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Garlands 376-380

A 376 th Garland of British light music composers

Two similarly named, but contrasting, composers to begin with: Jeff Clarkson, writer of songs of the music-hall type such as The organ, The monkey and me: and Harold Clark, born in 1924, writer of church music, carols (Adam lay ybounden, 1988), a Nocturne for high voices and piano (1986) and, also from 1986, Sketches for young pianists.

Next for two pairs of figures similarly named. Valerie May produced ballads – Devil-may-care, In friendship’s name, In memory’s garden, Lay of the pirate, Song of the highway, Song of the wand’rer and With a song. By contrastA Vivian May was known in the 1980s for the “novelty entr’acte” Cupid dons the kilt, published by Ashdown.Michael Maxwell published many arrangements plus the Three duets for treble and tenor recorders (1964) and A little dance and waltz (1971) for cello and piano. J Geddes Maxwell brought out the orchestral miniature Jack Frost in 1957.

Two composers known (to me) for one unison song each, and both active around 1960, were Basil Tait (Bluebells, 1958) andErnest Leigh (The cupboard, 1960). And finally for two others involved with music for young performers: Alfred H Earnshaw who published Cello and I: Eight recreations with piano in 1957 (it was his Op. 48 but I know nothing of the other 47); and John Horton, writer on music, arranger and sometime Music Inspector for the Department of Education and Science, who published Five Northumbrian folktunes, also for cello, in 1974.

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2003

A 377 th Garland of British light music composers

Some light music enthusiasts may be surprised as seeing here the name Graham Treacher, born in 1932, as this conductor, chorus-master, composer, teacher, lecturer and administrator has at times been associated with the performance of much modern, almost avant-garde, music. But he has composed a considerable amount for children, including the choruses Bright cap and streamers and Winds of May, both published in 1963, and The dove.

John Trevalsa , who was active in the early years of the twentieth century, composed ballads such as My treasure, and in 1910 published a song cyclePeter Pan. The term “song cycle” must not be taken too literally, as the nine songs which constitute it include rather lightish solo songs (My little house, Good advice, A pirate bold and There and back), duets (The crafty crocodile and Spring cleaning) and quartets [SATB] (The coming of Peter Pan, Bedtime stories and The Land of Make-believe).

Two similarly named Victorian figures, J H Tully who composed The Point Lace Polka, published for piano solo, and D F Tully who published a ballad What shall I sing?, may have been related; one feels they ought to have been.

Major Laurie Dunn , MBE, still alive at the age of 101 (he was born in 1902 and is the oldest surviving bandmaster) was Director of Music to the Royal Engineers in the period after the Second World War and later to the Bermuda Regiment whose regimental march he composed during the 1960s. He is apparently not related to Sir Vivian Dunn and the other members of his family, several of whom were musical and even composers, as we have seen.

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2003

A 378 th Garland of British light music composers

We start with G B Allen, conductor on the English musical stage, notably of the first run of The Sorcerer in 1877. He was married to the singer Alice May, creator of the role of Aline in that first surviving full-length G&S. Allen composed stage works, too: Castle Green (1865) and The Wicklow Rose (1882) and a contribution in 1875 to Spectreheim.

Now for a few more light music Allens. Most composed songs, like Thos S Allen, for his Any rags? andBy the Watermelon Vine, Leslie Allen, for Come down to Bungalow Town (1920), Hi-Tiddly-Hi-To Island (1922),Down at Casey’s Cabaret and Oh! what a difference, Henry R Allen, whose Maid of Athens was a popular ballad,Muriel Allen, whose own ballads included Softly in the shadows, If you should call (1946) andI walked in my garden (1951), and Harold Allen, whose one song I have found has the intriguing title Do shrimps make good mothers?

He was surely different from the Harold Allen who wrote for young performers including Winds blow south (1975) for solo clarinet. Patrick Brandon was another to write for unaccompanied clarinet in the shape of the Twelve miniatures of 1982 (around the same time, so did Havelock Nelson and Paul Harvey, previously Garlanded).

Finally a mention for Simon Whiteside, for his music for TV, most recently an impressive score written jointly with Rob Lane, also previously covered, for the BBC1 feature Leonardo (2003).

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2003

A 379 th Garland of British light music composers

I start with two lesser-known figures from the Victorian musical stage. Thomas Thorpe Pede was manager of the Alexandra Theatre, Camden Town, and his three one-act operettas, A lesson in love, Marguerite and Moonstruck, were all staged there, all in the year 1873.F W Allwood was musical director to a touring company who also composed the music for two shows divided by sixteen years: Haymaking, or The pleasures of country life (1877) and The Piper of Hamelin (1893-4) – the former was known only to the provincial touring circuit, but the latter made the London stage at the Vaudeville.

I am not sure whether our other two composers were related, though they were active at roughly the same time. Edith Pearson composed ballads (e.g. These are the lovely things, 1955, Because I walk with you, 1957, and Evensong, 1957) and short choral pieces suited to young voices (Spring-time, 1958, The harvest, 1959, and A star that shone, 1965). William Dean Pearson, born in Huddersfield in 1905 and whose career was in musical education (as Music Adviser) latterly in Cornwall and Manchester, wrote for voices too (he published the unison song Clouds will sail and winds will blow) but also, in addition to a string quartet and organ music, short instrumental pieces like The hunt, for flute, oboe, clarinet and horn or bassoon, Scherzando and Adagio for oboe and piano, Two Carols for viola and piano, Three flute tunes, Three pieces for recorder and piano, Three pastoral fugues for flute and oboe and Pastorella for flutes.

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2003

A 380 th Garland of British light music composers

We start with two similarly named composers who were both active at roughly the same time. Harry Gill was basically a composer of songs, some of them being lightish and ballad-like, such as A Saxon Song (1943), About my father’s farm (1947) and Love forsaken, others being suitable for younger performers like the nine songs making up My first Praise Book, published in 1953. He is not to be confused with Robert Gill, compiler of medleys, for example of Noel Coward melodies and Tunes of 1914-18, and also a film composer, notably for the British film South of Algiers (1952).

Kate Rusby and John McCusker combined to furnish a score to accompany Radio 4’s dramatisation of Mary Webb’sPrecious Bane in May 2003. And Peter Ginette, not so far as I know a pseudonym, merits a mention for his piano miniature Dancing daffodils, published in 1951.

A quarter of a century or so ago, I attended a lecture-recital on brass instruments by Walter Godden who, I recall, even got a tune out of a curtain rail! In the same programme I remember him playing an attractive Coach Horn Galop, almost the equal of the enormously popularPost Horn Galop by Monsieur Koenig, Louis Jullien’s principal cornettist - and indeed Booseys did publish a whole book of 25 Coach horn tunes by Godden.

Philip L Scowcroft

April 2003


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