|Founder: Len Mullenger|
A 371 st GARLAND
OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Mention, first of all, for some composers of ballads of the early and mid 20th century: R. G. Knowles, active in the 1920s and 1930s, who published On the Benches in the Park and other songs; Charles Oliver’s That Dear Old Country Lane appeared in 1917; Anne Pinder’s Mine for Ever was published in the 1920s; and Peggy Palmer, born in 1912, composed, besides church music for the sophisticated choir, solo (The Gate of the Year) and unison songs. Harold Pooke was more of a music-hall type composer as his The People who Live Upstairs indicates.
Next I point to two peripatetic tutors in the Doncaster Music Service who are not only good performers and teachers but who deploy their talents as arrangers and composers for their young charges. Christopher Moore, a flautist, has produced for his windbands arrangements and compositions including Autumn March and Winter Showers. Kevin Edwards, a fine percussionist, has published music not only for percussion ensembles but for guitar groups including original compositions such as Groovin’ Guitar.
Now for more orchestral compositions from the mid 20th century: Hugh Mallory for Silver Fingers (Boosey);Edgar Mitchell for Sailors’ Holiday (Bosworth); and Phyllis Norman Parker for her Suite for strings – Ballet Piquant.
John F. Mallard was yet another who composed for young performers, for example the Four Pieces for piano and Five, Six, Seven for clarinet and piano, both published in 1967.
Finally John Maisey is worthy of note as a writer of incidental music for BBC Radio, most recently for Chekhov’s The Black Mask (April 2003).Philip L Scowcroft
A 372 ND GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
First of all, let us salute Dorothy Parke, active particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, whose output included solo songs of the ballad type such as The House and the Road, The Road to Ballydare, unison songs and piano solos especially suited to young performers, Prelude and Burlesca, Tunetime, Traditional Irish Airs, and The Little Señorita. A Waltz was published for two pianos.
(Charles) Stephen (Lawrence) Parker , pianist in classical and jazz fields, was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire in 1961 and studied at the Royal College of Music. Resident in Northern Ireland since 1982, his compositions are mainly quite serious but he has penned some film music.
Finally for a miscellaneous group of blossoms. George F. Vincent composed ballads, some of them having a patriotic character like The Flag that Flew at Trafalgar (1914). Scott Saunders earns a mention for his march On the Road to Anywhere. And there is Bassett Silver, who was active in the 1950s and 1960s at the climax of the mood music era. His name sounded to me like a pseudonym but it seems to have been his own; indeed he used the pseudonym Andrew Basil. His orchestral pieces include The Happy Hiker and – a rumba – Moonrise over Morella (1963).Philip L. Scowcroft
A 373 RD GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
I start with a group of primarily vocal composers. The earliest of them in point of time is Ellen Wright, who was best known in her day for the ballad Fidelity (1904). Walter Wadham’s song titles included By the River, Come To Me andThe Voice I loved, Peter Young’s Hope and Pray, I Give Thanks For You, O Blessed Day andYou Will Return. Stuart Young was known in his day primarily as a writer for male voice choirs, his titles includingRoll the Old Chariot Along (1931) and The Road to the Sea (1935). And coming right up to date, Cyril Warren published So Little Time (1960) in both solo and two part choral versions and Any Morning Now (1967), plus the Three Miniatures (individually entitled The Mermaid, The Lonely Shepherdess and The Dancing Faun) for piano solo in 1975.
Arthur Young ’s mid-century orchestral pieces included Nicolette, described as an intermezzo for saxophone and orchestra, in an arrangement by Van Phillips, and the mood music entr’acte, Prim and Proper.
Finally among present day writers of music for radio and TV, I offer the name of Pendle Poucher who provides the score for the Channel 4 documentary Selling Houses. But can that name possibly be real?Philip L Scowcroft
A 374 TH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
My first four names in this 374th bunch of blooms could scarcely be more diverse. Clarence Wright was a composer of popular songs, notably of jingles for the Ovaltineys in the 1930s and 1940s. Simon Mulligan is a pianist and composer in the “crossover” field, his original compositions including A Leopard’s Lullaby for saxophone and piano. Alison Bowditch, educated at Cardiff University, has apparently specialised in music for young performers, like Upbeat, pieces for student pianists, published in 1997.
Edward, or Eddie, Pola was an American comedian, lyricist and composer, primarily of songs. However he did have a number of English connections, of which we may note three: the revue Here’s How, to which he contributed several songs, was produced, not too successfully, in the West End in 1934; his song Marching Along Together was adopted as the signature tune of the BBC Variety Orchestra; and his song Croon To Me was composed in conjunction with Harry Parr-Davies (1914-1955).
I conclude with a few more light music Smiths. There were Reginald Smith, born in 1906, for his unison song The Windmill, and Lilian Smith, active in the 1950s, for her piano solos Betty’s Diary and Three Rhythmic Studies. And finally we may point to Wyn Smith, composer of the ballad In Apple Blossom Land, who may have been identical with W.E. Smith who published the unison song A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea (1957), the Romance in G minor for violin and piano and the piano solo Felicity (1951).Philip L. Scowcroft
A 375 TH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
There are four (possibly five) composers to discuss this time; the two major ones were both active during the second half of the 19th century. Frederic Eames Clay (1838, but variously also given as 1939 or even 1840, to 1889) was born in Paris of English parents (his father was MP for Kingston-upon-Hull) and studied music at Leipzig. Thereafter he at first held various positions in the Civil Service, but after composing two works for amateurs and then (1862) achieving success with his incidental music for Tom Taylor’s play Cowl and Cottage, devoted himself full-time to composing (and at times conducting) for the theatre. His works included some more incidental music for straight plays; other theatre works, variously described as comic opera, romantic opera and operetta, included, in rough chronological order: Constance (1865), The Bold Recruit (1868),Ages Ago (1868, to words by W.S. Gilbert, a great success and several times revived), The Gentleman in Black (1870), In Possession (1871), Happy Arcadia (1872), Babel and Bijou (1872, with Hervé and others. Clay wrote the music for its “tableaux” five to eight inclusive, including the song Nobody Knows and I Know, Ali Baba à la Mode (1872, with J. Mallandaine, G. Richardson and G. Goldsmith), The Black Crook (yet again 1872, with G. Jacobs and revived in 1881), Oriana (1873), Green Old Age (1874), Cattarina (1874), Don Quixote (1876), Princess Toto (1876, again to W.S. Gilbert’s words and revived in America), The Merry Duchess (1883) and The Golden Ring (also 1883). A number of the earlier ones were (first) played at the German Reed Gallery of Illustration.
Arguably the peak of Clay’s success on the musical stage may be reckoned as the late 1860s and early 1870s, perhaps before Sullivan, who was a close friend of Clay’s, took over as the leading figure in this particular field (Trial by Jury was first produced in 1875), though Princess Toto enjoyed success and the last two stage works The Merry Duchess and The Golden Ring had 177 and 105 outings respectively. Not that Clay confined himself to composing for the stage. His cantata Lalla Rookh was composed for the Brighton Festival in 1877 (two of its songs, Still This Golden Lull and I’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby achieved separate success, the latter, which has nine entries in the BBC Orchestral Catalogue, especially so, and Sardanapalus, another cantata, was commissioned for the Leeds Festival of 1883. Apart fromI’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby, which still may be encountered today, Clay’s songs were popular in Victorian drawing-rooms, examples being The Sands of Dee, Who Knows?, She Wandered Down the Mountainside, ’Tis Better Not to Know and Gipsy John.
Clay died in 1889; his brother Cecil enjoyed some success as a writer and lyricist in the musical theatre, particularly in the 1890s, raiding his deceased brother’s store cupboard of compositions for On the March in 1896.
George D. Fox is a similar figure to Frederic Clay in that much of his work was for the musical stage. He began as a singer (he took over the role of the Counsel for the Prosecution in an early production of Trial by Jury in 1877) and ended as a musical director, for example for his own musical comedyThe Lady Cyclist (1897). The latter had been preceded by the “comedy opera” The Captain of the Guard (1882), the operettaContrary Words (1882), the romantic musical play Lovers (1886), the comic opera Macaire (1887) and the “musical comedy-drama”Our Babies (1889). His “comic cantata” The Jackdaw of Rheims enjoyed some success and his songs Reading Town, The Penny Whistler and, most popular of all his compositions, Bonnie Wee Thing, still being arranged in 1940 (for male voice choir by Leslie Woodgate) and occasionally to be heard today, were in demand in Victoria parlours.
Finally here are short mentions for two composers active in the mid 20th century: first, for the popular songwriter Frank Fox (no relation of George, so far as I am aware) whose The Way to Happiness was published in 1952; and Harold Clayton, whose A Walking Tune for piano solo, dates from 1948. I am not sure whether he was related to, or even – such are the hazards of misprints and other errors in works of reference – identical to Harold Kenneth Clayton, born in 1920, teacher and adjudicator in the Midlands, whose compositions included an operetta Bows and Bells, Shepherd’s Tune and Evening, both for piano and recorders, a Sonatine for piano solo and Tangeta for two pianos.Philip L. Scowcroft
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