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