Classical MusicWeb

Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


We begin with a brief glance at two accessible, basically classical composers who have both produced much that we can reckon as "light". Hans Gal (1890- 1987), Austrian-born but British-domiciled from the 1930s onwards, published a Pickwickian Overture, Idyllikon, four pieces for small orchestra, Three Marionettes for piano duet and a Divertimento for recorder group. As for Alan Ridout (1934-96), his lighter effusions include: for piano solo, Dance Bagatelles and Fun and Games, a group of pieces for juniors, a Suite and a Romance for oboe and piano, Pigs: A Present for Gordon Jacob, for four bassoons, Caliban and Ariel for unaccompanied bassoon ( I have also heard this played successfully on double bass),and, for flute, Tarka and the Three Nocturnes. And many of the movements of his many concertinos can surely be reckoned as light music if one adopts, as I do, a "broad church" attitude to the subject.

Our film composer this time is Alastair Farrant, associated with documentary films and videos. Our drawing-room ballad composer, fairly late in the genre chronologically, as his It's Springtime, Mavournean is dated 1941, is Frederick O'Connor; other titles by him included Quietude and, much the most popular and most arranged, the Old House. Our theatre composer is Henry Sullivan, born in 1893, whose musicals included Bow Bells (its hit song was "Mona Lisa"), Over the Page and the 'Ccoronation revue", presumably dated 1937, Home and Beauty, jointly composed with Nicholas Brodzky, from which the songs "A Nice Cup of Tea" and "Storm in My Heart" were separately published. Sullivan songs were also contributed to the films The Return of Raffles and Perfect Understanding.

Joe Crossman, a saxophonist, was a cousin of Gerald Crossman, born in 1920, accordion player and composer, who has previously received the "Garland treatment", and also of drummer Jock Jacobson; Joe's compositions included Valse Elegance for saxophone and piano, actually a co-operative effort with Jack Shirley. Finally, a mention for Dennis Gomm, who was in demand around mid-century at the BBC and doubtless elsewhere, as an arranger and composer of orchestral novelty miniatures, such as Pygmies' Patrol, Pizzicato Parade (1950), String Caprice (1951) and Chit Chat.

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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