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We begin with another sheaf of immediately post-Great War composers active on the British musical stage, though by no means all of them confined themselves to that milieu. Some were will o’ the wisps, writing one show and disappearing: people like Tom Madden, whose musical The Gay Clerkette was produced in Dublin in 1919 and Norman Hayes, whose Fifinella made the West End in 1919-20, and a piano selection from it was published – a decade earlier his Katawanpas, presumably another stage work, had been published. Georges Dorlay was active either side of 1920 with Make Believe, a children’s revue/pantomime, with words by A.A. Milne, whose score was published in 1925, though it was staged at the Lyric, Hammersmith, several years before, and Oh Don’t Dolly (1919), which had a short run at the Criterion. Bernard Rolt was for a long time one who contributed to musicals or operettas by others, most notably for The Girl For the Boy (1919); his one show "on his own", Sylvia’s Lovers (also 1919) was reasonably successful, with 98 performances at the Ambassadors and Duke of York theatres and then publication in 1920. Rolt’s songs were reasonably popular, too, titles including Amethyst, Rose and Pearl, River Thames, The Moon Upon the Chimney and, especially celebrated, The Rose of the Riviera.

Henry E Pether was a prolific arranger of show selections and of folk and traditional tunes and an inveterate contributor to stage shows, mostly revues, plus the musical Sailor Lad (1919) which did not make the West End. Many of his individual song titles were used in the theatre. Song titles included Rainbow (from The Catch of the Season), Awake!, The Caretaker, Chirrup, Chirrup, The Harbour of Slumber Time, Cupid, Is Life Worth Living?, The Rose of My Heart, Jolly old Barnes, The Seaside Posters Round the House, Waiting at the Church and even a four song cycle, Gretna Green.

Lastly we come to a military march composer, though his works also include children’s operettas and other light music. Robert Cahill (1878-1950), born in Kingston-on-Thames, served in army bands between 1893 and 1924, for the last fourteen years as Bandmaster of 2nd South Lancashire Regiment. Latterly he pursued a career in Aberdeen theatres. His marches included one for the Coronation, Rex (1937) and The Golden Stripe; only the last received publication.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2001

Enquiries to Philip at

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Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.

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