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Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Several of the composers in this Garland were, or are, at least as well known as conductors. For example, H C Burgess, active between the wars and for some time afterwards, conducted at Weston-super-Mare between 1920 and 1938 and then moved to direct the BBC Midlands (Light) Orchestra. He composed several light, or lightish, orchestral items, best known of which was the march To the Clink of the Spur. Rather earlier in date, Herbert Bunning (1863-1937), educated at Harrow and Brasenose College Oxford, became musical director at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and the Prince of Wales Theatre, both in the 1890s. He is credited with an opera, Princess Osra (1902), a musical play on Robin Hood (1906), actually for the Lyric, and many, mainly light, compositions for orchestra, including the overtures Spring and Youth and Mistral, a Village Suite and Shepherd's Call, which had its first performance at the Henry Wood Proms.

More recently, Arthur Butterworth, M.B.E., Manchester-born in 1923 and educated at the Royal Manchester College, has played trumpet (in the Hall¾ Orchestra 1955-62), taught (at the Huddersfield School of Music, now University), conducted orchestras, mainly in the North of England, and composed. His output includes four symphonies, several concertos and much choral music (e.g. Trains in the Distance); much of it is light in character and often pictorial - Gigues, Legend, Italian Journey, a suite taking in Rome as a Toccata, Ravello (Notturno) and Rimini (Tarantella) and the ballet, Creation in the Night. These are all for orchestra; other pieces are stimulated by the North Country landscapes he knows so well and, apart from Lakeland Summer Night (for piano), are often for brass band - The Path Across the Moor, The Quiet Tarn, Three Impressions (based on aspects of Northumbrian industry) and A Dales Suite.

David Neil Butterworth, unrelated to Arthur so far as I know, and born in 1934, has excelled as composer, conductor, author and broadcaster. Educated at London University and the Guildhall School, he has composed prolifically, often in short, tuneful, indeed light, often pictorial forms, whether for chorus, brass (Mr Church's Toye and Festival Fanfare), wind (Scherzo and Lullaby), orchestra (Lochinvar, Seven Hills March, Dances for Dalkeith, Summer Muse and Kettlebury Hill for oboe and strings) and piano (Jaunty Saunter and Ewell Court Suite). He lives in the Scottish border country.

George Byng, born in Dublin around 1862, was yet another composer who made his mark as a musical director in London's theatres, particularly at the Alhambra, for which he composed some 30 ballets. He provided music for several other stage shows, among them Guy Fawkes, The Belle of the Baltic, The Variety Girl (1902) and The Duchess of Sillie Crankie (1904). Of his many ballad-type songs, Peter Dawson took up My Sword and I and Byng's orchestral suite A Day in Naples enjoyed some popularity. In addition, he may have been the "David George" who composed many light orchestral novelties.

Rex Burrows, active in the two decades after World War II, composed ballads like A Faithful Heart, My Heart is Yours and There is no End and published a suite for piano, Hampton Court. Alan Ridout (1934-96), when young, was grateful to him for encouraging him to compose.

And so finally to Geoffrey Burgon (1941-), most famous for his incidental music to the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, the title tune particularly. Other Burgon TV scores included Martin Chuzzlewit, Bleak House, Testament of Youth and, nearly as well known as Brideshead, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His large screen scores included Sirens. He has been responsible for much church music, but many of his orchestral pieces, some of which reflect his interest in jazz, regarded as light: Four Elizabethan Dances and Divertimenti (brass), Lullaby, Aubade and Toccata (for trumpet and piano) and the seven piano pieces entitled From the Insect World.

Philip L Scowcroft

Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount



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

E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at

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