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A 346th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Once again we begin with orchestral composers often known for just one or two pieces, often in the 'library music' genre and often (though not always) in the 1940s and 1950s.

Peter Kane produced Rhythms of the Clock in conjunction with Eddie Hunt for Paxton's RML and also put together medleys likeYule Tide Memories, also for Paxton. Guy Langham is worthy of passing note for his intermezzo The Fairy Ring andErnest Liggett was responsible for Danse Gaie (Polka Gracieuse), published by Bosworth, and Let's Play andMon Petit Cher, both for Paxton. Then there was P McCann, composer of Junior Miss (1951) - not to be confused withPhilip McCann, once principal cornet with Black Dyke and now a respected conductor. Evan Marsden for hisPortsmouth Town and Westward Ho, Charles Midgley for Cuban Serenade (arranged by Joseph Engleman), J E Morgan for Romany Revels, published by Bosworth, Cecil Macklin for a one-step That Whistling Boy and C C Mackenzie for the ‘caprice entr'acte’ The Chatterbox which, as it was orchestrated by H M Higgs (d.1929) cannot be dated later than the 1920s and hence is not a library piece.

Paul London , about whom I otherwise know nothing, was also probably not within the ‘library music’ category, but he is worth a mention for the three movement suiteCopenhagen, dated 1941, a time when the Danish capital was occupied by the Germans. And the portfolio of John Arthur Neill Lambert (1926-?) included some radio incidental music for Back to Methuselah, dated 1966.

I have often featured composers of music for children in these pages and one such who was active in the 1940s and 1950s wasAlan Livingston remembered perhaps for his musical stories Sparky's Magic Piano, Sparky and the Talking Train and so on.Bill McGuffie ccomposed miniatures around 1960 for amateur orchestras, three of his titles being Highland Hue, Scottish Ayr and Simple Simon.

Lastly, Marr Mackie was. in the 1950s and 1960s. an arranger and compiler of medleys (of which Caricaturia may be one), rather than composer, but he did write music for radio features like Ballerina Story, Essex Journey, Friends and Relations and Ten Years After: Britain Under Fire.

Philip L Scowcroft

A 347th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Four song composers to begin with: Charles Henry Purday (1799-1885), celebrated for just one song, much arranged,A Fine Old English Gentleman; Harry Norris, who deserves our memory for the music-hall numberAlgy, or the Piccadilly Johnnie with the Little Glass Eye; Lily Teresa Strickland (1887-1958), Mah Lindy Love; and Mabel Wayne (1904-?) for Ramona.

Among march composers we have Charles Vanis for Nelson's Call in particular and W V Richards, famed for hisNamur, composed in the 1930s. From roughly the same period we can salute among orchestral composers, Oscar Naylor for his suite,Three Irish Scenes (The Sligo Lament, Along the Ennis Road, After Limerick Races), W Ridgway for hisCoppice Suite (Bagatelle, Intermezzo, Arietta and Minuet), A Valentine for The Cockney Bard and Pedro de Zulueta, of Spanish extraction but resident in England and who composed some incidental music for Shakespeare's As You Like It, the waltzes Love's Wonderful Music, Bianca and Sunrise, the intermezzo two-step, The Clown's Serenade, an intermezzo, Starlight and songs like Take Hands and Part. Arthur Whiting (1881-1936) was noted in his day for a dance pageant The Golden Cage for small orchestra.

From library music's heyday (the 1950s and after) we can cite Arthur Young for Prim and Proper, an entr'acte for flute, oboe, clarinet, three saxophones, harp and strings, Edwin Virgo for the waltz Plaisir Inconnue (1953) and Eric Wild for Repartee for orchestra (1974) and some vocal music. Finally a mention for L Young for some radio incidental music he composed around 1950, including Lottie Dundass (1949) and Midsummer Fire (1951).

Philip L Scowcroft

Jan 2003

A 348th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I start with a group of composers for brass during the second half of the 20th century. Of them, probably the best known (to me) is John Carr, who wrote, Four Little Maids, depicting four of the composer's grand-daughters. It was once very popular. Another Carr piece, The Delavals (1971) achieved publication. Carr's son, Denis Carr had a distinguished career as a conductor in the brass band world. Others are apparently known by just one work, as is the case with John Wilder (1937-) for Forward with Courage, arranged by Frank Bryce, Wesley Johnstone (City by the Sea, 1968), Stephen Kenna for the march CSB (1990), David Stanhope for A Leadsman, a Lady and a Lord (1987), Morley Calvert for Introduction, Elegy and Caprice and Clarence Thorpe for A Musical Medley (1969), a compilation for young brass players.

Others have however had several pieces published. Brian Crookes, for example, can point to Way Out West (1976) for band and Fantasy for Four for brass quartet. Frank Stokes composed Automations (1957), Cat on Hot Bricks (1959) and the humoresque Happy Go Lucky (1962), all for band, and Prelude and Rondo for brass quartet. And Ray Garman published Half Cut in Three Four (1988, featuring glissando trombones), One Over The Eight (1985, featuring euphonium and E flat bass) and for trumpet solo, the appropriately named Lonely Trumpet Blues.

Colin Taylor , active particularly in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, is principally remembered for his lighter pieces for piano, of which we can exemplifyAnne-Marie's Piano Book (1957) and Francesca's Piano Book (1964), both making use of French traditional tunes,A Dance for Dulcie, Four Preludes (Water Meadows, A Daisy, A Farewell, Punch and Judy),Step Gently, Three Fables (1973), two sets (1961 and 1973) of Four Whimsies, Water Landscape (1962) and Three Trifles (1965).

Finally Lionel Pike is known as a writer on music but his Nocturne for string orchestra published in 1990, perhaps entitles us to include him in these pages.

Philip L Scowcroft

Jan 2003

A 349th Garland of British Light Music Composers

To start with, here are a few more mid-Victorian composers of dance music, though as yet I do not know their forenames; Hart for Original Lancers, Tinney for his valse Songs of the Wood and the Orpheus Galop and Adams for the Burlesque Quadrille - and doubtless many other titles.

Coming much more up to date and noticing en passant the Fanfares written for the Coronation of 1911 by William O'Keeffe, we have Chris Adams, who published many songs for children and at least two musical plays for schools: The Lollipop Lady (1979) and The Evacuees (1981).

And finally for a group of less well known 'library' composers from around 1960: Inez Holland for Black Orchid (1961) andString Bag, arranged respectively by Gordon Langford and Les Williams; Michael Austin forBlue Lace, also orchestrated by Les Williams; Ian Regor for Romantic Rendezvous, published in 1960, andLes Williams himself, composer and arranger for Mills Music and other publishers. Michele Lesley is credited with a Waltz Serene (arranged by Robert Docker), but this could be a pseudonym for Colin Wark. Another name which looks suspiciously like a pseudonym is that of Luiz Tristan, composer of Ladies of Lisbon (1960), but I have not been able to confirm this one way or the other.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 350th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with two military band musicians. First, Carli Zoeller (1840-89) who was German-born but who settled in England in 1873, serving in turn as bandmaster of the 7th Hussars and the 2nd Life Guards and composing the operetta The Missing Heir and four overtures, among more serious, mostly vocal, pieces. His successor as Bandmaster of the Life Guards, the Chesterfield-born Leonard Barker (1852-) was a prolific arranger and composer but I have no details.

Now for three fairly occasional writers for brass band, all from the 1960s. May Isaacs could point to a march With Best Wishes, arranged by Sam B Wood, himself a significant composer for brass, dated 1970, and a waltz Playtime, which was arranged byCharles Cooper in 1965. William Henry Doughty published in 1961 a march, The British Mouthpiece, as did Malcolm Carmichael the ceremonial march Highland Gathering in 1960.

Finally we have John du Prez, born in 1946, who has, over the past twenty years, composed for films, titles including Bullshot! (1983), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), A Private Function (1984), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I (1990), II (1991) and III (1993) and possibly most memorably, Wind in the Willows (1996).

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

 


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