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First, a group of three composers of stage musical active, if not very active, in the 1960s. Tony Russell was involved with the jazz scene though the scores of his two musicals were not particularly jazzy. The Match Girls (1965, premiered at Leatherhead and revived at the Globe the following year where it had 119 outings) and God Made the Little Red Apple, staged in Manchester in 1969. The Hoppy Dance from The Match Girls was published as a piano solo. Kenny Graham was responsible for the scores of Three Musketeers?, first heard at Margate in 1962 and then transferred to the Lyric, Hammersmith in 1963, and 4000 Brass Halfpennies (Mermaid, 1965). These both achieved some success though the critics savaged the latter for the "derivative" quality of the music. And Bob Harris, who acted in the original Bristol Old Vic cast of Salad Days in 1954, provided both lyrics and music for Our Boys, produced at Farnham in 1963.

Writing incidental music for films, TV and radio is still, seemingly a growth industry with many people becoming involved in it. One I have not so far mentioned is Sian Burns, whose latest (February 2002) foray in this direction is music for BBC Radio 4’s Stendhal serial The Charterhouse Parma.

Norman Higgins, who was active particularly in the 1970s, wrote and published piano music for dancers to practise to, published indeed by the Royal Academy of Dancing. However some of his pieces might have a future as recital items, notably Butterfly Dance and Scherzo (1976), Andantino (1977), Two Folk Melodies (1977) and a Waltz in E.

Finally, the 1930s were a great period for the themed orchestral suite. Haydn Wood and Eric Coates wrote dozens of these between them; others published two, or even one, like H. Bick, whose A Visit to the Insect Zoo had three movements: Grasshoppers’ Holiday (shades of Ernest Bucalossi!), Butterfly's Lullaby and Bumblebees’ Wedding (a little reminiscent of Mendelssohn, though he was not responsible for the Bees’ Wedding title). Bick’s orchestra was quite a large one, including two saxophones.

Philip L Scowcroft

February 2002

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Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.

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