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We start as so often in these Garlands with three Victorian dance composers all of whose pieces were familiar in the ballrooms of the 1880s: J.P. CLARK, composer of the galop Morning Bell, G. CLEMENTS (of the galop, Hesper) and J. MILLER the Laughing Polka). A brass band composer active at around the same time was C. BROCK, whose march Plantagenet was played by bands in Doncaster and doubtless elsewhere.

Coming much more up-to-date we notice the distinguished pianist NINA MILKINA, born in Moscow in 1919 but English-domiciled from an early age and long respected inter alia for her Mozart interpretations. Not many people however know that she published a number of short, light pieces for piano solo: a suite in eight movements, My Toys, Two Fairy Tales, Fete du Village and March Burlesque.

Having disposed of a few minor figures we pass now to consider some major figures in British music. Arguably the six greatest names in British 20th Century serious music were Elgar, Delius, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Britten and Tippett. All six, however, composed, to some degree what may be reckoned as light music; but this part of their respective output has been either ignored or underplayed by the many people who have written studies of their music. That gap should be filled and this Garland and the next will attempt to do that. As Elgar's light music is relatively large I deal with him at much greater length. The 60th Garland will cover the remaining five giants.

© P L Scowcroft

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

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