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A 431st Garland of British Light Music Composers

I start with a recollection of Cecil Baumer who flourished between at least the 1910s and 1930s composing ballad-like songs such asAt Eventide, Homing Birds, Out on the Downs and Spring Fiddler, and much for piano - the Two Preludes (Sea Mist and Ebb Tide), the Prélude Romantique of 1938, In Calm Water (apparently the second movement of A Sailor's Life, presumable a suite), Danse des Megrillons, Idyll and from 1916, Gavotte and Musette, all for solo piano, and Grotesque, Minuet, Mélodie and Gavotte for two pianos.

The other figures who are survived by music for the piano are Hugh Bradford born in 1900 who publishedVariations on a Popular Theme: The Tin Gee-Gee in 1931 (a piano solo) and A Song Without Words for two pianos. In 1948, Phyllis Brandon had her Valse Souvenir published.

Louis W. Brand was a composer of marches - published, early in the 20th century by Hawkes in a piano arrangement was The Enquirer Club.

I conclude with two namesakes. The Manchester teacher Dorothy Bradley published much for young pianists in the 1930s, and afterwards, including the Good Morning Suite and The Magical Year. Frederick Archibald Bradley (1908 -?) educated at Trinity College London and an Essex organist, composed carols and a March in E flat.

Philip L Scowcroft
September 2003

A 432 nd Garland of British Light Music Composers

I begin with George Allen, a native of the North-East and a composer of brass band marches including The Wizard,Imperioso, Impetus, Shawville, Lefebvre, Battle Abbey, Raby (after Raby Castle in County Durham), Diomed, Bravaura (?), The Diplomat, Knight Templar and Senator.

Our TV composer is Nick Powell, his most recent score (September 2003) being that for Time Commanders (BBC2).

I am not sure whether Gita Corri was related to Clarence Corri, composer of the pre-Great War musical The Dandy Fifth but during the 1914-18 she certainly composed the patriotic song Fight, Fight, Fight.

A popular song of World War II, The White Cliffs Of Dover, is credited to Walter Kent: almost too neat, perhaps. Unfortunately Kent, whose other songs included A Portrait Of A Lady, So Red The Rose and When The Roses Bloom Again, appears to have been American.

Two orchestral composers, with a sample of each of their works: Charles Midgley for Cuban Serenade dating from the 1920s and “Sam Fonteyn” (Sam Soden) for his library miniature Diary of a Debutante, one of many.

Finally for two Smiths, organ with unison songs as a sample of their work: Reginald Joseph Smith (1906 -?) for The Windmill (1958); and Angela Smith for Five Nursery Rhymes (1957). Reginald was a teacher, organist and conductor in the West Midlands.

Philip L Scowcroft
September 2003

A 433 rd Garland of British Light Music Composers

Basil Windsor was well known as a conductor and adjudicator in the brass band world either side of 1930. He composed, too, and his Alpine Echoes remains popular with bands to this day.

The Fratelli Brothers have written incidental music for radio and TV, most recently and attractively for the current (September/October 2003) BBC 2 feature Seven Wonders Of The Industrial World, but I know nothing else about them.

Piccolo solos were common around the end of the 19th century and at the start of the 20th, George Ray went one better with his polka for two piccolos and orchestra, The Two Nightingales.

Patrick Niland 's music for young performers may be exemplified by his Jack Dandy Song Book of 1982.

And so finally to Leslie Walters who was born in 1902 and who went to the Guildhall School. He then earned his living as a Civil Servant, so composition was a spare-time occupation: his work-list included a fair number of songs and part-songs. Some of them light-hearted likeMischief In The Kitchen, a number of short instrumental and orchestral movements like Syrinx for oboe and orchestra, Two Welsh Pastoral Scenes and Sea Story for cello and piano.

Philip L Scowcroft
September 2003

A 434 th Garland of British Light Music Composers

First, for three composers involved somewhat peripherally in the musical theatre during the 1940s. Ernest (or Ernst) Steffan contributed songs to the musical I Call It Love in 1944 which was toured through the provinces. German in origin, Steffan had been around for quite a while as he had contributed songs to the 1915 West End hit Betty most of whose music was by Paul Rubens. Leon Carroll made some contributions to the musical Hearts Are Trumps, which did the provincial rounds in 1943. And, also from 1943, Gaby Rogers, along with bandleader Harry Roy (1900-71) and Harry Phillips, brother of Sid and Woolf, contributed bits of the score of the musical It's Time To Dance, one of whose hits was Yankee Doodle Came To London Town.

My TV composer this time is Mark Heaton Stewart whose most recent work is the gently enjoyable score for the medical sitcom Sweet Medicine (September 2003).

Finally for some composers from the 1880s, for the ballroom a Mr. Seddon for his Highland Schottische,L. Wheeler for his Chic Polka and Caroline Lowther for her Black and Tan Polka and the waltzesAuf Wiedersehen and particularly popular Myosotis and for brass band (P Howe for his polka The Jersey Lily and C Brook for his march Plantagenet). All seven pieces I mention in this paragraph were heard in Doncaster during the year 1886.

Philip L Scowcroft
September 2003

A 435 th Garland of British Light Music Composers

These Garlands have included many surprising figures as light music composers albeit peripherally. Another one of these was John Stainer (1840-1901), professor and church musician who also produced a book of rounds for schools and wrote a few secular songs and partsongs not to mention one or two short organ solos. The breadth and warmth of Stainer's melodic lines would add conviction to any light(ish) music he was minded to write.

One song/ballad composer I have not previously touched on is T. Wilkinson Stephenson , active either side of the Great War, his titles including If I can Love, When We Two Parted, Ships That Pass In The Night, Nanette, Love's Garland and Ships Of My Dreams.

Now for three composers who, during the 1950s, had the occasional light descriptive piano pieces published. Lesley Steele forSonia (1957); Ronald Steel for Sleepy Head and The Clock On The Stairs (1954) and Leo Stephens for Silks and Dancing Shoes and Dresden Shepherdess (both 1958).

And finally to Eric William Stapleton, born in 1917 and educated at the Guildhall School and a violin teacher, published an Overture For A Festival for brass band and a lightish vocal piece In Praise Of Essex both, coincidentally in 1971.

Philip L Scowcroft
September 2003

 


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