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The proliferation of wind ensembles in our own day has produced a substantial amount of basically light music specially written for them by contemporary composers. We have previously mentioned a few of them. GORDON LEWIN, IAN HAROLD, NORMAN HALLAM, JOHN CAMERON, MARTIN ELLERBY - and many more. One other name to add to these is CHARLES STAINER (no relation, as far as I am aware, to the composer of The Crucifixion), whose works for wind quintet include a Scherzo and other pieces, still another is KEITH AMOS, composer of orchestral, chamber and choral music and - on the lighter side - composer for brass band and for wind ensemble, in which latter genre Animal Friends enjoys popularity.

The light music composers of the inter-war years are in many cases completely forgotten. There are of course the Eric Coateses, Haydn Woods and Montague Phillipses, which - the first especially - have survived better than most. In the case of others their memory is kept alive by just one work. An example is ALBERT E. MATT, his work the march Fame and Glory. This is invariably played on Armistice Sunday as the first march accompanying the march past of veterans past the Cenotaph. Unfortunately unless one is luckily enough to be actually present one hears just a few bars the BBC coverage "cuts" to see how the Armistice is being remembered in place like Singapore or the Falkland Islands or wherever. Fame and Glory is a raising piece and its use in the Remembrance ceremony seems to add a kind of moving distinction to it. For me it is as Matt's Opus 21, one of the finest of all British marches.

However it is not by any means Matt's only composition. His "floreat" period appears to have been primarily the two decades between the wars and the list of orchestral compositions I append hereto seems very much of the period. There were the suites An Evening Ramble and Norwegian Scenes and a number of single genre movements. Two of these, a reverie, Angelus and the "capriccietto, Carnival, were grouped with the title Two Pieces as his Opus 17. Others include the entr'acte Coquetterie, an intermezzo, Farewell and Devotion Rustique. But their "fame and glory" appear to have faded now.

Brass band composers are legion; one present day practitioner is D. LANCASTER, whose piece, Bridge on the River Wharfe has been recorded by the Wetherby & District Silver Band.

GUY DAGUL's parents are the piano duettists Harvey Dagul and Isabel Beyer, who have made many recordings though four of them have been of music by British composers. Guy however produced a number of compositions including an attractive score written for the latest series of Delia Smith's cookery presentation on TV.

CARL KIEFORT, by his name, was German by birth, but he settled in England in the 1880s and for upwards of a quarter of a century he made a busy career for himself as a conductor on the London light musical stage up to around the time of the Great War. He composed, too, A Village Venus (1895), A Merry Mad Cap (1896), The Gay Grisette (1898), Hidenseek (1901), Zuiyder Zee (1907) and, most notably, for The Ballet Girl (1897). Usually his compositional contributions were jointly with other writers but The Gay Grisette and The Ballet Girl were entirely his. He was always regarded as a conductor, most notably of operettas by Osmond Carr, Sidney Jones, Leslie Stuart and Lionel Monckton; his skill as an orchestrator was much in demand.

© Philip L. Scowcroft

January 2000

Enquiries to Philip at

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

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