Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
AN EIGHTIETH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Some eyebrows may rise at the name of FELIX GODWIN; he was however not French but English, his real name being Henry Albert Brown (c1864-1925), a popular dance-band leader before the Great War. His output, so far as my researches go, seems to comprise waltzes entirely: titles like Anticipation, Reconciliation, Shadows of Memory, Lovely Lucerne, Valse Lorraine, Voulez-Vous and several named after months, for examples Valse de'Avril, Valse de Mai, Valse Juillet and much the best known of the Godwin's waltzes, the Valse Septembre, a popular hit of 1909, and revived recently in the film Titanic.
The name of the ace guitarist and lutenist JULIAN BREAM, born in 1933, is perhaps a surprising one to find in this context, but he has published a great deal of music, admittedly mainly arrangements (most of compositions by others, but including some folksong arrangements for guitar), but there are also some original compositions - sundry teaching pieces and a Ballade-Phantasy for guitar solo and a score for the British Transport Film Unit documentary Red and White Coaches (1960: For Lute solo).
RICHARD ROY DOUGLAS, born in 1907, is best remembered, not so much in his own right but as an auxiliary to others; he played a part in Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto and he assisted Vaughan Williams in a general sense between 1942 and 1958, an experience he recounted in Working With R.V.W. (Oxford 1972). But he did compose music "in his own right" and it is good to see that his Cantileans (1964) for strings has been recently recorded. Douglas' other compositions include, besides many arrangements, not a few by R.V.W., an Elegy and Home Town, both for orchestra, a ceremonial march, Sovereign's Escort, published as late as 1978, Fantasie-Flourish and Flourish in C, The Man Who Bought Up Fairyland, for soprano solo, chorus and orchestra, and many incidental scores, most of them for BBC Radio productions: Victory in Burma, Don't Mr. Disraeli, A Bullet in the Ballet and London Theatre.
Another piece for strings which was recorded on the same CD as Douglas' Cantilena is the Irish Idyll, a beautiful setting of the folk tune The Lark in the Clear Air by PETER DODD, composer and arranger, whose other compositions included Two Rhythmic Interludes for Bassoon and piano, published in 1971.
Cinema organists were in their day - broadly speaking a decade or two either side of 1950 - popular purveyors of light music and many, if not all, of them composed it as well as arranged, often prolifically. One example is JOSEPH SEAL, a regular broadcaster, whose original works included the march like ABC Parade and the orchestral movement Lady Chatterbox of 1961.
As we have said many times, reports of the death of British light music has been prodigiously exaggerated. That it is now making a comeback is due to the devoted efforts of a host of enthusiasts, some of who even compose in the genre. One of them is BRIAN REYNOLDS, who has penned dozens of articles on the subject and broadcast on BBC Radio Kent and is the composer of miniatures like Souvenir de Montmartre. © Phil Scowcroft 2000
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