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We start with two song composers who were both active around the mid-point of the 20th Century: Harold Charles Lake’s Three Short Lyrics, for solo voice and respectively entitled Jeanette, When Phyllis Played at Archery and Down in Lynmouth Bay and, for male voice choir, A Blessed Summer Night and A Devon Lane may be reckoned as light, ballad-like compositions.

The output of John Raynor (1909-70) included lightish songs like The Loyal Lover, My Own Country, The Old Lullaby and Five Sunny Story Songs.

Peter Crossley-Holland (1916-2001), composed songs too. His accessible output also included music for several radio productions and music for recorder(s) – A Little Suite for solo recorder and piano, Albion Suite for three recorders and keyboard, Breton Tunes, etc.

We go back now to Victorian times for a mention of the tormented figure of Arthur Goring Thomas (1850-92), who committed suicide following a nervous breakdown. A one time Sullivan pupil, he is remembered primarily for his "grand" operas (especially Esmeralda, from which the aria "O Vision Entrancing" long remained popular, and Nadezhda). Rather lighter was The Golden Web, completed after his death by Sidney Peine Waddington and which had a brief run at the Lyric. Several of Thomas’s songs (e.g. The Blacksmith, The Willow and, especially popular, A Summer Night) count as ballads and his orchestral Rêve d'Amour was colourful enough. Waddington himself (1869-1953), educated at the Royal College of Music, included among his output a children’s operetta Whimland and light choral numbers like Lilian (SATB, 1901) and My Shadow (two part, 1904).

Richard Walthew (1872-1951) is remembered primarily for chamber music, but several of his songs – perhaps not the Five Songs From Thackeray, but others like Eldorado, May-Day, A Windy Day and Gleaner’s Slumber Song are ballads or virtually so, and he was responsible also for the operettas The Enchanted Isle and The Gardeners.

Finally we have the ballad composer Margaret Woolmer, active between the wars who published titles like For Remembrance, Full Moon, My Love is a Silent Forest, A Thought and Your Looking Glass.

Philip L Scowcroft

June 2001

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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