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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett
A SIXTY-FIRST GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

We start with a Victorian ballad composer, not a well-known one but one perhaps representative of those local musicians who beavered away in the hope of just the one success: GEORGE ELLIOTT KENT of Hill House, Askern, near Doncaster, who published in 1887 Victoria Queen of Many Lands in honour of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. This was by no means his only song to achieve success; a number of the others had their accompaniments scored by Charles Godfrey (II).

Two more Victorian dance composers, now, or at least their surnames: one CRAVEN, composer of the polka, Our Totties and one REYNOLDS, whose Triplet Polka dated from the late 1880s.

Come more up to date we may mention the name of ISY GEIGER (1886-1977), who was born in Russia, trained in Berlin, then worked in Vienna before coming to England in 1938 where he worked for the BBC a good deal up to the 1960s, producing many orchestral medleys and arrangements and a number of original compositions including the violin polka, Fiddle Frolic, a Polish march, Vivat Polonia and the Romanian Gipsy Dance.

A few other mainly orchestral standards of the first half of the 20th Century may be mentioned here: the waltzes, The Old Belfry and The Choristers by BERNARD PHELPS; the sparkling Underneath the Stars, which dates from around the time of the Great War, by HERBERT SPENCER; the entr'acte in gavotte temp, Glasgow Belles, by ALFRED CARPENTER; and the "characteristic step" the Cracksman's Crawl by FRANK MARDEN. ERNEST REEVES, active from the 1930s to the 1960s, produced many arrangements and medleys and a number of original genre movements, among which we may exemplify Jollification, the intermezzo The Tennessee Toddle and, described as a "tune for television", The Mummer Masquerade. VALENTINE HEMERY, although his "song without words "Sympathy did receive quite a number of performances, was primarily a ballad composer, producing titles like Who's That a-Calling, Down in the Wood, Golden Thoughts, Great Lord of Life, The Little Blue Sun Bonnet and (a duet) Soldiers of Fortune.

Of the latter day composers for TV, perhaps the latest to make his mark is BEN BARTLETT, for his attractive - surprisingly attractive, some might think - for the BBC1 feature, A Walk With the Dinosaurs.

© Philip L Scowcroft

October 1999

With reference to the 61st.garland... I hope you don't mind me correcting you on one point. Isy Geiger was not born in Russia, as stated - he was born in Poland. After working in Vienna for some years he became an Austrian citizen. In the late thirties he was forced to flee Austria to Poland and subsequently to Britain, where he resided until his death in 1977.
Sincerely,

Brian Reynolds

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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