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Garlands406-410

A 406th Garland of British Light Music Composers

To begin with, here are a few more ballad composers from either side of 1900. W Battison Haynes (1859-1900) might not have felt that his collection of Elizabethan Lyrics fell into the ballad category, but Off To Philadelphia and The Old Plaid Shawl certainly figured in ballad concerts. C B Hawley's ballads included several of a horticultural bent including The Sweetest Flower, The Nightingale and The Rose and In a Garden. The Sweetest Flower was also set by Robert Batten, who in addition composed April Morn, The Harvest Dance, Peace and Rest (1902) and Tom, Jan and Harry.

Harry Richardson also composed songs, among them The King, God Bless Him, but he was much more a man of the theatre. He conducted (in 1901 he was directing H V Wood's No. 1 Company touring the provinces) and went into theatre management. And he composed the music for two, possibly three, musicals: The Indian Prince (1897, a 'musical sporting comedy', possibly inspired by the cricketer K S Ranjitsuhji), The Girl in the Picture (1912) and The Columbo Girl (also 1912). In his magnum opus Kurt Ganzl does not attribute the score to anyone but Richardson who managed the show may well have provided it.

Finally, a mention for Charles H Fogg, father of Eric, who published a number of light miniatures like the organ soloPetits Vagues ('Little Waves'), dated 1908. I recently heard a lively piece of library music entitled The Handy Man, credited to ' Russell' and 'Chisholm'. But who were Russell and Chisholm?

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2003

A 407th Garland of British Light Music Composers

My first paragraph is devoted to a little group of composers of light music for the organ. W G Ross who published a Berceuse in A major in 1930; M L Wolstenholme for his April Song of 1915; Cliff Roberts; andGordon Balch Nevin. Roberts was active either side of the Great War with pieces like Triumphal March (1914), Cantilène (1915), Chant du Matin (1916), Intermezzo and Sunset Reverie (1931). Nevin (1892-1943), not to be confused with two American composers of that name, published Rural Sketches (1923) and A Sylvan Idyll (1931).

Now for another clutch of composers for the musical stage. Mostly these were 'singletons' but one exception was Alan Klein who was also a lyricist, who wrote the music for the so-styled 'candyfloss entertainment' Costa Packet (1972), Look Out It's Sir (1975), The Living Dead (1979) and Mr Tucker's Pageant (1981) - all of them, bar The Living Dead (produced at Leicester) saw the light of day at Stratford East.

Several of these composers were also conductors: Les Reed, who composed And Then I Wrote, in 1984; Tony Pole, who composed (with Bob Bowman) Pudding Lane (1982); and Chris Littlewood (Gilgamesh!, 1978, and Miss Leading Lady (1979). Mike D'Abo was however primarily an actor who took the title role in his Gulliver's Travels at The Mermaid in 1975-76, for which he had written the song lyrics and the music. Ernest Maxin was a TV producer who provided book, music, lyrics and direction for Barnardo which flopped at the Royalty Theatre in 1980. And Kathleen Johnson, the last of these singletons, was responsible for Gavin and the Monster, staged at Westminster in 1982.

Philip L Scowcroft

July 2003

A 408th Garland of British Light Music Composers

To begin with here are three composers called Blackburn, whose work could hardly be much more different. There is Maurice Blackburn, known only for the string miniature Bal a l'Huile ('Oil Ballet') for string orchestra. There is Marie Blackburn who published a recorder tutor and other music for young children including A Score of Nursery Rhymes for piano solo. And, more famously, there wasBryan Blackburn, known for writing songs for revues and also the book, lyrics and music for the spoof espionage musical Come Spy With Me which had 466 outings at the Whitehall Theatre in 1966-67 and had a piano selection published of its best tunes.

While on names of Lancashire towns we may note Winifred Bury for her carols including Sing, Noel Noel and Cecil Bolton, prolific arranger and occasional composer of Gardener's Tap for brass band and 22ct Gold for various combinations including piano solo.

Philip Hattey , born in 1911, was a bass-baritone singer but he published music, too - a song, Jean, and for chorus, How Sleep The Brave, Three Spirituals and, quite popular in its day, A Sequence of Carols.

Finally we come to John Hanson, born in 1922, best remembered for his singing of the tenor roles in The Student Prince and The Desert Song from the 1950s onwards. However he also wrote a musical of his own (book, lyrics and music) entitled When You're Young, toured in 1966. This was an adaptation of the pre-war musical Smilin' Through, under which title it was revived in 1972, when it had a brief West End run; a piano selection from When You're Young was published.

Philip L Scowcroft

July 2003

A 409th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Nat Temple born in 1913 and at the time of writing still alive at the age of 90, is more of a jazz musician than a light music exponent. He played as saxophonist and clarinettist with dance bands like Harry Roy, Geraldo, Ambrose and Lew Stone. After playing with the Band of the Grenadier Guards during the War he became particularly associated with BBC radio programmes including Bernard Braden and also with children's and other television. He composed too, music for American TV, plus his signature tune Nattering Around. The rapid motion mood-picture Audacity is mainstream light music rather than jazz; Burma Road and Canzonetta lie somewhere between the two genres.

Now for two very different theatre composers: Lynne Plowman, based in Cardiff, emerged from obscurity in 2002 with her 'opera for all ages' Gwyneth and the Green Knight. This was revived the following year by Opera North. Henry Osmond whose floreat was a century or so before, composed, with others, book, lyrics and music for the musicals Miss Plaster of Paris (1910) and Miss Lamb of Canterbury (1913).

Carol Lucas published in 1970, a cantata for unison voices, piano and ad lib recorders and percussion entitled Ark for Noah. I know of nothing else by her.

Finally the Rt Hon Lord Henry Somerset, PC, JP, DL (1849-1932) was a Member of Parliament and Comptroller of the Royal Household. 1874-79. He also composed religious and other ballads including Hush Me O Sorrow, The First Spring Day, A Birthday, One More, Where'er you go, Down, Across the Blue Sea, To Apollo, A Song of May, A Song of Hope, and, especially popular, Echo and A Song of Sleep, both recently recorded by Sir Thomas Allen. Some, perhaps all, of these songs have been attributed to Lord Somerset's kinsman Henry Vere Fitzroy Somerset (1898-1965).

Philip L Scowcroft

July 2003

A 410th Garland of British Light Music Composers

David Lord , born in 1944, has a considerable variety of compositions in his portfolio, many of them quite light in character: a Concertino for harpsichord and orchestra (1970), Nonsongs, a unison song The Ferryman, cantatas for (mainly) young performers, among them The History of the Flood, for narrator, chorus, percussion and piano duet and The Sea Journey, for treble voices, percussion, recorders and piano duet, plus music for films, television and radio including for the latter, the recent adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (2003).

To add to various Saunders in previous Garlands, here is Rosamund Saunders, who published a tutor on the flute and composed Clock Duets for two flutes, published in 1962. Educated at the RCM, she lived in Portsmouth and was a flautist, teacher and lecturer.

Our TV composers this time can be David Lowe, for, most recently (2003), Channel 4's Britain's Best Homes and James Harpham for (going back a number of years) Tenko.

Finally for two ballad composers: Paul Andrews, born in 1891, whose best known song was The Winding Road (1941); and John Bawcomb, active in the 1940s, when Consolation, Pearls (1947) and I Heard a Song (1948) all enjoyed popularity.

Philip L Scowcroft

July 2003

 


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