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We begin this time with Colin Brumby, born in 1933, who is really Australian but who did have two teaching positions in England in the early 1960s before returning to teach and compose in his native country. His output is a substantial one and mainly "serious" but it includes quite a lot of lighter pieces of which we may exemplify the orchestral Paean, South Bank Overture and the Festival Overture and Australian Themes and, published for solo, the Sicilian Dance: Rondo.

Another composer with Australian connections is Edgar Bainton, born in England in 1880 and who emigrated to Australia in 1933 and died there in 1956. A Royal College of Music student and later Principal of the Newcastle Conservatoire, his output is again mostly "serious" but on the light side we may point to his children’s operetta, Walookie the Bear (1912), the Three Pieces (Pavane, Idyll and Bacchanal) for solo violin, drums and string orchestra, the Three Pieces for orchestra (which are different and partly based on theatre incidental music), a Miniature Suite (1924) for piano duet and the two suites for piano solo By Wave and Shore (1920) and Wild Flowers (1922: Wild Thyme, Meadowsweet, Wheatspear, Daffodil, Witch Hazel). Some of Bainton’s songs may be reckoned as ballads.

Two women composers, now, who specialised in light, tuneful music for young amateurs. Olive Turner, who was active between the 1930s and 1960s, bought out the song sequences Bird Notes and Three Springling Songs, the piano collection Jingles From Jungleland and the two pieces for two pianos, Cap and Bells and Two Cornish Sketches: And the Scotswoman Shena Fraser, active between the 1950s and 1980s, also wrote vocal and instrumental pieces, the latter including Five Pairs (1959) for violin and piano, Hornpipe and Jig (1954), for two pieces and a version of The Drunken Sailor (1983) for piano duet, four hands, one piano.

And finally for two military musicians. Bob Wiffin, RAF Director of Music and still with us (2001), has composed Crimble Dance and many marches. Going much further back John William Cole (1867-1946), born in Dublin, became an Army Bandmaster, first with a military band, then with the 2nd Royal Sussex (1903-14) and finally at the Duke of York’s Military School, Dover (1914-32). Cole’s compositions included the marches With Martial Step, Banditti d’España, Light Tanks to the Front, Enseñada, The Spirit of Youth, Pixie’s Patrol and Egremont, the overtures Hans Sachs and The Dover Patrol, the Sérénade Espagnole: While Biscay Sleeps, the "reverie" Soir d’Automne, The Clockwork Doll, Cretan Dance, Bambino Mio, the piccolo solo The Thrush and the xylophone solos, Bisley, Sea Spray, La Phuie and Happy Days.

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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