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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

A FIFTIETH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

We begin this Golden issue with FREDERICK BOYCE (1913-70), whose real name was FREDERICK BAYCOCK (he also used the names GUY DESSLYN and WILLIAM FIELD). Boyce was organist, BBC producer and sometime Chairman of the Light Music Society. He also composed, quite prolifically, mainly for orchestra (many of his pieces were taken into the post 1945 recorded music libraries), though I have traced only a piano version of his "pastorale" In Olden Tymes. His best known orchestral piece was Elizabethan Masque; other titles included Inferno, Farnham Town, Bear in a Buggy, Finger of Fear, Lady Beautiful, the concert march Royal Windsor and the concert waltz Green Chartreuse.

STANLEY BLACK, O.B.E. born in 1913 and at the time of writing still alive, is arguably better remembered as a conductor (primarily of the BBC Dance Orchestra between 1944 and 1953 and later of other ensembles, even recording classical pieces for the Decca label), but he was a prolific arranger and a composer partly, but by no means always, in an out-and-out jazzy style. He composed scores for some 200 films including Wonderful Life, Hindle Wakes and Summer Holiday, for piano (e.g. Busy Boy, In a Gracious Mood, Puppet on a String) and for orchestra, notably the 1935 Overture to a Costume Comedy, Fanfare For a Film Performance, Swinging Chimp and Golden Mile. Black also used the pseudonym COLIN DEAN.

ALBERT CAZABON (1883-1970) was a violinist who directed his own ensemble on radio and doubtless elsewhere and a composer whose genre pieces were popular, especially just after the Second War and of which we can instance the Three Ballet Sketches, the entr'actes On the Moonlight Terrace, Autumn Nocturne and Spring Morning, the rondos The Jester and Scherzando, a Preludio Romantico and Fjell Melody, Norwegian Souvenir.

Roughly contemporary with all these was TOLCHARD EVANS (1901-78), whose real name was SYDNEY EVANS and who was primarily a pianist, originally in silent cinemas. He wrote some orchestral miniatures (the waltz, Somewhere Down in Brittany achieved some popularity) but was best known for his songs, over a thousand of them, the most celebrated being Dreamy Devon, Valencia and., most famously, Lady of Spain.

PAUL FENOULHET's career reached its apogee in the great days of broadcast light music after 1945. He conducted the Skyrockets in the 1940s and several of the BBC's lighter orchestras during the fifties and sixties. As one would expect with such a background he produced countless arrangements; his original works included novelty pieces, such as Happidrome, Awakening Memories, Top Gear and The Grand Corniche, and perhaps most notably, the topographical suite Suffolk Sketches, whose movements include one portraying Flatford Mill, of Constable fame.

Still another contemporary was IAN GOWLEY, a prolific arranger, especially of Scottish tunes, for BBC light orchestras, and composer of such pieces as the Travelling Salesman and the Song of the Clyde for orchestra and the stage musicals The Bonnie Rogue (1961) and Oh! Glorious Jubilee (1970).

Our ballad composer representative this time is the Irishman PERCY FRENCH (1854-1920), whose many Irish ballads included the very popular ones The Mountains of Mournei and Phil the Fluter's Ball.

From the world of the light musical theatre we may mention PHILIP MICHAEL FARADAY, who managed English operetta companies in the years immediately prior to the Great War, but he did find time to compose - most successfully the comic opera Amasis in 1906; his other titles included the musical comedies A Welsh Sunset (1908) and The Islander (1910).

PAUL HARVEY was born in 1936, in Sheffield and in fact was a contemporary of the writer at that city's King Edward VII Grammar School. Even then he was a fine clarinettist. Since those days he has produced a large number of arrangements and compositions for clarinet(s) or saxophone(s), mostly on lighter vein and often suitable for students to play.

REX BURROWS was an early encourager of the composer ALAN RIDOUT (1934-96) but was a good composer in his own right if in a lighter style than Ridout, ballads such as A Faithful Heart, My Heart is Yours, There is No End and so on and a piano suite Hampton Court.

We conclude this fiftieth selection (fifty I can scarcely believe it, but I dare say there is material for more) with DOUGLAS GAMLEY, who died in 1998, having been born in Melbourne (Australia) in 1924, conductor, pianist and purveyor of (often lush-sounding) orchestral arrangements of music by other hands, not to mention a version of The Beggar's Opera which was published and recorded. Gamby's original compositions included the Souvenir de Granada for orchestra and scores for a considerable number of films of which we may give as an example that for Admirable Crichton.
© Philip L. Scowcroft

 

 

 

Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount

DONCASTER

S YORKS DN2 5PJ

Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.

E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at rob.barnett1@btinternet.com


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