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A 401st Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with a group of composers primarily for piano who were active during the first half of the 20th century. George F Mackay for his Caricature Dance Suite (1930) and the Four Folk Dance Miniatures (he also composed short choral songs); Frederic Mullen for Vivace Alla Burla (he also arranged classics for young players); W J Newstead for Wings;Florence Margaret (Peggy) Spencer Palmer, born in 1900, a teacher especially in the Bristol area, for her Festive Pieces ( Preamble and Country Dance) and sundry variations (her song, The Gate of the Year, was popular and she published unison songs, music for wind trio and Sarabande and Bagatelle for cello and piano); Eva Pain (for Lullaby, Reflections,Ruritanian Dance, To Horse and Away and for piano duet, Fancy Dress Scales); Dora Pearl-Mann forVision Victorieuse (1942); M W Pursey for Three Light Studies (Romance, Petals in the Wind, The Chase) published in 1924; and T P Ryder for Nightfall and The Bluebells of Scotland.

F H Losey was a march composer (Waldmere was one example). And we end with Mar Mackie, arranger, compiler of medleys for radio (examples are George Edwardes' Shows and The Travelling Clock of various popular tunes) and composer of music for radio features:Friends and Relations, Mirror of the Month, Ballerina Story, Ten Years After (Britain Under Fire), Essex Journey, First Half Century and Caricaturia.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 402nd Garland of British Light Music Composers

I continue to revive the names of those who composed (in some cases inter alia) forgotten gems of lightish piano music. There were, for example, H Scott Baker for his suite Grim Tudor Times, Geraldine Thomsen (born in 1917), and who later lived in Czechoslovakia, for Stately Dance (1941) (she composed much more serious music but her works also included an overture and the balletNausicaa), J W Turner for Fairy Wedding Waltz, May Webb for Twilight Tapestry (1950), Maud Wingate for Morgenlied and a Prelude in B and Charles Wright for The Bells of St Paul's.

Jack Simpson , who was active in the first Second World War period was best known for his orchestral compositions like On Another Track for xylophone and orchestra, Red Hearts (jointly composed with Frederick Charrosin, covered in a previous Garland) and probably Legion Patrol (1948) though I have discovered this only in a version for piano.

Finally Trevor Widdiccombe produced, during the 1950s and 1960s, a good deal for young performers: vocal pieces, including unison songs, many items for novices on string instruments (the Ebford Suite and Miniature Quartet) and, for piano duettists, Circus Parade (1954)

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 403rd Garland of British Light Music Composers

We start in the Victorian era with a Mr Batho who wrote music for Victorian ballrooms including the Dreamland waltz.

Moving to the middle of the 20th century Reynell Grissell earns a mention for his Pastorale for oboe and piano published in 1954. Another who had a short oboe piece published about the same time was Gerald Gover (1914-?) whose April Song also appeared in 1954; Gover who was born in South Wales, was a pianist and conductor and also composed over a hundred songs including Craigie Down Wood and The Soldier.

Kenneth Leslie Smith wrote a number of ballad-type songs, most famous of which was probably One Love For Ever (1942).

Now for a number of violin composers: Ralph Hood for his pieces for young players including Barcarole, A Little Waltz, and Step by Step; Harry Idle, for Gavotte Gracieuse, Valse Romantique, Berceuse (1957) andConcert Caprice and various violin tutors; Walter Kelsey for Six Fiddle Tales, published by KPM; and Bernard Shore. Shore (1896-1985) was really a viola player (I remember him giving a recital in Doncaster in 1976), who studied at the Royal College of Music and was for many years principal viola with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He composed too, songs and violin pieces, notably a Scherzo published in both violin and viola versions.

Finally, a mention for Adrian Burch and David Whitaker for the incidental music they composed for ITV's The Royal.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 404th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Our first entries feature composers who published lightish music for cello and piano. There were for example Arthur Beckwith ( Morceau) and Onslow Traherne (A Funny Little Fairy Story, 1921), both pieces arranged for cello by one of the Sharpes, probably Cecil. F Purcell Warren from roughly the same period, might have been expected to become a composer by being christened 'Purcell' (one thinks also of Purcell J Mansfield and Edward Purcell Cockram, both previously Garlanded) and he duly obliged with Five Short Pieces ( An Absent One, A Little Crocodile Song, Whims, So Seems It and A Sunday Evening in Autumn) published in 1914 and an Adagio (1928) both for cello and piano and some Variations for string quartet.

James Friskin (1886-1967) was born in Glasgow and studied composition (with Stanford) and piano at the RCM. He later married the viola player and composer Rebecca Clarke, having emigrated to the USA, where he died. His portfolio of compositions is not large, comprising songs, choral works, extended chamber works and a few short lightish miniatures for cello and piano including Scherzo (1910), Impromptu (1910) and Romance (1915).

Finally for a group of composers of light 'chamber music' (i.e. for piano trio or string quartet) active between the wars: Henry Coleman for his arrangements of Irish folk airs, W H Ford (1861-1938) for June Flowers (Morceaux de Salon) for piano trio;Franklin Harvey for Three Pieces for piano trio (Melody, Variations on Robin Adair, English Dance);Arthur Trew for his Quartet Pieces (1932) and Triolets (for piano trio: three sets, 1928-31), R F Wood-Smith (1885-?) for his Miniature Suite for string quartet.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 405th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Benno Hollander (1853-1942), who was unrelated to the German Hollander family of composer/conductors, Gustav (1855-1915), Victor (1866-1940) and Friedrich (1892-1976), the last of whom went to America and wrote songs for Hollywood movies, may have been British, perhaps by adoption; he composed a Violin Concerto and on the lighter side the suite Christmas Fantasia (Christmas Eve, Santa Claus' Ride Thro' Space, Christmas Day, Vesper Vale, Frolic) and the song Ariel.

I have garlanded a number of Hollands previously and here is another. B T C Holland, who published a Suite for two guitars in 1977. He (or she) appears to be a one work composer.

Next a mention for Christopher Bruce and for his score for the Ballet Rambert's Ghost Dances.

A Christmas Nativity: A Mime with Narrative and Carols (1973) was jointly written by Pauline Andrew and Lesley Fanton (again I know of nothing else by them). Mark Andrews has also written inter alia music for children. His namesake Chris Andrews wrote popular songs and also contributed the scores for the musical Tom Brown's Schooldays (1972), first heard in an amateur performance, then transferred to a shortish run in the West End with 70-odd performers.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003


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