A 391st Garland of British Light Music Composers
I begin with a little group of Victorian ballad composers, each of whom is represented by just one song (all performed at a concert in Doncaster in 1878):J M Sayles for Beautiful Star in Heaven so Bright; F M Bentley for The Tar's Lament andR Ethel Harraden, born in 1856 for Happy As A King. Harraden however later had something of a career on the light musical stage. All About a Bonnet, a 35 minute "operetta" was published and two other curtain-raiser operettas written jointly with her brother were put on at
The Gaiety, (1890) and The Lady in Pink (1891). She had earned her chance to compose a full length musical and this duly came at the Trafalgar
Theatre in 1895 when The Taboo was produced. Unfortunately however this lasted just a week - a beggarly seven performances - after which Harraden
faded from view.
One more singleton but from a later period, was Dorothy Mills who published I Sent You Some Violets in 1923. Albert Mallinson (1870-1946) was a song composer much of whose output was "serious" but produced also a number of songs which could have
found a place in a ballad concert - We Sway Along, Mother Mine and Eleanore.
Finally a Mention for Matthew Taylor for instrumental miniatures, including a Pastorale for French horn and piano.
Philip L Scowcroft
A 392nd Garland of British Light Music Composers
First for a further group of ballad/popular song composers active around the mid-twentieth century: Lorna Norman, whose titles includedHe That Loves a Rosy Cheek, Pan Among the Daffodils, Song of the Morning-O, A Thrush at Dawn,When to her Lute Corinna Sings (1949) and When My Lady Goes A-Shopping; Donald O'Keefe, forAt The End of the Day, Give a Helping Hand (1952), Where'er You Go (1951) and A Song Filled the World With Love; Edmund Niblett for Sing in the Morning (1951) and Hurry Along Belinda (1955) and Martin Penny, arranger
and composer of songs like There Was One (1947).
(1949-), born in Hull and educated at King’s College Cambridge is an organist and choral trainer whose career has mainly been spent in Cumbria. His
compositions include the attractive Three Dances (Spanish Dance, Sarabande and Gigue) for organ solo.
Finally we recall the achievement of Walter Parratt (1841-1924, knighted in 1892), Organist of St George's Chapel, Windsor from 1882,
Master of the Queen's (King's) Music 1893-1924 and Professor of the Royal College of Music. Unsurprisingly he composed church music, but on the lighter
side he wrote incidental music for stage plays and songs such as If a Pig Wore a Wig, Rosy Maiden Winifred and Sing Me A Song,
all published in 1916.
Philip L Scowcroft
A 393rd Garland of British Light Music Composers
I start with Paul Mottram whose compositions include the music for the BBC radio sitcom Rigor Mortis, broadcast on Radio 4 in
Now for another sheaf of ballad/popular song writers from sundry periods. Maurice Scott, active particularly in the pre-Great War era,
seems to have specialised particularly in music hall type songs like Hear the Ukeleles, The Little White Hill of Dreams,One of the Boys, Swing Me Higher, Obadiah, That's The Time a Fella Wants His Ma, published in 1908, Friends and Neighbours and A Nice Quiet Day, or The Postman's Holiday. Another song, I've Got Rings on my Fingers, was inserted
into the musical Captain Kidd (1910) for which most of the music was written by Leslie Stuart (1864-1928).
Talking of the music hall George Robey (1869-1954), a great actor and music hall artiste, composed a number of songs for the halls, like The Auctioneer, I Couldn't Exert Myself and Fancy That. James H Rogers produced songs at roughly the same
period as Maurice Scott, but Rogers' efforts more resembled the drawing room ballad type: Julia's Garden (1902),April Weather (1904), At Parting (1906), The Time for Making Songs Has Come, Wind Song and especially popular - The Star. Reginald Royce published his song Canterbury Bells (I know of no others by him) in 1919, just after the Great
War and others who published popular songs just after 1945 were Walter Ridley (Christmas Love, 1948),Gladys Ross (Dear Lord, 1951), Clifford Shaw (To You, 1952), John Stokes (alsoTo You, again 1952, and subsequently used in a Friday Night is Music Night programme) and David Saxon ( Speak a Word of Love and I Can't Think of a Thing to Do, both published in 1949.
Philip L Scowcroft
A 394th Garland of British Light Music Composers
I begin with John Ritchie, born in 1921, who among more serious compositions - notably a clarinet concerto - penned one or two lighter
pieces such as the setting of To Daffodils for male voice choir (TBB) and a solo setting of Under the Greenwood Tree (1951), from
Shakespeare's As You Like It. I do not know if it was used in an actual production.
is a figure not without interest. He worked for Chappells publishing house during the 1950s and composed a number of orchestral miniatures based on folk
melodies from around the world, which appear to have been performed by the Frank Cantell Orchestra - the scores and parts were certainly in the Frank
Cantell library, which is now in Ernest Tomlinson's Library of Light Orchestral Music. His titles include Banjo Caper, Red Headed Family, Two Baltic Ballads, En Avant Grenada (a Creole march), Evening Breeze and Jester's Dance.
Three more library composers, all for Chappells' with just one example of their work: James Clarke (Fancy Free), Duncan Lamont (Bossa For Bridget); and Frank Barclay (Sandwich Bar).
Finally, Bristol-born Roger Webb (1934-2002) composed and arranged for films (including The Godsend andThe Horrors of Burke and Hare), television and the theatre. He too composed library mood miniatures, titles including Swing Song, Happy Folk, For Deborah, The Winners and The Waiting Game.
Philip L Scowcroft
A 395th Garland of British Light Music Composers
A surprising number of figures which may be reckoned as purveyors of light music have been called Taylor. We have probably dealt with Colin Taylor, born in 1881, and active into the 1960s, both as a vocal and instrumental composer. Other similarly called song composers
are Cyril V Taylor (for Longing, 1935; he wrote church music too), W H Taylor (for So Dear To Me) and A Stanley Taylor (for The Tramp, 1928, The Passionate Shepherd, 1928 and The Daisy's Song, 1934, all no doubt
in the pastoral tradition as were many of Colin Taylor's songs. More recently Herbert F Taylor merits mention for his orchestral Prelude to a Ceremony which appeared in 1973.
was described as being "from Vienna" in the contemporary theatre press when his musical comedy Fritzi was produced over here in 1935; one may
however cast some doubt on whether he was Austrian, as his ballad type songs Haunting Perfume (1929) and Strolling had been published
previously over here to English words.
Finally three more popular song composers: Grant Wellesley, whose music hall type numbers includedSing Me a Chantey with a Yo-Heave-Ho (1932); Oscar W Walters for My Love Song to a Tree (1945): andLeslie Walters for his solo songs The Anniversary, Disillusion, Where Wild Flowers Grow, When I Set Out For Lyonesse, Spring, The Travelling Man (1957) and Frolic and for unison effusions like The Birds and The Galley Rowers.
Philip L Scowcroft