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Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


We begin with a modern-day TV composer SIMON BRINT'S latest venture is an attractive, very eclectic score for the BBC serial The Monarch of the Glen - marvellous scenery, pity about the script.

Now for a few more names from the world of the stage musical twenty-odd years ago. CHRIS LITTLEWOOD, musical director and composer, was responsible for the scores of Gilgamesh! (1978) and Miss Leading Lady (1979), both produced at Salisbury, and for nothing else that I have so far found. DEREK GRIFFITHS, who provided the music for a burlesque version of The Three Musketeers in Manchester in 1979, was better known as an actor and this may have been his high point as a composer.

By one of those coincidences which are not uncommon in various areas of real life, another musical Three Musketeers appeared around the same time, at Newcastle Playhouse in 1978, the music for that one being a joint affair between IAN ARMIT and ROGER HAINES, their only collaboration. Haines otherwise did an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, titled Shylock, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1974. This briefly made the West End, at His Majesty's Theatre three years later in a much altered version called Fire-Angel. It was not successful and the general view was that the original was better and it was this that was subsequently revived.

Armit was more prolific than any of the figures mentioned in the previous two paragraphs. His earliest musical shows were for the Threatre Royal, Stratford East - Gentlemen Prefer Anything (1974), The Land of the Dinosaurs (1974-5), Dracula (1974-5) and The Curse of the Werewolf (1976). Two other Armit shows were staged around the time of The Three Musketeers: Mafeking (1977), in Lancaster and The Mummy's Tomb (1978-9) in Leicester, the latter score a joint effort with STEPHEN WARBECK, who as we have seen, is happily still very active in various areas of the light music field.

The Welshman MORGAN NICHOLAS is another who is known for very little. Melody, and, rather less well known in performance, Rhapsody, both for either oboe or, less usually, cello and piano, were each published in 1949. The attractiveness of Melody, which was arranged for oboe and string orchestra, makes one wish he had published more.

Finally let us refer to the work of the Irishman PERCY WILLIAM FRENCH (1854-1920) and WILLIAM HOUSTON COLLISSON (1865-1920) in one paragraph as they were variously associated. French studied at Trinity College, Dublin. He was at first in engineering but in 1890 he turned full-time to writing and performing songs and sketches. Presently he moved to London and performed widely. Among his earliest songs was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer (1877). Most famously Phil The Fluter's Ball appeared in 1889; other songs included Slathery's Mounted Fit (also 1889), Mat Hannigan's Aunt (1892) and Come Back Paddy Reilly (1912). French was responsible for the words of many Irish songs but it is not quite clear for how many he also composed the music. The Mountains o'Mourne, associated in many people's minds with French, was apparently set to music by Collisson, a pianist with whom French regularly performed. Collisson also wrote the music for four plays written by French and many other songs including Are Ye Right There Michael?, inspired by the West Clare Railway, Donnegan's Daughter. The Pride of Petravore, Rafferty's Racin' Mare, Mrs Brady, Wait For a While Now, Mary, Maguire's Motor Bike, Flanagan's Flying Machine and No More of Your Golfin' For Me, some lyrics by French, some by others

Philip L. Scowcroft

March 2000

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