Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
AN EIGHTY-SIXTH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Two modern day (well, they were flourishing in the 1970s when I saw them both) brass band figures to begin with. H. ARTHUR KENNEY'S career was originally in military music; he graduated from the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, and was Bandmaster, or Musical Director, of several regimental bands including, finally, that of the Welsh Guards. In 1970 he moved to the brass band scene when he became Musical Director of the Cory Band in Wales. A prolific arranger, he composed relatively little but his march St. Julian is rousing enough and also recorded was a Concerto for tenor horn and band. DENNIS MASTERS a brass band conductor, notably of Ransome, Hoffman and Pollard Band in Newark and a respected adjudicator, composed even less; but his march Wendine was recorded.
Composers who were encouraged by Dan Godfrey II at Bournemouth were legion. Many we have already mentioned in these Garlands. In particular he gave many women composers the opportunity to hear their works. We mention two here: ELIZABETH FRANCES CRAIGIE ROSS (1864-1947), a concert pianist, had three marches performed by the BMO: Homage March, Heroes of the Empire and Marche Heroique. JANET SALSBURY, born in 1881, was Music Mistress at Cheltenham Ladies College between 1899 (so she aspired to that position on leaving school) and 1926. Her overture Mirth, premiered at Bournemouth in 1910, sounds like an early example of the British light, amusing concert overture.
While we are still at Bournemouth, what about the orchestra's own composers? Many orchestras, particularly during the first half of the 20th Century, included in their ranks players who fancied themselves as composers. Eric Coates began his career as an orchestral composer while he was a member of Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra. On a rather lower plane we have in these Garlands identified one or two figures from provincial theatre and cinema orchestras. And the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra seems to have had more than most - or perhaps it was that they were given greater opportunity. Most notably was MONTAGUE BIRCH (1884-1947), born in Leamington and with experience in the Colwyn Bay Orchestra before coming to Bournemouth as a second violin. Later he played piano and Celeste and acted as deputy conductor; in the dark days of the Second War he was acting conductor of a reduced BMO. His compositions included a march, The Carabineers for Bournemouth Home Guard Band, and several lightish pieces for the BMO itself, of which Dance of the Nymphs was recorded in 1933, Intermezzo Pizzicato in 1935.
Violinist BYRON BROOKE, who joined in 1925 and leader during the Second War, was also quite prolific. Several of them were xylophone solos; Gee Whiz, Zip Zip and Slippery Sticks were all recorded. Other titles included a suite Riviera Scenes, Bouree and Variations and Merry Middies. JEAN GENNIN, Belgian by birth, joined the BMO as a flautist years before the Great War and stayed for many years. His speciality (though not an exclusive one) was piccolo solos and duets - Rippling Streams(1927), Fluttering Birds (1928), Idylle Bretonne (1928), The Merry Brothers (1928), Echoes of the Valley (1928), Jolly Whistlers, Language of the Nightingale, Pizzicato Pierrette and Valse des Mascottes (all 1930) were all recorded in the years stated. Percussionist "BILLY" BYRNE, an "original" player from 1893 who died in 1937, contributed Whispering Pines and Rosewood Ripples; THEO DE LA RIVIERE, principal viola player from around 1913, composed the pizzicato number Raindrops and the serenade, Crocus Time; both were again recorded. GEORGE MORRIS, bassoonist, and CECIL WHITE, violinist also piano accompanist regularly contributed, the latter having his A Sierra Melody, a duet for cello and trumpet, A Fairy Ballet and Oriental Dance committed to disc between 1931 and 1933. Truly the BMO, if not quite the "army of generals", to recall Dr. Burney's famous phrase about the Mannheim orchestra of the 1700s, was perhaps an army of colonels.
Philip L. Scowcroft
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