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We start with the prolific Freda Swain, born in Portsmouth in 1902, educated at the Royal College of Music, where she studied with Stanford, later Professor at the Royal Academy and composer of operas, concertos, church music, chamber music, etc., also produced many tuneful miniatures, vocal, whether for solo voice or chorus, including a Song For Scouts and Guides, and instrumental, among which are many exemplify the clarinet and piano pieces The Willow Tree (1948), Laburnum Tree, The Waving Grass (1960) and Two Contrasts (1953: Heather Hill, Derry Down), English Reel for violin (viola) and piano and Three Pieces (Autumn Landscape, Wayward Waltz and Marionette on Holiday) for piano solo. She was herself a fine pianist who toured widely.

Further instrumental miniatures came around mid-century from Philip Browne, responsible for A Truro Maggot, for clarinet and piano and for many arrangements, and from Geoffrey Robbins, whose publications included Bagatelle and Pastorale for flute, oboe and piano, Danse for flute and piano and Regatas for oboe and piano (both 1954) and a Sonatina for flute (or oboe) and piano of 1953.

Annette Mills will be associated in the memories of many as the human partner of Muffin the Mule in televisionís post-1945 years. She was very musical and composed many light songs, publishing indeed a Muffin Song Book of eight songs. Other titles included A Feather in Her Tyrolean Hat, in foxtrot rhythm (an orchestral version was in fact made), Rolling Along the Rocketty Road, from the Savoy Follies revue, Sweet Earth of Cornwall and, jointly with one B Scott, I Wonder if You Miss Me Sometimes.

Jimmy (James Angus) Miller (1916-2001), pianist and vocalist, who died recently, is most notably associated with the RAF dance band The Squadronaires during the last war and for a few years thereafter. He presumably had an input to numbers like Thereís Something in the Air, Tangerine and South Rampart Street. Born near Aberdeen, he and his brother recorded in 1933 Scots Airs for Parlophone and Jimmy was credited with at least some of the arrangements. Later he was associated with Jack Hylton and Ambrose and, in post-Squadronaires days with Carroll Gibbons at the Savoy Hotel and with other bands elsewhere.

Lastly for two composers surnamed Cook but unrelated so far as I am aware. Peter Cook, active around mid-century, produced some light descriptive music for orchestra (Man of Kent, Surrey Concerto and Country Calendar) and for brass band (London in the Thirties). And there was Kenneth Cook, who had an apparently brief floreat period in the first half of the 1960s as musical editor and composer for brass instruments. Apart from purely instrumental material, the Three Impromptus for brass quintet and an Impromptu (probably an arrangement of one of the three, as it came out in the same year) for B Flat trumpet or cornet with piano accompaniment.

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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