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We look first at two lady song composers, both of them born in 1866 and both unsurprisingly including in their respective outputs a substantial proportion of balladry among more serious effusions. The titles of Adela Maddison (1866-1929) included Lament of the Caged Lark, The Heart of the Wood, If You Would Have It So, Retrospect, and Tears. "Montague Ring" (1866-1956), whose real name was Amanda Ira Aldridge and who was, like the rather younger but much less long-lived Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), coloured, brought out A Noontide Song (1922) and Tis Morning among many other songs, in addition her output included light orchestral concert suites and genre pieces, though these appear to have been orchestrated by notable names on the light music scene. The suites Bagdad and Carnival were arranged by H.M. Higgs, the serenade Mirette by Ernest Reeves, the Four Moorish Pictures by Walford Hyden and Three Pictures From Syria by Henry Geehl. Ring shared her love of the exotic, it seems, with Ketèlbey and, to offer a female comparison Amy Woodforde-Finden.

We pass to two more woman composers: Vera James, worth a mention for her suite, published for piano in 1948, In Dancing Mood (Hornpipe, Polka-Waltz and Rondino); and Sybil Fountain, whose short piano pieces were suited to young performers – a suite, The Circus (8 movements), Lords and Ladies (9 movements), Minikins (ll) and Pigwidgeon (9).

Ivor Reginald Foster, who flourished in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, produced much light instrumental music: Beau Brummell for string orchestra, Evening Song for clarinet and piano, a Sonatina for oboe and piano and many movements for piano solo: Up and Away, Midsummer Memories, On The River, The Stately Pine Tree, An Autumn Tale (1949), A Summer Song (1959), Four Pastorals, The Spanish Dancer, A Bedtime Tune, Dainty Lady, Evening Contrasts, The Waterwheel, Lullaby, Gavotte, Toccatina, Scherzo and Siciliano.

Rather earlier than Foster was Herbert Fryer (1877-1957) who arranged for piano many old English melodies and composed several light miniatures: Preludes, Glide Caprice, Morris Dance and many more.

Finally a mention for Herbert Ivey and her Four Little Dances and – an orchestral suite – Glimpses of London (In the Park, A Day’s Shopping, Father Thames by Night, a Barcarolle, and London En Fête, a closing March).

Philip L Scowcroft

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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