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A 386th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Once again I concentrate on composers of ballads and other popular songs; six of them who were basically active between say the 1920s and 1950s. Two of these were called Elliott, but they were not, so far as I was aware, related. The only song I could find by Ernest Elliott was The Song of the Tinker: A Roadside Study (1930). By contrast Leslie Elliott was prolific with songs such as Beyond the Hills of Time, The Convoy Must Go Through, The Fairy in the Chimney, Life Brings a Song,On the Road to Ballyshee, The Pixie Piper Maid, The Fiddler of June, The Flute Across the Lake,The Valley Where Wishes Come True, The Good Lord's Satisfied (1946) and, from the film Keep Smiling, You've Got to be Smart in the Army Nowadays.

W G Eaton 's songs included And Then The Band Played, First, Second and Third, I'm Living With Mother Now, Mabel Sweet Mabel, Oh the Fairies, You'll All Be Wanted and particularly popular, Isn't It Lovely? Porteous Ewing may have been related to Montague Ewing, prolific composer of orchestral and instrumental genre pieces and songs; Porteous' song output included This England (1949).

Clara Edwards brought out some church music and one or two of her ballads were sacred in feel, other titles included Birds, The Snow,At The Hint of Spring, At the Bed of the River, The Fisher's Widow, Gipsy Life, Into The Night,My Homeland, My Shrine (1948), My Little Brown Nest By The Sea, Sometimes At Close of Day, Spain and With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair.

Hubert Eisdell (1882-1948), educated at Whitgift School and Gonville & Caius College Cambridge, was a noted tenor singer, not least in various series of ballad concerts. He composed not a few ballads himself. Best known of them was Loughareema; other titles were A Little Wooing and the five songs Wherefores and Whys: The Glow-Worm, The Gold Fish, The Worm, The Oyster and The Whale.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 387th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Before passing on to another clutch of song composers here is a mention for Tony Fraser, who published in 1983 for young accordionists Scoobie (alla marcia) and Nicola (Valse moderato).

Donald Ford 's output also contains much which was suitable for young performers: unison songs like There isn't time (1956), Orion (1964) andPrayer for Gentlemen, two-part songs April and Slow, Horses Slow, simple pieces for young violinists, and solo songs includingThe Beautiful House, Close Thine Eyes, The Dressmaker, Little Shepherd, Nod, Romance (1922), Thanks to You (1947) and To Daffodils.

Ford was born in 1894; Cliff Friend was born in the previous year, but his song output was somewhat different in air and emphasis. He contributed a song I Think You're Wonderful to the 1926 musical comedy Lady Letty, toured through the provinces. Other Friend songs (and this just a sample, many others being written, often jointly with other composers) included My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now, What's Good for the Goose, Where the Lazy Daisies Grow and You Tell Her - I Stutter.

Harriet Fawn 's popular songs from around the 1920s, included There Ain't A Word and Thick. Two song writers from the 1950s were not prolific; I have found just one song each by Frank Fox (The Way To Happiness, 1952) and John Fraser (Dreams, 1954). Alan Vincent sometimes in musical education in Kent, where he has conducted choirs and orchestras, is worth a mention for this choral number Dream World.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 388th Garland of British Light Music Composers

In the past these Garlands have touched on the Godfrey family, a musical dynasty of four generations. But there were other Godfreys not connected with that noted family. Some we have previously mentioned - here are a few others.

Two of them were song composers: Graham Godfrey published Phillida in 1947 and Ivor Godfrey's ballad like titles were Roses and You and Tell Me That You Love Me, Michael Godfrey was associated with Sindbad: A Musical Entertainment for 9-13 year olds, published in 1985, but he wrote only the words, the music was by Paul Smith.

Steve Graham 's reputation as a ballad composer seems to rest on just one song, though a popular one, Dear Old Donegal (1942), Another song composer wasUrsula Greville whose titles included Foxgloves, The Skeleton Tree, Years, When I Pass By and a setting of the Pedlar's Song from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, though I do not know if it was used in a production.

Stuart Hamblen was active as a popular song composer during the 1950s with titles like These Things Shall Pass, Open Up Your Heart (1953), and This Ole House (1954). Janet Hamilton came from a generation earlier, her best known song being Rest At Mid-Day (1919). Progressing further back the Victorian ballad composer H P Danks, composer of Silver Threads Among the Gold was also responsible for Don't Be Angry With Me Darling and Roses Under the Snow.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 389th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with David Ellis, born in Liverpool in 1933, who studied at the former Royal Manchester College of Music and who worked for the BBC in Manchester, eventually becoming Head of Music (North). He has been a prolific composer mainly of serious music in a reasonably approachable idiom; his lighter works include Fred's Blue Ginger Staircase Music, in up-tempo idiom ("Fred" and "Ginger" are Astaire and Rogers) and inspired by an old house in Stockport, Carols for an Island Christmas (1973) for SATB chorus, trumpets, strings and piano, with optional boys' voices, woodwind and percussion, Berceuse for clarinet and piano and Suite Française for strings.

Also for young musicians was Green Meadow and Lane (1947), a group of ten solo songs by Charles Vale. From earlier in the 20th century we can mention three ballad composers who, so far as my researches go, seem to be one work composers: the Irishman M K O'Farrelley for The Old Bog Road (1921), Winifred Vaughan for Pearl of the West (My Cornish Haven), also published in 1921, and Valentine Vousden for the Irish Jaunting Car. He could have been related to the theatre conductor and composer Ernest Vousden, active during the 1910s and 1920s, but I have not yet been able to establish this one way or the other.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

A 390th Garland of British Light Music Composers

More ballad and popular composers in a moment but first for a reference to Janet King who has written piano pieces for young children: Time to Play, Playtime: Balloon on a String, Playful Kittens and, for piano duet, Sea Pictures.

Of our song composers, Elizabeth Kinnersley seems to be a singleton with just Rose in My Garden Dreaming (1952) discovered so far. Walter Kent was more prolific with titles like Portrait of a Lad, So Red the Rose, When Roses Bloom Again and easily the best known, The White Cliffs of Dover. Even better known in his day was Harry Lauder (1870-1950), Scots singer/songwriter, is still well remembered for Stop Yer Tickling Jock, I Love a Lassie, Roamin' in the Gloamin',The End of the Road (these four arranged as a medley for Friday Night is Music Night by Peter Hope) andJust a Wee Deoch and Doris. And Welshman John Morgan Lloyd composed songs like Dilys (1945) and Song of the Nightingale.

A mention now for Arthur Meredyth who jointly composed (with the much more prolific George Byng) the musical Punch and Judy, toured through provincial theatres during 1900.

John Turner (1943-) is one of our finest, and with some 300 premieres to his credit, most enterprising recorder players. He composes too, December Music for recorder trio, Four Diversions for descant recorder and piano and A Christmas Garland, six carols for unison voices and piano.

Philip L Scowcroft

May 2003

 


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