The proliferation of wind ensembles in our own day has
produced a substantial amount of basically light music specially written
for them by contemporary composers. We have previously mentioned a few
of them. GORDON LEWIN, IAN HAROLD, NORMAN HALLAM, JOHN CAMERON, MARTIN
ELLERBY - and many more. One other name to add to these is CHARLES STAINER
(no relation, as far as I am aware, to the composer of The Crucifixion),
whose works for wind quintet include a Scherzo and other pieces,
still another is KEITH AMOS, composer of orchestral, chamber and choral
music and - on the lighter side - composer for brass band and for wind
ensemble, in which latter genre Animal Friends enjoys popularity.
The light music composers
of the inter-war years are in many cases completely
forgotten. There are of course the Eric Coateses,
Haydn Woods and Montague Phillipses, which
- the first especially - have survived better
than most. In the case of others their memory
is kept alive by just one work. An example
is ALBERT E. MATT, his work the march Fame
and Glory. This is invariably played on
Armistice Sunday as the first march accompanying
the march past of veterans past the Cenotaph.
Unfortunately unless one is luckily enough
to be actually present one hears just a few
bars the BBC coverage "cuts" to see how the
Armistice is being remembered in place like
Singapore or the Falkland Islands or wherever.
Fame and Glory is a raising piece and
its use in the Remembrance ceremony seems
to add a kind of moving distinction to it.
For me it is as Matt's Opus 21, one of the
finest of all British marches.
However it is not by any
means Matt's only composition. His "floreat"
period appears to have been primarily the
two decades between the wars and the list
of orchestral compositions I append hereto
seems very much of the period. There were
the suites An Evening Ramble and Norwegian
Scenes and a number of single genre movements.
Two of these, a reverie, Angelus and
the "capriccietto, Carnival, were grouped
with the title Two Pieces as his Opus
17. Others include the entr'acte Coquetterie,
an intermezzo, Farewell and Devotion
Rustique. But their "fame and glory" appear
to have faded now.
Brass band composers are legion; one present day practitioner
is D. LANCASTER, whose piece, Bridge on the River Wharfe has
been recorded by the Wetherby & District Silver Band.
GUY DAGUL's parents are the piano duettists Harvey
Dagul and Isabel Beyer, who have made many recordings though four of
them have been of music by British composers. Guy however produced a
number of compositions including an attractive score written for the
latest series of Delia Smith's cookery presentation on TV.
CARL KIEFORT, by his name, was German by birth, but
he settled in England in the 1880s and for upwards of a quarter of a
century he made a busy career for himself as a conductor on the London
light musical stage up to around the time of the Great War. He composed,
too, A Village Venus (1895), A Merry Mad Cap (1896), The
Gay Grisette (1898), Hidenseek (1901), Zuiyder Zee (1907)
and, most notably, for The Ballet Girl (1897). Usually his compositional
contributions were jointly with other writers but The Gay Grisette
and The Ballet Girl were entirely his. He was always regarded
as a conductor, most notably of operettas by Osmond Carr, Sidney Jones,
Leslie Stuart and Lionel Monckton; his skill as an orchestrator was
much in demand.
© Philip L. Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.