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In this Garland we concentrate for a change on orchestral compositions. One or two of the composers here are quite definitely purveyors of classical music but Cyril B Rootham (1875-1938), known for his choral works, also produced a Miniature Suite for strings and piano, and Nicholas Gatty (1874-1946), a friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams and primarily an operatic composer, brought out the mock-antique Haslemere Suite for strings. Percival Garratt, a Professor at the Guildhall School, wrote Three Dance Miniatures and two lighter stage works.

One or two composers active on either side of the Second World War deserve a mention if only for one work: for example H E Gibson-Butler, for his suite My Ladyís Moods (the "moods" are Plaisanterie, Badinage, Pensée díAmour, Coquetterie and Envie de Danser); or Wallace G Harding for his suite In Days of Romance. Richard Hirst produced in the 1950s an Interlude in Waltz Time, the entríacte Sea Green and a march Turkish Delight. Two "library music" stalwarts were Alfred Merlin, with titles like Hustling the Post, Piccadilly Polka and Quand Même, and Michael Stanton, with Sale Time (1955). And Herbert Horace Lumby, born in 1906, is worthy of notice for his miniatures for string orchestra: Carol For the Nativity, the idyll, The Shepherd of Llwyn, Spring Pastoral and The Lovely Rosalind.

Gilbert Stacey, active from the end of the Great War into the 1950s, composed a miniature for strings Bellissima, but he was more of a ballad composer of, for example, When Evening Shadows Fall (1918), Down in the Gardens at Kew, Up the Gunners, Though Itís only a Dream and Sweet Lass of London Town. He also produced many arrangements.

Finally for the multi-talented figures whose talents extended to composition. Hubert Gregg, born in 1914, actor and lyricist, is credited with the composition of the songs Maybe Itís Because Iím a Londoner and Iím Gonna Get Lit Up (from the show Strike Up a New Note) and songs for the musical The Love Racket. His acting engagements included singing roles, though his singing voice was not outstanding. Vic Oliver (1898-1964), Austrian-born but long domiciled in the U.K., actor in films, revues and straight plays, was also a concert pianist and conducted the British Concert Orchestra and was responsible for sundry arrangements and the orchestral miniature Prelude to the Stars.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2001

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

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