Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
A 99th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Gerald Crossman, born in 1920 and who studied at Trinity College London, played piano and accordion and was an inveterate broadcaster, particularly on "Music While You Work" and other programmes and also played on cruise liners. He composed, too, mainly single movements like March Espagnol, Fortitude (also a march), Michelle, El Pico, Gavottina, The Happy Bachelor, All Hands For'ard, Typical Teenager, A Night in Montmartre, Boulevards de Paris, The Albany Waltz, La Vida Latina, Nochecita and Out of the Wood. His suite Holiday Cruise was for organ or accordion - did he play it on his cruise liners? - and he wrote film music, for example for the adaptation of A E W Mason's detective tale The House of Arrow.
Ron Goodwin, born in 1929 and a dance band leader in his early career, is one of the giants of present-day light music. He is probably best known (and most highly regarded) for his film scores or at least for excerpts from them: Valhalla, I'm All Right Jack, Whirlpool, The Day of the Triffids, the Agatha Christie adaptations Murder She Said and The Alphabet Murders, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, which yielded a popular concert march, and the Second World War spectaculars 633 Squadron (another popular conecrt march came from this), The Battle of Britain (which brought several popular concert numbers), Where Eagles Dare and Force Ten From Navarone. For The Battle of Britain his music replaced William Walton's - an accolade indeed, though Goodwin was mildly embarrassed by it all. Apart from film derived music, his popular concert numbers have included such pieces as City Serenade, Skiffling Strings, Venus Waltz, Minuet in Blue, Puppet Serenade, The Headless Horseman, Jet Journey, Girl With a Dream, Arabian Celebration (commissioned by the BBC) and Prisoners of War March. He has in addition produced examples of the light concert suite: Drake 400, Armada 400 and New Zealand Suite, which includes an evocative picture of a paddle steamer.
Now for two conductor-composers called Darewski but not, I believe, related. Herman Darewski, (1883-1947) was born in Russia but came to England to conduct at Bridlington and in various London theatres and to compose musicals and reviews (As You Were, Carminetta, London Paris and New York, Joy-Land, Better 'Ole, Oh Julie! [with H Sullivan Brooke], Flora and Rosy Rapture (1915), with Jerome Kern no less), "separate" songs (for example Mary From Tipperary, The Big Brass Band, and The Road To Romance) and instrumental pieces, the most popular being the Coon's Wedding March. Max Darewski (1894-1929) was born in Manchester and, like his namesake, conducted and composed for the theatre, musicals like Tonight's The Night (with Alfred Rubens), His Girl (with Ernest Longstaff, 1922) and Hearts and Diamonds, and the revue Hanky Panky.
Guy d'Hardelet (1858-1936) was born in Dieppe (France), her real name being Helen Guy. However she settled in England after her marriage and composed a considerable number of popular ballads. Best known was Because, described as "new" when it was sung in concert in Doncaster in 1903 and taken up by Caruso and many popular tenors. Other ballads included I know a Lovely Garden, A Summer Song, I Think, Beloved, I Shall Wait and Green Bonnets.
Another continental-born figure was David de Groot (1880-1933), usually known simply as "De Groot". Dutch by birth, he was for much of his life a naturalised British subject. He directed the Piccadilly Hotel Orchestra between 1909 and 1928 and at times larger orchestras, often from the leader's chair. He sometimes felt the urge to compose and tunes like Valse Passionn¾ e and the lilting Piccadilly Grill Waltz became popular.
Finally a word for the Scarborough-born organist, Eric Fenby (1906-1997), best remembered for his work for Frederick Delius, first as a musical amanuensis, then as scholar and conductor. It is sometimes forgotten that he was himself a composer: snippets of church music, a very brief score for the film Jamaica Inn (1939) and two pieces written for the Scarborough Spa Orchestra, a Coronation March (1937) Lion-Limb (probably lost) and the brilliant concert overture, Rossini on Ilkla Moor (1938) which uses Rossini-like scoring, dynamics and general ebulliance and a tune which came originally from Kent (as a hymn tune!) but is forever now associated with Fenby's native county. It has recently been recorded, an accolade long overdue.
Philip L Scowcroft
Enquiries to Philip at
8 Rowan Mount
S YORKS DN2 5PJ
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
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