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We start with (William) Debroy Somers (1890-1952), who was more of a compiler – and a prolific one, too – of medleys than a composer as such. He was born in Dublin and was trained at the Royal Irish Academy. He conducted various dance ensembles, including the Savoy Orpheans and then his own Orchestra, whose personnel included pianists Ronnoe Munro and Arthur Sandford and the violinist Jean Pougnet and which appeared in films in 1930s. Somers figured as musical director in many West End musical shows from the 1920s to 1951 and regularly broadcast for the BBC and Radio Luxemburg.

Talking of musical comedies during the period Somers was involved with them, one should at least mention the name of Nancy Logan who was responsible for the score of The Melody That Got Lost, produced at the Embassy Theatre at Christmas in 1936, though she did not, apparently, write anything else, so far as I have been able to discover.

Our ballad composer this time is E.J. Margetom, who was also not a big producer. The only titles I have so far found are A Song of Andalusia and, much his best known song, Tommy Lad!, a sentimental piece of 1907 – the BBC Catalogue lists two separate orchestrations of its accompaniment.

And so to the recently deceased Joseph Cooper (1912-2001), known as concert pianist and recording artiste, but even more so as the host of BBCTV’s "Face the Music" programme for which he penned his many Hidden Melodies (setting of well-known tunes in the styles of different composers). In addition he was for a time, prior to the Second World War, a composer for the Post Office Film Unit, though none of his works achieved the fame of Britten's Night Mail.

Finally for two occasional composers who collaborated on the music of just one musical, Sunny Florida, toured in 1896 and revived in 1899 as Somebody’s Sweetheart, but to different music by others, Edward Marris was also an actor and author, responsible later for the books of The Dandy Doctor and The Gentleman Jockey. Augustus T. MacInnes was a conductor and Sunny Florida appears to have been his only significant composition.

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.

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