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We begin with a trio of ballad composers active around the time of the Great War. George Buchanan’s titles included Little Mother, Memory’s Home, M’Lady, The Ragman and Tinker Tom. Examples of Donald Crichton's songs: The Grey Watch and The Barefoot Maid. Of the three, Lewis Barnes seems to have provided most responses to the prevailing patriotic need, with songs like England Thy Name, The Soul of England, A Song of Gladness and Comrade (he also penned marches, including The King’s Command).

Again from roughly the same period was W.G. James, an Australian, whose popular choral songs included Five Australian Christmas Carols, Australia, O Thou Favoured Isle and the Six Australian Bush Songs: of which Stock Rider’s Song, featured in the 1924 Pageant of Empire, achieved particular fame.

We wind up with three who contributed to musical comedies in the first decade of the 20th Century. Ralph Nairn’s part in this was a few numbers for Harold Samuel’s The Honourable Phil in 1908. Evelyn Barker’s songs helped the success of Herbert Haines’ revue-type musicals The Catch of the Season (621 performances, Vaudeville Theatre, 1904) and the less successful The Talk of the Town (100 performances, Lyric Theatre, 1905). These included Molly O’Halloran for the former and A Nice Young Man for the latter, but after a few songs My Darling Hicks in 1907, little more was heard of her.

Harold Austin was responsible for a complete musical of his own, in the shape of The Purple Emperor, produced at Hammersmith in 1909 with lyrics by T.C. and C. Austin, presumably relatives. Harold also published many ballad-like songs - among them I Have a Dream, In the Woods, Molly O’Donegal and Roses, Roses All the Way.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2002

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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