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To start with, we once again tap the musical theatre of the late Victorian era. Frederick William Humphreys arranged and composed the music for several pantomimes of the period, notably Bluebeard, also songs such as Heigh Ho For Daffodil Time and Early One Morning. Harry C Barry was an actor, but he also wrote the music for the burlesques, Shylock, or The Venus of Venice (1892) and Turpin à la Mode (1897), both of them toured provincially. And musical director George Richardson achieved some fame as a composer, especially with Popocatapetl put on in 1874 as a forepiece to Lecocq’s La Fille de Mme Angot in which he interpolated songs of his own. Richardson's Bluff King Hal, King and Martyr (1877) was toured provincially.

Two composers who are still alive are worth a brief mention: Mike Batt for his popular songs including The Wombles and Bright Eyes from the film Watership Down; and Julian Jacobson (1947-), pianist and composer, classically trained and having an interest in jazz, whose compositions include scores for half-a-dozen films and the flute solo Waltz for Judy for Judith Hall.

And finally to the Australian composer and music publisher Frederick Ellard, who was born in Dublin, the son of a music publisher and who followed that trade when he emigrated to New South Wales in the early 1840s. He was a prolific composer of light music: The Australian Ladies (16 dances for piano solo); four sets of dances entitled Ellard’s National Country Dances; Woodland Call and, celebrating the journey from Sydney to Parramatta on New South Wales’ first railway line, The Sidney Railroad Gallope (sic). His brother William Ellard also sailed for Australia but drowned en route, having already published The Australian Quadrilles. How fascinating to know that Australia was producing dance music at the same time as Jullien, Coote, the Godfreys and others whom the Garlands have remembered, were doing so in England.

Philip L Scowcroft

August 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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