreak, The Storm King Rides, Glory of the Bluebell (Noon), As the sun sets and Moonlight and March of the Gnomes.

In the years after the last War, Hal Evans wrote much incidental music for radio features (e.g A Christmas Carol, The Water Gypsies and, in 1948, The Four Feathers); under his pseudonym Peter Henley he composed Deep in the Quiet Forest for double woodwind, four horns, percussion, harp and strings. Evans’ namesake Archibald Evans composed marches, among them The King’s Colonials.

Finally, during the 1920s Stanley Dickinson composed ballad-type songs including God Bless You, We Won’t Be Singing and Little Brown Cottage (1924).

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2003

A 345 th Garland Of British Light Music Composers

Again we concentrate first on a few who were mainly (and apparently one-off) composers of light orchestral miniatures: Brian Fahey (1919- ) for Fiesta Girl and from 1967 and for amateur orchestras Low-Down on the Hoedown; Henry Fisher for his library miniatures including Meteorite (1952), jointly credited to him and Jack Beaver; George French for hisScherzo for Strings (1952) and a song arrangement Pirate Gold (1954); Edwin Gray for Lyndehurst, andDenys Grayson for In Linden Time. J A Hutchings was a march composer, particularly known for Cavalry Call (1947).

Now for a ballad composer from around the 1920s era. Howard Fisher composed At Tankerton Inn, Cornfields, A Farewell, Phyllida, Song of a Button, Tavern Song and, much the best known, An Old Violin, which was published, naturally enough, with an obbligato for violin; it was not the only Fisher song to have an obbligato part.

Harry Jacobson , active in the 1930s and 1940s, composed considerably for the stage, revues and musicals like Day by Day, Black and Blue and with George Posford (formerly dealt with) Evangeline (1940), which was toured provincially but, possibly because of the War, had only a brief run at the Cambridge Theatre. He also published songs, among them You’ve Got It – I Want It, We Are Not Alone, Paris in the Night, Riding in The Row, Little Miss Go As You Please, I Like You and Moon Kissed.

Finally, mention of another song composer and arranger, popular in the years after the last War, the guitarist Elton Hayes, whose publications included Pirate Gold and My heart is Like a Nightingale.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2003

 


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