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Garlands426-430

A 426th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I will take up where I left off last time with a few more composers named Phillips. From early in the 20th century there were the ballad composers Walter Phillips, composer of e.g. A Son of the Desert am I and A Lovell Phillips who published Waiting and Which Way? and from a little later John C Phillips whose The Birds is dated 1951. And Freddie Phillips earns a mention for his songs for the children's TV series Camberwick Green and Trumpton, both from the late 1960s and his earlier (1962) orchestral novelty, Parade of the Pixies.

Now let us move from the Phillips clan and turn to the English musical theatre of the pre-1914 era. Stephen Philpot composed two musicals, one - Bill Adams, The Hero of Waterloo (toured in 1903 and revived in 1912) - a modest success, the other The Algerian Girl (1911), a failure. And one R Hess was involved with Percy Fletcher, in composing the score of the one act "conventional tragical musical absurdity" An Exile From Home, which managed about a dozen outings at the Savoy in 1906. But Hess, not related, so far as I know, to the pianist Myra or the composer Nigel, is a shadowy figure and I have no note of anything else by him.

Philip L Scowcroft

August 2003

A 427th Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin this time with Lucy E Broadwood (1858-1929) of the family which made Broadwood pianos and who is best known for collecting and, in some cases, arranging folk-songs. Her arrangements included Oh Yarmouth is a Pretty Town and Some Rival Has Stolen My True Love and jointly with J A Fuller-Maitland, previously noted, The Golden Vanity and The Keys of Heaven. It is this latter song which particularly admits her to a survey of British light music practitioners as this was her arrangement, so popular at ballad concerts, not least those where Clara Butt and her husband Kennerley Rumford were singing.

Stephen Fowkes published compositions include church music but some of it is popular like the cantata Mister Abraham (1982) and sundry carols. George Frederick Broadhead, active around mid-century, published church music, part-songs and organ solos but also ballad-type songs including Dream Pedlary and Knights of Chivalry.

Margaret Campbell Bruce , whose floreat as a composer was at a similar period, published ballad-like songs such as The Rain (1951), Snow (1957) and The Shepherdess (1952), various part-songs and the Dance Diversions for piano solo.

Finally, a word for Morag Thorpe for her children's musical Spud Pirate and the Very Hungry Crocodile, presently (early autumn 2003), being toured.

Philip L Scowcroft

July 2003

A 428th Garland of British Light Music Composers

The figures in my first paragraph all have one thing in common - they composed at least one lightish piece for piano duet (one piano four hands). Fred Barlow published Plaisir du Jour, pieces for piano duet, in 1957; he may have been related to Sybil Barlow, previously noted, who also published for piano duet (Two Scenes from a Fairy Tale) as well as for piano solo. A Fairbarn Barnes composed a Duo Giocoso, Clifford Curwin Six French Nursery Songs (1952) as well as unison songs. Olive Wood Happy Partners (seven easy duets) in 1938 and Dorothy Hogben, particularly active in the 1960s and 1970s, published Punch & Judy Show in six short movements (she also wrote church music and songs like The Shawl).

And so finally to Bernard Green (1901-72), Austrian-born but resident in Britain after the mid-1930s. His biggest success was Balalaika (1936), composed jointly with George Posford noted earlier (real name Benjamin George Ashwell (1906-76)). The later Green/Posford show Paprika (1937) was much less successful, even after it was revived as Magyar Melody (1938). Green later wrote some songs for his fellow Austrian-born English-domiciled Richard Tauber's musical Old Chelsea, brought out editions of Viennese operettas by others and indeed compiled a Rhapsody on Lehár Melodies.

Philip L Scowcroft

August 2003

A 429th Garland of British Light Music Composers

Our composers in this Garland all had their floreats during the Victorian era, though at least one of them survived well into the twentieth century. One Mr Wheeler figured many times in the dance programmes of the 1880s with items like Chic Polka and Daisy Waltz; I am not sure whether he can be identified with the Clarence E Wheeler who was responsible for the orchestral novelty The Little Clock on the Mantel, date unknown.

Godfrey Marks was responsible for ballads like Little Painted Doll and Sailing. J R Thomas (1829-96) also wrote ballads and in profusion, titles such as Annie of the Vale, The Cottage by the Sea, Down By The Riverside I Stray, The Owl,The Rose of Killarney, The Moonlit Sea, Forget If You Can, But Forgive and much the best known of them,Eileen Alannah. He also composed cantatas, one of them, The Picnic, for children and another described as a parlour opera Diamond Cut Diamond. And T Vincent Davies' songs included Creep Mouse and The Iron-Clad Tar; he is also credited with the Welsh rugger song Sospiri Fach.

That leaves us with Joseph Leopold Roeckel (1838-1923), English-domiciled for much of his life, whom we have visited in a previous Garland. He too composed cantatas and a varied portfolio of songs, among them The Stormfiend, Angus Macdonald, Wishes and Fishes , The Green Isle of Erin, A Pathway Fair, Trust Me Darling, Two's Company, Three's None, The Children in the Wood and, best known of them all in both solo and choral versions, The Skippers of St Ives - A Cornish Song. The choral version (TTBB) is still popular. He also published two books of two-part Songs of Nature, and he also brought out some instrumental music as well, including The Spinning Wheel, for piano and Hibernian Suite (in three movements: Love Song, Lament, Irish Jig) and a Graceful Dance (from his cantata The Hours), both for orchestra.

Philip L Scowcroft

August 2003

A 430th Garland of British Light Music Composers

First a brief mention for Eva Fovargue, active as a composer of (among other things) unison songs, including Tony The Turtle (1957) and A Song of Thanks (1962) during the 1950s and 1960s.

George D Fox composed cantatas (like The Jackdaw of Rheims) and drawing room music (including ballads like Bonny Wee Thing, The Penny Whistler and Reading Town) but he spent much of his time in the musical theatre, as actor/singer, composer and latterly, musical director. He played in several operettas of the 1870s and 1880s including one of the earliest productions of Trial By Jury (in the role of the Counsel for the Prosecution) and The Captain of the Guard (1882, for which he wrote the score himself). Other theatrical compositions included the operetta Contrary Winds (1882), the "romantic musical play" Lovers (1886), the romantic comic opera Macaire (1887), Our Babies, a musical comedy drama (1889), and finally the felicitously titled The Lady Cyclist, or A Bicycle Belle, a musical comedy of 1897. All these were toured provincially; none made the West End.

A namesake, Douglas Gerard Arthur Fox (1893-?), teacher, organist, examiner and conductor, just about scrapes into the Garlands' scope, on account of the incidental music he wrote for Agamemnon and Antigone, while he was Director of Music at Bradfield College (1918-30). And another teacher and organist, Inverness-born Donald Frazer (1916-) earns mention for his four books of songs for children, but in Chinese as in 1952 he became Organiser of Music in Hong Kong.

Philip L Scowcroft

September 2003
 


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