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We begin once again with another group of lesser-known composers for the British light musical stage, all of them this time from the 1930s. Most of them are again "singletons".

Gilbert Gunn was a theatre conductor but the only show he apparently composed for was the farce All for Joy, which managed a modest 23 performances at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1932. Harry Archers only show, so far as composition went (though he provided the lyrics for at least one other musical), was Lucky Break, a fair success at the Strand Theatre in 1934, with 198 outings. Leo T Croke, which sounds like a pseudonym but is not (Croke used "Lionel Claff" as a nom de plume), had his one musical Hearts are Trumps toured provincially in 1935. Eddie Samuels was a Sydney chemist who brought his show The Highwayman from Australia to England where, re-titled At the Silver Swan, it ran for 51 performances at the Palace Theatre in 1936. Its conductor Percival Mackey, a musical director in the West End from the late 1920s, contributed a few songs to it and his orchestral suite A Day in May enjoyed some popularity. Paul Sharon was very much in the shadow of Jack Waller and Joseph Tunbridge, two of the giants of the inter-war British musical stage. His one stage show was Oh! You Letty (Palace Theatre, 1937:71 performances) for which Waller was the manager and Tunbridge its musical director. Neither, seemingly, contributed any music to it, perhaps surprisingly.

Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994) is renowned for her extensive chamber music portfolio and other "classical" music, but she also produced a considerable quantity of lighter work: many instructional pieces for children, including the Children’s Pieces for piano, dating from 1952; also for piano solo we can include here the suite, A Country Town, published in 1945 and the descriptive movement Mill Race. The Three Bagatelles for oboe and piano were taken up by several oboists of the day and An Essex Overture for full orchestra appeared in 1967.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2001

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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