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A SEVENTY-SIXTH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

We begin with PHILIP CHARIG, who was active between the wars and really American but who had produced a number of his musicals on the English stage. Two of them, Peg o'Mine (1927) and Stand Up and Sing (1930), whose action flits between a country house and a ship and which had 325 performances in the West End and over 600 altogether, counting the provinces, were joint efforts with Vivian Ellis. Two more, Lady May and That's a Good Girl, both 1928, were co-composed with Joseph Meyer. Charig's other titles were Just Fancy, Yes, Yes Yvette, Just a Kiss, Lucky Girl (1928) and Princess Charming, but not all these were first produced in England.

Moving forward a generation or so, we have LINDLEY EVANS, whose three pieces I have found all date from the early 1960s: the two-part Song of the Gum Tree (1962) and the piano solos Tally Ho (1961) and Holiday in Australia (1963). He is also credited with an Idyll, available in an orchestral version.

It is some while since we included a women composer in these Garlands so we are happy to mention the name of OLGA RUDD, active during the 1920s and composer of such miniatures as Yes or No: The New Hesitation Waltz, also songs (e.g. Mine Enemy).

From around the same period there is WALTER R. COLLINS, whose floreat was either side of 1939-45, sometime Musical Director at the De La War Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, was responsible for a large number of light orchestral genre pieces including Four Cornish Dances (the Floral Dance is the Last), Holiday Parade, The Persistent Serenader, Rat-a-Tat Polka, Strings in the Mood, Cumberland Green, the marches Devil May Care, Olympians and-a-patrol - Paper Hats and Wooden Swords, Laughing Marionette a dance burlesque, Valse Capriccieto and the delicious Dusk in a Summer Garden. He arranged widely, too, most notably Rudolf Sieczynski's Vienna City of My Dreams as a waltz.

Finally we return to the light musical stage around the turn of the 19th Century. IGNATIUS DE ORELLANA (1860-1931), initially known as a violinist, turned, around 1900, to conducting musical comedy in London theatres. He indeed composed for the theatre (though not, so far as I have discovered, musical comedies). His early String Trio in C Minor (1888) is available from Merton Music.

GEORGE SHELDON, who was active especially in the first decade of the 20th Century, was similarly a conductor of various musical comedies in London, premiering in particular some of those by Paul Rubens. He wrote several musicals of his own, but, curiously the two most high profile examples, The Houpla Girl and The Rose of the Riviera, which bankrupted him, have the music credited to others, though Sheldon may well have had a hand in some of the orchestrations. However his farcical one-acter Scrubbs' Baby, heard in 1904 in Doncaster and apparently specially written for the performers giving that concert (and doubtless others at the time) was, according to the report in the Doncaster Chronicle, "all his own work", as was the song The Progress of Love, aired on the same occasion.

I mentioned IRIS TAYLOR a couple of garlands ago. However all is not what is seems as 'Iris Taylor' was a pseudonym for - Fred Hartley! FRED HARTLEY (1905-80) was a prolific composer and (particularly) arranger, conductor and pianist and a regular broadcaster, becoming, in 1946, Head of BBC Light Music. Pseudonyms are at least as common in the field of light music as in any other human activity and this often makes difficult the task of the researcher. © Philip L Scowcroft

February 2000

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