A 147th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
We begin with Alan Bush, born in 1900 who died as recently as 1995 and who was, of course, basically a "classical" composer of, for example, symphonies (No. 2, titled the Nottingham, is inspired by Robin Hood) and of operas. Furthermore, he experimented with a form of twelve note "idiom". But – and perhaps partly because of his political beliefs – he usually sought to make his music accessible and we may point to various parts of his oeuvre which we may plausibly reckon among the light music genre: not perhaps the English Suite which is "serious" as suites go but, for example, the orchestral overtures Resolution (1945), A Birthday Overture (1942), the Concert Overture for an Occasion and, from 1972, the Liverpool Overture; or the Pavane for the Castleton Queen and, written in 1973, Festival March of British Youth, both for brass band; or the Song Melody and Dance Melody, for viola and piano and, for piano solo, Mr Playford’s Tunes and, from 1950, Times of Day: A Little Suite for Piano.
The keyboard player, George Malcolm, born in 1917, educated at Balliol College, Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music, who excelled on piano, harpsichord and organ, also conducted and composed. One of his pieces was a set of Variations on a Theme of Mozart for four harpsichords, written, I believe, as a "fill-up" for a 1950s LP including concertos for three and four harpsichords by J S Bach. But he really earns a mention here for his Bach before the Mast, a keyboard miniature based on the Sailor’s Hornpipe, Jack’s the Lad, which has also been recorded.
We will wind up this Garland with another group of composers of British Musicals from the decade 1961-1970, virtually all of them "singletons". Two composers called Davies had musicals produced in 1970 but their works were very different. Julian Davies, who was also a conductor, composed the score for The Braddocks’ Time, produced in Liverpool; Ceredig Davies wrote the songs for the suggestively titled Lie Down, I Think I Love You, intended perhaps as a British Hair, but it failed miserably, albeit in the West End, achieving a mere 13 performances. James Stevens, also a conductor, wrote two musicals, neither of which made the West End: Manzelle Nitouche (1961 Nottingham Playhouse) and The Pied Piper (1962 Stratford East). Charles Ferguson’s State of Emergency, which had additional music by James Hepburn, was put on at Ayr in 1960 and in Croydon during 1962; Ronald Settle’s I Remember, I Remember was staged at Liverpool Playhouse in 1960. Norman Bennett was an actor in the Birmingham Repertory Company when his Mr Universe was staged there in 1961. Finally the Bronte sisters’ musical associations were notable and have, I believe, been written up (if they have not been, they ought to be). A musical version of Jane Eyre was produced at Windsor in 1961 and revived there in 1973; its composer was Monty Stevens.
Philip L Scowcroft
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