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We begin with a brief reference to one of the present-day writers of incidental music for films, TV or radio: Neil Brand, whose latest effort in that particular direction has been to write "pantomime music" for a radio play Rumpole and Old Familiar Faces, transmitted in December 2001.

Tom Birkett, who died in 2001, was a Drum Major in H.M. Coldstream Guards who also composed, mainly marches such as Hazelmere, Out the Escort and The Adjutant.

Next for two ballad composers active in the period, prior to the Great War. J. Fred Helf is known for just one title, when an Old School Boy Meets An Old School Girl, dated 1913. Second, H.W. Petrie, who straddled the 19th and 20th Centuries, seems to have derived particular inspiration from the sea. His best known song – and it was popular in its day – was Asleep in the Deep, but we can also cite At Night in the Stormy Deep, published in 1907, Davy Jones’ Locker, Down in the Deep Let Me Sleep (could this have been confused with his best known title?), Ho! For a Sail in a Piping Breeze, On the Roll of the Open Sea, The Song of the Lighthouse Bell, Where the Winds O’er the Sea and When the Sunset Turns the Oceans Blue to Gold.

Finally, a word about Geraldo, whose real name was Gerald Bright (1904-74), although he was an arranger and compiler rather than a composer as such. A pianist and organist, he studied the former at the Royal Academy of Music. He then formed a Light Orchestra (under his real name) which played for five years at the Hotel Majestic, St Anne’s-On-Sea before changing his name to Geraldo in 1930. Thereafter he created various dance orchestras under that name and recorded prolifically and broadcast over 2000 times. He directed the musical show The Fleet’s Lit Up in 1938 and was in ENSA during the Second World War.

Philip L Scowcroft

December 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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