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We begin with a few more virtually forgotten composers from the British light music stage in the late 20th Century, most of them known (or forgotten!) for just one work. There was David Nield, whose Tin Pan Ali (1979), a translation of the Ali Baba legend to American gangsterland, was intended for schoolchildren. Kathleen Johnson's Gavin and the Monster (1981) was similarly aimed at younger people. David Adams was lyricist and composer; his Wren (1978, the Wren being Sir Christopher, of course) achieved 34 West End performances. Milton Reane-James, composer and conductor, wrote the music for Venus and Superkid (1975) and Oor Wullie (1978). Nola York similarly both conducted and composed; her stage shows were Lady or the Tiger, People (1979, reissued the following year under the title Love Music) and Wild, Wild Women (1981).

Vincent Thomas was a Welshman, active from at least the 1910s to the 1940s. Much of his output was "serious", including two operas A Romance of Spain (1924), described as a "concert" opera, and the "picaresque", A Tale of Alsatia (1925), a cantata The Fifth Poem and many songs including two books of Cryes of Old London (1925/31), the song cycles Dream Island and The Valley of Dreams (1912) and the "separates" Two Widows (1914) and Penitence (1933). But he conducted for the London musical stage and his orchestral works included several on the lighter side: Two Entr'actes, the Two Pieces of 1937 (Lady Margaret's Minuet and Lady Mary's Gigue) and the suite, Tales By Moonlight, whose movements are Told on the Promenade, Told at the Garden Gate and Told at the Carnival). One suspects that Thomas's work may be worth another look.

Finally to a composer whose attractive work for young performers entitles him to a mention here. Paul Harris, who lives in Buckinghamshire, has produced considerably in that direction, notably the five short Visions for clarinet and piano; I heard the lovely fifth one recently and much enjoyed it. Other pieces by him include Seven Easy Dances (sax/piano), Holiday Notes (trumpet/piano), Suite in 5 (clarinet and piano) and Clowns, seven pieces for flute and piano.

Philip L Scowcroft

November 2000


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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