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We begin with three composers who were active around the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries. WARWICK MOORE produced a considerable number of dance-flavoured miniatures like the Russian Dance, Livonia. From some of his titles, EDWARD ST. QUENTIN almost has the air of a "Boer War morale booster" composer, examples from his output being his grand march, Roberts to the Front and the quickstep Dolly Gray, published for piano solo. His song titles included Forget All Your Troubles.

NOEL JOHNSON's songs were being sung before 1900 and for long afterwards. Johnson, more celebrated than Moore and St. Quentin, was indeed known mainly for his (very varied) songs. Several of these set German words and there were Six Songs for Children and a number of art songs like Weep You No More Sad Fountains, but others we may count as ballads: Farewell to Summer, I Come to You, dated 1915, If Thou Wert Blind, Grey Days, The Rose, Affinity, The River and the Sea and Love in the Meadows. His instrumental publications included orchestral dances from The Taming of the Shrew and a couple of Songs i.e. without words ("I Whisper" and "Morning") for piano solo.

JOHN W. DUARTE, born in 1919, is, as I write, happily still with us. He is recognised as a writer as well as composer, specialising in both areas - primarily - though by no means entirely - in music for the lute and guitar. Many of his compositions (he has published dozens of arrangements), mainly for guitar(s), are plausibly classified as light music: the popular English Suite (actually "No 1", No 2 is for two guitars, No 3 for four guitars), Variations on a Catalan Folk Song, Three Modern Miniatures (1953), Toute en Ronde, Noah's Arks: Six Sketches for Guitar, Little Suite (for guitar quartet), Suite Française (for two guitars) and two Greek Suites.

Finally here are two composers who have both written a considerable amount, more particularly for young performers and of which much is light in character. SIDNEY PAVEY has indeed had a Clarinet Sonata published; his light novelty Gingerbread Man is also for clarinet and piano. For orchestra his genre movements include Clog Dance (1974), Windmills and Russian Dance. And MICHAEL ROSE, born in 1934, has had a lot of vocal and choral music published; his light instrumental pieces include Round Dance (1977), for percussion, piano and string orchestra, a Suite for recorder-quarter, Five Portraits for piano solo and an attractive Caprice for flute(s) which I heard very recently.

© Philip L. Scowcroft

January 2000




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

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