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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 a term as bandmaster of the Seventh Hussars and the Second 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 an overture, With Best Wishes, arranged by Sam B Wood, himself a significant composer for brass, dated 1970, and a waltz Playtime, which was arranged by Charles Cooper in 1968. 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, A Private Function, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I, II and III and, possibly most memorably, The Wind in the Willows.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 351st Garland of British light music composers

I begin with a group of march composers, all known for just one or two titles: Archibald Arthur Ellis, for the quick marchMen of Wales (1958); Len Mackinson for Service with Fortitude (1970); Ronald McAnespee forCentury of Progress and The Symbol of Unity (both 1967); A E Challinor for the quick march, Flying Review; J T Poole for Wings of a Dove, a quick march based rather unusually on a Caribbean song: and George Austin Haile , whose arrangement of The Farmer’s Boy was adopted in 1960 as the regimental quick march of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment which recruited from rural South Midlands counties.

Leslie Statham was noted as an arranger and composer, notably of the suite Happy Days (1966) for wind band, whose three movements bore the titles Morning Walk, Pony Ride and Happy Days.

Now for a clutch of modern writers for woodwind (mainly) suitable for students: Geoffrey Grey for several arrangements andContretemps for wind quintet (1984); Charles Frederick Waters, best known for organ and choral music, but also forArabesque for clarinet and piano, Two miniatures for woodwind quartet (1987) and the Moorland sketches for oboe and piano;John Simpson, for Three Tunes of Travel (for descant and treble recorders, percussion and piano), Outdoor Suite and Little Suite both for recorders, Three Bagatelles for flute, oboe and two clarinets (1958), The Magic Clarinet for clarinet and piano, and a Divertimento for three clarinets; Nicholas Blake for a Suite for two oboes and cor anglais (1976);Tudor Usher, for Aquarelles for flutes (1983) and Venezia, six sketches for tuba and piano; and Laurence Perkins, himself a fine bassoonist and crusader for his instrument, who has been responsible for several arrangements and a few compositions for bassoon including Tootin’ Taxi for a trio of bassoons.

Finally for a few more Victorian light music figures: the Hon Mrs Fane for ballads like The Wounded Dove published in 1888, and the following composers of dance music, taken from dance programmes at Doncaster Mansion House in 1868 – Lambert ( Valse, Happy Moments), Hird (Sensation Galop) and H P Swatten (Schottisch, Light Fantastic). The ‘Clarke’ to whom was credited the Night Bell Galop may well have been Hamilton Clarke (1840-1912), conductor and prolific composer, formerly dealt with, and the ‘Farmer’ whose Imperial Prince Quadrille was aired could have been the John Farmer who was music master at Harrow and a popular composer.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 352nd Garland of British light music composers

Our first two paragraphs are devoted to Luigi Arditi (1822-1903), who was Italian-born but who settled in England in 1885 having conducted orchestras here for many years and who excelled both as conductor and as the composer of, particularly, the waltz song Il bacio (The kiss), once very well known in a large number of vocal and instrumental arrangements and still quite popular. The accompaniment, for example, has been orchestrated by Howard Carr, Gilbert Stacey, James Turner and Gilbert Vinter, among others; the song has been arranged for cornet or trumpet and orchestra by Aubrey Winter, and for cornet and brass band by Peter Graham.

Arditi’s other songs included I Arditi (Beauty sleep), L’estasi, Leggiero invisible, Rosebuds and Stirrup Cup, the latter two possibly composed after he had come to England. He composed one-act operas, too, in his earlier years, and purely instrumental pieces such as Morceau à la Gavotte, What is love? As a conductor he wielded the baton at Covent Garden, the Shaftesbury and His Majesty’s Theatre, and for the Carl Rosa Opera on tour.

Finally for two modern composers for amateur woodwind players: M Norris, whose publications include two sets (of three each) of Dances (1987) for a trio of bassoons, and Ian Kellam for his Cassation (1964) for a quartet of flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 353rd Garland of British light music composers

I begin with George Frederick Linstead (1908-74) who, although born at Melrose in the Scottish border country and brought up in Derbyshire, made his musical career in Sheffield, where he contributed much to the city’s musical life, as lecturer, musical journalist, pianist, organist and conductor. He also composed; much of his output – chamber music, operas and symphonic movements – was ‘serious’, reflecting his eclectic tastes (his influences took in inter alia ‘Les Six’ and twentieth century Russians like Prokofiev and Shostakovich). But there is quite a lot of what we can regard as light music in a prolific portfolio and among these we can exemplify film music for Engineers in Steel (presumably a documentary about Sheffield’s one-time main industry), A jig for sackbuts (for three trombones), Rumba for piano and wind trio, Le babil-chatter for piano solo, a French Suite for military band and orchestra, Moto perpetuo (1947), Mood music for small orchestra, one of his few works to be published, Two Irish tunes, Two Scottish Airs and Castleton Garland Dance, a setting of the traditional tune virtually identical with that of the Helston Floral Dance which is played by the local band to accompany that Peak District village’s Garland ceremony every 29 May; it is appropriate that a Garland Dance should appear in these Garlands.

Now for a few more composers of wind music. Some at least of these wrote with young performers in mind, like Elsa Snell with her Strawberry Hill (1963), Four Concert Pieces and, in three movements, Off the beaten track (1967), all for recorder and piano, and Christopher Garden with his Little Suites for oboe and piano (1982) and for two oboes and various duets for clarinets and oboes. Joyce Barrell has cast her net more widely than just wind instruments, but has still aimed her output mainly at young amateurs, for example in songs like The bat and The harvest house, Three Fours for viola and piano, much guitar music including Elegies, the Four Contrasts and Tanzmusik for piano solo, Three Ukrainian Impressions for woodwind ensemble and a piece for flute and piano entitled Ariel.

Franz Holford ’s pieces for oboe published in the 1950s may well originally have been teaching material but notable oboists took them up and played them for a time in recitals, although I cannot recall hearing any of them recently: Dance for a gnome (1957), Summer madrigal (1957) and Pastorale and Goblin (1959).

Finally a mention for John Whitehall for his incidental music for radio, most recently that for Elephants to Catch Eels (February 2003).

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 354th Garland of British light music composers

As an example of the many dedicated musicians who were the backbone of the brass band movement in the latter half of the nineteenth century let us briefly remember Edward Newton, born in 1838 in Silsden (near Keighley in the West Riding of Yorkshire) where he later (1872) formed a brass band (though he also conducted inter alia the bands of the First Royal Lancashire Militia and the Third West Riding Regiment, thus favouring both the red and white roses). He was a respected adjudicator of, and a noted composer and arranger for, brass bands. As just four examples of his work, let us note his hymn tune Salem’s Plains, adopted by the Salvation Army, his compilation Beauties of Ireland and Beauties of Scotland, both played by his Silsden band, a march National Unity and some music to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. He survived into the twentieth century, still arranging music for major concerts in London involving brass.

Another great Yorkshireman from the heroic period of the brass band was William Swingler, born in Halifax in 1857, conductor (notably of Black Dyke), arranger and composer, his own favourite being the overture To Sylvia.

We have included Keith Amos previously in these Garlands, but here we can take the opportunity to note a few more of his compositions for youngsters, wind players (Nursery Rhyme Suite and Four Society Dances), both for clarinets, Sir Richard Walpole in Richmond Park , for flutes and clarinets, Four Victorian Dances and Four American Dances, both for quintet, and Compositae for alto or tenor saxophone with piano) and brass players (Fritillery, Kew Fanfare and Charterhouse Suite). His best-known orchestral item is Richmond Green and, interestingly, he has also published a Sonata for concertina and piano and a Sonata for basset horn and piano, both of which I would like to hear sometime.

Finally a mention for Alistair King for his scores for TV, most recently the discreet one for The last detective (February 2003).

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003

A 355th Garland of British light music composers

To begin with, here is a group of composers active during the last forty years who have written, indeed seemingly almost specialized in, musicals for children. They are (and I stress that these names are a tiny proportion of composers in this particular field, and speaking generally, not among the best-known of them): Peter Allwood for Bendigo Boswell published in 1984; Maurice Bailey forGoldilocks and the Three Bears and The Elves and the shoemaker (1983); Melvin Beddow for Moonstruck (1961) andThe Awkward Eskimo (1965); Veronica Bennetts for The Happy Prince (1984), inspired of course by Oscar Wilde; Geoffrey Brace for All aboard (1985, originally entitled Margarine), who is also known for his arrangements and his writing about aspects of music in education; and Margaret Rolf for Little Moose (1985).

Wilhelm Ganz (1833-1914) does not sound very British and indeed was born in Germany, but he came to England in 1848 and remained here until his death a month after the outbreak of the Great War. He contributed considerably to English musical life, as violinist (he played as such in mid-Victorian orchestras), pianist and conductor, most notably of his own concerto between 1874 and 1882. He became Professor of Singing at the Guildhall School. And he also composed, examples being ballad-like songs such as The nightingale’s trill and Sing, sweet bird and the galop for piano Qui vive, which was orchestrated and could well have found its way into Victorian ballrooms.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2003


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