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A 381st Garland of British Light Music Composers

Again we start with two lesser known figures from the Victorian and Edwardian musical stage. Arthur Branscombe, who died in 1924, was best known as a librettist, most notably for the popular Morocco Bound in 1893, but he appears to have been responsible for the music of the rather less celebrated show The Boy Scout, a musical toured in 1912. Henry L Osmond was in theatre management, but he also found time to compose the music for the two musicals Miss Plaster-of-Paris (1910) and Miss Lamb of Canterbury (1914) both of which had provincial tours.

Next, for a group of song writers. First among them was operational in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign: Lindsay Lennox, whose titles included Dream Memories, Love's Golden Dream and, inspired by the sinking of the battleship HMS Victoria, The Brave That Are No More. Moving into the 20th century, R Graham Harvey's sacred song, marked the loss of the Titanic. From the Great War came Harry Dent's There's Someone Wants You (with a representation of Kitchener in the sheet music) andCharles Collins' Bravo! Territorials. And for the post-war era Fred Cecil's titles included Hurricane History and Shall Us s'lets and Alec McGill's ballads included Spring, Glorious Spring.

Some composers specialised in descriptive pieces for piano solo. I mentioned the Titanic just now. Haydon Augarde, previously Garlanded, wrote a "descriptive musical sketch", The Wreck of the Titanic published by Lawrence Wright. And twelve years before, one Ezra Read had written the "descriptive fantasie" The Relief of Ladysmith, achieved at the end of February 1900.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 382nd Garland of British Light Music Composers

Two recent composers for BBC Radio first of all. Robert Hartshorn, for A World Full of Weeping and Clive Bell for Word from Cupid - both plays transmitted in May 2003.

Now for a few song composers. Will Geddes' best known songs relate to coal mining - A Collier's Child and, apparently the first big hit for the Lawrence Wright publishing house (in about 1910), Don't Go Down the Mine Dad(dy). From later in the century there areJohn Read (at least two of his songs bear the publication date 1950) whose titles includeBank Holiday (or A Twopenny Ride on a Tramcar), Oh Julia!, Sweeter Than Jam and, probably the most popular of all, Grandmother's Chair, Sidney King Russell who may be exemplified by the Song of Spring, and May Sabestan , who composed Three Country Songs in 1949 (respectively titled Neddy, Cluck! Cluck! andNightingale in the Darkness), Peace (1936), The Two Witches (1938) and, to Siegfried Sassoon's fairly often set words, Everyone Sang.

Leslie Sarony was as much an actor - his experience as such spanned some five decades and he sang in Mr Polly in 1977 - as a songwriter. some of his songs were in fact incorporated into stage shows like I Lift Up My Finger for the musical Love Lies (1929), Far Away for the musical Silver Wings (1930) and When the Band Goes Marching By for the revue On With The Show. Independent songs, all popular in type, included After the Wedding at Donegal Bay, Ain't it grand to be blooming well dead?, Tom Thumb's Dream, Sing Love, The Clockwork Toy Parade, The Lord Mayor's Show, The Roundabout Still Goes Round (1949) and Follow The Plough.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 383rd Garland of British Light Music Composers

I will begin with the noted name of Sir Charles Santley (1834-1922, knighted in 1907), baritone singer in both the opera house and the concert hall, who published books on singing and also songs of ballad type, some issued under the name Ralph Betterton, though I have found one, entitled A Short Year Ago, performed in Doncaster in 1875 and credited to the Santley byline.

I progress to songwriters active after the second world war. Beverley Birks published a ballad, Rain or Shine in 1948,Mabel Buchanan composed All the World to Me (1946), Our Band and . Kenneth Blain's popular songs A Ballad (I Love the Swallows Flying High), and A Fishy Ditty, also his monologue The Captain's Whiskers all saw the light of day in 1947. And - a curiosity - Ethel Maude Blair published in 1962 the "road safety action song for children", Tufty Fluffytail .

What next? First, a word for Muriel Lillie, contributor of songs, including A Little Flat and Susannah's Squeaking Shoes to the Nine O'Clock Revue. And a rather longer mention for Clarence Lucas (1866-1947), the Canadian-born father of Leighton Lucas (1903-82), who studied in Montreal and Paris and taught in Toronto before coming to London (where Leighton was born) before moving on to Paris, where he died. His works included operas, a symphony and symphonic poems, the overtures As You Like It (1899) andMacbeth, incidental music including some for Peer Gynt, the Holiday Sketches suite (comprising Barcarolle, Interlude and In Alabama), a cantata, and songs including Roses and Lilies White (1943) and an SATB arrangement of Haydn Wood'sRoses of Picardy. As far as I am aware, Kathleen Lucas, composer of the songs Bells for Evensong, the song sequenceOpen Windows (comprising Open Windows, Star Lamps, Treasures and The Thrush's Nest) and They Are Calling You and Me, was not related to Clarence or Leighton.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 384th Garland of British Light Music Composers

For starters a few further popular song composers: Gerald Carne, active in the 1940s and 1950s, who published ballads likeCome Close to Me, Cowslip Bells, The Drover, It's The Same Old Homeland, Lift Up Your Hearts,Make This Our Prayer, An Old English Love, Spring Sang A Song and the four piece "cycle", Our Village; IrishmanArthur Colahan, famous for Galway Bay; Joseph Crofts, also Irish, who composed, Maureen Bawn (1948),Dry Be That Tear (1950), and Mr McGilligan's Daughter; J Harrington Young, for The Five O'Clock Bus andKing Ka-Lu-Lu (Young also arranged for bassoon and orchestra, the popular old song In Cellar Cool); W Yorston forShetland Lullaby (1930), C Warwick-Evans for They Say (1919), Harold Walden for And Only Me Knows Why (1929) and The Humming Song (1932), and Cecil Whitaker-Wilson, who had a long career as the titles I found stretch from 1914 to 1957: The Hunting Squire (1914), Smugglers (1922), England and Empire (1940) and a Christmas choral piece - St Mary's Carol (1957).

Now for a few scrappy mentions. Ada Winifred Ivy Chitty's floreat was the 1940s and 1950s when she published eight little songs called Question & Answer and other material for young musicians. Edward Croft-Murray penned the orchestral waltzVauxhall Saloon. Another double barrel, Harry Croft-Jackson was probably Scots as hisBrossey: [5] Diversions on a Theme bear titles such as Kirkwall Starlings, Firth Oysters and Hoy Hawks. Dave Scott and Neil Blenkinsop combined to provide music for the Radio 4 serial Posties (May 2003).

And finally we remember Sefton Daly who was Australian, but as his piano solos Sad Tango, A Brown Study and - perhaps best known - Colour Scheme which (along with other Daly piano solos) were recorded by him in 1942, clearly show he was patently influenced by Billy Mayerl.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 385th Garland of British Light Music Composers

To start with here are two composers of popular songs active either side of 1900. Herbert Darnley, whose publications included The Beefeater (1895), Buying a House, Mary Ann's Refused Me, and My Sweet Face, and F V St Clair, responsible for such effusions as Coming Back Home Again, As Big Ben Strikes, Friends Were Saying Good-Bye and, issued immediately after the Titanic disaster, The Ship That Never Will Return.

Ralph Dunstan (1857-1933) was particularly noted for his work on Cornish dialect and folk songs (reissued in the 1970s) and carols; other works by him included Christmas Fantasia (on carol melodies) and the song Over Hill, Over Dale, for a Midsummer Night's Dream.

Finally, for two who specialised in works for young performers. David Davis, (not to be confused with John David Da vis, who died in 1942), was active particularly in the 1950s with the trio of songs Fabulous Beasts (1951: Beasts That Were Never Born,The Pelican and The Giraffe) and the unison songs Holly Red And Mistletoe White (1957), Sam Pig's Courting Song (1958), Rainy Nights (1958), Queen Anne's Lace (1958), A Hunting Cap for Me (1959). And David Nield is worth mention for his musicals Helen Comes Home, or Achilles the Heel (1979), Tin Pan Ali (1981), The Ragged Child and Drake (1985).

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

 


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