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Scrolls down to one of the 'Legends' below on this page, or click a name to be taken to a separate page.
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[disc] = downloadable discographies attached as DOC or RTF files
Ronnie Aldrich was one of Britain’s most popular recording pianists during the 1960s and 1970s. He ultimately developed his own distinctive style which made him instantly recognisable to his countless admirers around the world. His technique could be deceptively simple: often he would begin by picking out a melody in single notes, before eventually revealing that he could make his two hands sound like many more. Added to this was a carefully chosen supporting orchestra, frequently providing a lush and sophisticated backdrop through the use of strings, but on other occasions he allowed the percussion to come to the fore. He liked to surprise his audience from time to time, but in his heart he knew what they really enjoyed and he always ensured that they would not be disappointed.
John Barry was arguably Britain's best-known composer of film music. He emerged at a time when the score of a movie was seldom recorded for the album market, and when the musical arranger, for all his importance to the end product, was a comparatively anonymous part of the film-making process. Barry's career has spanned the years in which there has been this increasing awareness of the importance of this role.
LES BAXTER, AN AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST
by Enrique Renard
Late in 1936, British composer Harry Revel had a chance meeting with an attractive Frenchwoman at the bar of the Hotel George V, in Paris. "The fragrance of her perfume", stated Revel, "transposed itself in my mind to a melodic theme". When asked, the lady indicated that she was wearing a scent from Corday called ‘Toujours Moi’. "It occurred to me then", continues Revel, "that if one fragrance could inspire melody there must be others that can do the same".
A Tribute by Mike Carey
When Ronald Binge passed away on September 6, 1979, the tributes to him were led by Vivian Ellis and Sidney Torch, such was the esteem in which the composer and arranger was held. Ronnie, a modest, shy and self-effacing man despite the renown his talents brought him, would have appreciated that because throughout his life the approbation of his peers always meant as much, if not more, to him than those twin impostors, fame and fortune.
Stanley Black has made a major contribution to our musical life. It seems as though he has always been around, not only with his distinctive piano style (especially in Latin American music), but also conducting large orchestras playing impressive film music and popular melodies that appealed to millions around the world.
"THE SNOWMAN" AND ALL THAT : THE MUSIC OF HOWARD BLAKE
By Philip L Scowcroft
As I write, the Christmas TV feature "The Snowman" is 30 years old; the music for that, comprising not only the song Walking in the Air, but a nigh on 30 minutes sound track (though not for its 2012 Channel 4 sequel, "The Snowman and the Snowdog") was by Howard Blake. The composer may have become fed up with being remembered primarily for that, rather as Rachmaninoff was, when asked to play so many times that Prelude. In fact he has produced so many works - upwards of 600 - that it will not be the easiest of tasks to summarise his output. Generally speaking it has an easy, shapely, lyrical feel; although it includes substantial pieces like concertos and a Symphony we may fittingly regard it as "light music" in its broader sense.
Leslie Bridgewater, Pianist, Conductor and Composer by Philip L Scowcroft
Ernest Leslie (but usually known as Leslie) Bridgewater is a prime example of a light music man whose career was largely made by the BBC, for whom he worked for many years, and although he did work in other musical areas these were again, arguably and for the most part, light music.
Frederick George Charrosin, who died in 1976, composed fairly prolifically – mainly orchestral miniatures, single movements rather than suites, many of them suitable for the shelves of the publishers’ recorded music libraries (Paxton, Boosey and, again, Bosworth were the publishers most favoured by him). They included Fireside Gypsies, Foreboding, Playbox (an intermezzo), Trickery (a caprice), the pasodoble Don Carlos, Busy Business, Keep Moving, Stealth, Hiker’s Highway, Scaramouche, Dive Bomber (an indication he was active during the Second War, in which he suffered the loss of a son killed in action), Mysterious March, Festival in Seville and two pieces for piano (or xylophone – and as such very popular at the time – or piccolo) with orchestra, Snowflakes and the waltz, Zita. It was, however, his colourful arrangements that were most in demand for orchestras performing on the "wireless", especially in the post Second War period. I well remember the frequency with which his name cropped up in the orchestral programmes listed in the "Radio Times", as the arranger both of popular classics (one popular example, of dozens, maybe hundreds, was of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances) and as the compiler of medleys like Juvenalia (a nursery rhyme selection), Anglia, an "English fantasia", Fantasie Slave, The Land of the Shamrock and Fantasie on Themes of Liszt. The many light orchestras of that rich era owed him a great deal.
© Philip Scowcroft
This profile first appeared in ‘Journal Into Melody’ September 2007
FROM RUMANIA TO ENGLAND: The Musical Career of FRANCIS CHAGRIN (1905-1972)
By Philip L Scowcroft
Chagrin was born Alexander Paucker in Bucharest on 15 November 1905 and initially trained (in Switzerland) as an engineer, changing course to a musical career, despite family opposition, in the 1930s. He studied first in Paris (with Nadia Boulanger and Paul Dukas ofSorcerer’s Apprentice fame) while earning money playing the piano in night clubs and composing light music, and then in London with Matyas Seiber. He settled here in 1936 and married an English girl, by whom he had two sons. He died on 10 November 1972.
It was the sound of bustling Piccadilly Circus at the heart of Thirties’ London. Motor cars honked their horns, music played, and the voice of a flower-seller could be heard repeating her familiar street cry: "Violets, luvly sweet violets!" followed by a newsboy calling "In Town Tonight! In Town Tonight!" Then, above all the noise, a policeman’s voice suddenly shouted "Stop!", and, as if by magic, the traffic was brought to an immediate standstill. After a short pause, having captured everybody’s attention, the voice of authority continued: "Once again we silence the mighty roar of London’s traffic to bring to the microphone some of the interesting people who are In Town Tonight!"
CENTENARY MAN : A MEMOIR OF SAMUEL COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
By Philip L Scowcroft
As I write in December 2012, it is still a hundred years since the death of Samuel Coleridge- Taylor, a composer of talent who, although he composed a Symphony, a Violin Concerto, a Ballade in A Minor, premiered at the Three Choirs Festival having been given the imprimatur of approval by Edward Elgar, no less, chamber music (a Nonet, a Clarinet Quintet and a String Quartet), mostly dating from his student days at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Stanford, and several cantatas. Of the latter we do not now hear Meg Blane, Kubla Khan and A Tale of Old Japan but for a long period choral societies in the North of England remained faithful to the trilogy, The Song of Hiawatha and during May 2013 the Doncaster Choral Society is to revive its most famous "third", (actually its first third), Hiawatha's Wedding Feast. However his memory is primarily kept green by performances of works which we can regard as diverse examples of light music, of which more in a moment.
"I can certainly subscribe to the suggestion that the marked degree of modesty shown by Frederic Curzon in respect of his own abilities and musicianship amounted to almost diffidence. Perhaps an innocence of the true value of one's abilities and skills, in any field of creative art, is an essential ingredient in the production of excellence".
Picture the scene outside London’s Winter Garden theatre in 1931. On one side of the stage door is a 17-year-old shy youth who has just bought a day-return rail ticket from Neath in South Wales, clutching a song he has specially written for the star of the show. Barring his way is a burly door-keeper who is determined to keep him out. A voice from within enquires what all the commotion is about.
Trevor Duncan (real name Leonard Charles Trebilco) was born in Camberwell, London, England, on 27th February 1924. I visited him at his Somerset home in April 1994 to discuss these new recordings of some of his best works, and he explained to me that his skills as a composer were almost totally self-taught.
Almost everybody has enjoyed the music of Vivian Ellis who created more than 60 English stage musicals and was behind many of the popular songs which thrilled listeners before and after the last war. Close your eyes and think back to the exciting tune that introduced the BBC Radio "Paul Temple" murder mysteries.
Joseph, born Josef, Engleman was a pianist. He was perhaps not quite the equal of his son, Harry, born in 1912, who was regarded by many as a successor to Billy Mayerl as a syncopated pianist-cum-composer (Harry’s compositions, on the Mayerl model, included Cannon off the Cushion, 1938, Snakes and Ladders, 1939, Chase the Ace, 1936, Skittles – he seems to have been keen on games titles, rather as Mayerl was on flower titles – plus Finger Prints, 1936, and Summer Rain, 1952, Harry also composed songs, notably Melody of Love, also arranged as a piano solo and, since then, for other instrumental combinations, and orchestral items including the twostep The Thoroughbred. Both Harry and Joseph had their own orchestras and bands in the Midlands. Harry was a dance band leader who often broadcast with his own Quintet and with the Aston Hippodrome Orchestra.
PERCY FLETCHER (1879-1932): LIGHT MUSIC ALL-ROUNDER
By Philip L Scowcroft
As a British light music figure Fletcher lies, in chronological terms, between Edward German (1862-1936) on the one hand and Eric Coates (1886-1957) and Haydn Wood (1882-1959) on the other. Were we to reckon light music as light orchestral music simply and look at the surviving examples Fletcher composed less than Coates, Wood or some other figures like Ketèlbey. The writer regards such a view as too limiting and prefers light music as that in which "the tune is more important than what you do with it". Such a view expands Fletcher's light music output (and this article) quite dramatically. He may indeed be seen as more of an all-rounder than many other British light music men, even though relatively few of us recall more than a handful of his compositional output, especially at the present time.
Having studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where he won a composition scholarship, John Fox made his first BBC Broadcast in the late 1950's and has featured on a great deal of broadcasting since then, including arranging and conducting for the BBC Radio Orchestra, with the accent on strings. Millions of listeners in Britain, Europe, the United States, Japan and particularly Germany have found pleasure and exhilaration in his broadcasts from the BBC, United States Networks, his record albums, compact discs and live performances.
Greg was born in Cambridge on 6th January 1947. His father was a professional trumpet player and had played with the rising stars of the Cambridge music scene in the late 1940's ... Jack Parnell, Tony Osborne, Ken Thorne (film orchestrator and composer Superman etc). Greg was thus brought up on the big bands and orchestras of the day. His 'hero' at the age of 7 or 8 was Frank Chacksfield, and this style of music left a deep impression on his later musical tastes.
Ron Goodwin was a brilliant composer, arranger and conductor, whose tuneful music reached the furthest corners of the world. Fortunately he was a prolific recording artist, so future generations will also be able to enjoy his music that has so enriched all our lives during the second half of the 20th century.
MORTON GOULD, AN AMERICAN GENIUS
By Enrique Renard
Legend has it that Mozart could compose at age five. That he, in fact, was too young to write his own music, hence his father would do the writing with the boy standing by his side and singing the melody.
Philip Green was born in 1911, and he started to learn the piano at the age of seven. He won a scholarship to London's Trinity College of Music when aged only thirteen, where he studied many areas of music including theory, harmony, orchestration and composition. He completed his studies by the age of eighteen, and began his professional career playing in various orchestras. Within a year he became London's youngest West End conductor at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
A PORTRAIT OF JOHNNY GREGORY
by BILL JOHNSON
John Gregory, known to all his friends as Johnny, was born in High Street Camden Town in London on October 12th 1924. He made his first broadcast in 1944. Although best known as a prolific record arranger having been with Philips for over 20 years, he was the BBC Radio Orchestra’s principal guest conductor. He is also a composer and has written the music for some 27 films, scored over 500 compositions and made over 2000 records which span the broad scope from light music, to Latin American, to Oriental. In 1976 he received an Ivor Novello Award for "Introduction and Air to a Stained Glass Window" and is generally recognised as one of the best orchestral and string ensemble composer/arrangers.
RONNIE HAZLEHURST : THE MAN BEHIND SO MANY FAMILIAR TV THEMES
By GARETH BRAMLEY
The name Ronnie Hazlehurst (aka Ronnie Bird) (1928-2007) may not mean a lot to film music lovers but his name will be forever linked with the famous Television series ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ set in Holmfirth - which ended its 31 series run in 2010; and the many other TV themes and scores he composed throughout his long career. The BBC complained that his theme sounded nothing like a comedy theme and should be faster. However, since the programme was due to air two days after it had been written there was no time for a re-write. It went on to become one his best loved themes and the longest running comedy on British TV.
John Cottam Holliday was born in London in 1887 and studied at the Guildhall School. He was pianist (touring England, America and Canada as Albert Chevalier’s accompanist – Holliday’s wife was née Ivy Chevalier – and also as a solo pianist), chorus master for many years at Drury Lane and composer. He served in both World Wars, in the Honourable Artillery Company in 1914-1918 and in the Observer Corps between 1940 and 1944.
ROBERTO INGLEZ — ELGIN’S MARVEL
In the centenary year of his birth DON LEE suggests that it’s time to re-evaluate the pioneering output of Elgin’s Latin-American Scot.
Most people outside the readership of Journal Into Melody today have not heard of Roberto lnglez, nor listened to his very individual sort of Latin-American music. Yet, instantly recognisable — on his specialist slow numbers anyway — by his relaxed one-finger piano style that must have been the background music to many a romantic evening in the 1940s/1950s; this was easy listening mood music years before its time.
Albert Ketelbey took us far away into an exotic Persian Market and Chinese Temple Garden, but always brought us back again to good old England, to places like Hampstead Heath on a bank holiday, or a secret monastery garden in the heart of the Yorkshire countryside. To older readers these specific musical settings will be quite familiar, for they are compositions by Albert Ketèlbey — the light-music genius of the early 20th century.
For many years Gordon Langford has been recognised as a fine pianist. People who take the trouble to check composers’ names will also recognise him for his brass band music. Light music admirers first came across the March from his ‘Colour Suite’ as long ago as 1970 when it was recorded by Sir Vivian Dunn and the Light Music Society Orchestra. Collectors of production music know him from titles such as ‘Royal Daffodil’ and ‘Hebridean Hoedown’.
The composer and record producer is profiled by EDMUND WHITEHOUSE
Philip Lane was born in 1950 at Cheltenham, the English Regency spa town at the foot of the Cotswolds Hills made famous through patronage by George III. It supports many annual festivals including National Hunt racing, literature, cricket and international music but was quite parochial until the latter stages of the 20th Century. The family owned a harmonium on which the small budding musician showed quite an aptitude, after which an upright piano was acquired on which he was able to indulge his fancies for almost every type of music.
Dolf van der Linden (real name David Gysbert van der Linden) was born in the Dutch fishing village of Vlaardingen on 22 June 1915.
He was the son of a music dealer who owned several musical instrument shops. His first direct contact with music was at the age of seven when his father, himself an excellent player, gave him his first violin lesson, as well as tuition in music theory. Very soon music became the only thing in life that mattered, and this accounts for him leaving school at an early age, to enter his father's business as an aspiring piano tuner.
Monia Liter was born in Odessa on the Black Sea on 27 January 1906, where he studied piano and composition at the Imperial School of Music. He left Russia during the 1917 revolution for Harbin, in North China, where he managed to continue with his musical education. This provided him with the suitable qualifications that enabled him to join an Italian opera company in Shanghai, as assistant conductor and choirmaster, subsequently touring with them throughout China and Japan. When this engagement terminated, he formed his own dance band in Hankow.
WILLIAM LLOYD WEBBER – An Unsung English Composer
By EDMUND WHITEHOUSE
Lloyd Webber is a familiar musical surname because both Andrew and Julian are experts in their own particular field — but what about their father, William? What indeed? For here was a man who, like many other tuneful composers of his generation, began to believe that his romantic, melodic music would never win acceptance during the fifties era of serialism and atonality.
A MUSICAL ALL-ROUNDER: LEIGHTON LUCAS (1903-1982)
By Philip L. Scowcroft
Leighton Lucas, born in London on 5 January 1903 (his Canadian-born father Clarence Lucas published drawing-room ballads), was musically self-taught, yet he later became a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music and also lectured elsewhere, even on radio. He had experience, as a dancer, with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe between 1918 and 1921 and then as a conductor with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (1922-3) and in a performance of Rutland Boughton’s opera "The Immortal Hour" in 1923. He later conducted for the ballet (as we shall see, he also composed for it) and, after war service in the RAF, formed his own Leighton Lucas Orchestra to give concerts on the BBC – perhaps elsewhere – of unfamiliar, sometimes "modern", but always approachable, music and often French music. I enjoyed these during my teens and they expanded my own listening. They combined serious and light music as the following example from 29 March 1949, transmitted as "A Serenade" on the Third (yes, Third) Programme.
Born Annunzio Paolo Mantovani, 15 November 1905, Venice, Italy, died 30 March 1980, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. A violinist, pianist, musical director, conductor, composer and arranger, Mantovani was one of the most successful orchestra leaders and album sellers in the history of popular music. His father was principal violinist at La Scala, Milan, under Arturo Toscanini, and also served under Mascagni, Richter and Saint-Saens, and subsequently, led the Covent Garden Orchestra.
Ray Martin was one of the biggest names in British popular music during the 1950s. He conducted his orchestra regularly on radio and television, and was also an Artists and Repertoire Manager at EMI’s Columbia label, where he produced many hit records by their top contract stars. But today he is fondly remembered for his numerous recordings with his own orchestra, many of which were big sellers. His own compositions proved to be some of his greatest successes, such as Marching Stringsand Begorrah. To the confusion of discographers he used various pseudonyms, among them Marshall Ross, Chris Armstrong, Buddy Cadbury, Hans Gotwald, Gus Latimer, Harry Nelson, Lester Powell, Tony Simmonds and Ricardo Suerte ... there are probably many more.
Born in Tottenham Court Road on 31st May 1902, a stone’s throw from London’s West End theatreland, pianist Billy Mayerl won a scholarship to nearby Trinity College while still only a small boy. Before long he publicly performed Grieg’s "Piano Concerto" at the Queen’s Hall and by his early-teens was playing in dance bands and accompanying silent films in a variety of cinemas. Before he reached his majority he became solo pianist with the prestigious Savoy Havana Band at London’s top hotel on the Strand.
George Melachrino conducted one of the finest British Light Orchestras in the years immediately following World War 2. Thanks to the Long Playing record, his fame spread throughout the world, especially in North America where his albums sold millions of copies.
MITCH MILLER – THE GREAT IMPRESSARIO
by PETER LUCK
For nearly 15 years from 1950, Mitch Miller was a major figure in the recording industry. In addition to being one of the most dominant men in that industry, as the head of A. & R. (artists and repertory) at Columbia Records in the USA, he was also one of the most popular recording artists at Columbia Records, responsible for numerous chart singles and also hosting his own highly rated network television show.
If any readers had doubts about the important work carried out by the ‘backroom boys’ of the music industry, this fascinating life story will certainly be an eye-opener! Rarely seeking the limelight themselves, they often created the sounds we all grew to love so much.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS: THE CECIL MILNER STORY (1905-1989)
by Colin Mackenzie and Timothy Milner
Cecil Milner has sometimes been described as one of light music’s respected "backroom boys", a statement which, we would argue, does not do full justice to his prolific career in music. In his prime Milner was a craftsman, his arranging and composing skills being among the best in the business. Although film music was his forte, he was also part of the light music scene for many years, including a lengthy and successful association with Mantovani which began in 1952.
Angela Morley was born at Leeds, Yorkshire on 10 March 1924. Her birth name was Walter (Wally) Stott, and she became well-known in Britain for her recordings and radio work - especially with the famous "Goon Show". Her high public profile meant that she attracted a lot of unwelcome publicity in 1972 when she decided to have a sex change operation, and for a while she put her musical career on hold. Happily for us, she soon overcame the difficulties in her personal life, and went on to produce many new compositions and arrangements that received wide praise.
Born 15 May 1914, London, England, died 9 September 1979. The most prolific producer of UK pop chart-toppers was a mild, bespectacled gentleman who had studied piano and worked as an accompanist, prior to playing and arranging with a number of London dance bands, among them Maurice Winnick's Orchestra. During his time in the RAF during World War II, Paramor entertained servicemen in the company of artists such as Sidney Torch and Max Wall, served as a musical director for Ralph Reader's Gang Shows, and scored music for Noel Coward, Mantovani and Jack Buchanan.
His Recollections of a Life in British Musical Theatre
As Told to Reuben Musiker
This distinguished British composer, conductor and musical director celebrated his 80th birthday on 2 December 2004. He now lives in Israel. To mark the occasion, he agreed to contribute an overview of some of the highlights and achievements in his long and illustrious career for ‘Journal into Melody’. This publication is particularly appropriate as Cyril Ornadel holds Robert Farnon in the highest possible esteem. He writes about their association in a recent letter to Reuben Musiker:
Tony Osborne was a well known name in Britain during the late 50's, the 60’s and the early 70’s, thanks to his many recordings and appearances on radio and television. He was born Edward Benjamin Osborne near Cambridge on 29 June 1922, and completed his education at St. George’s College.
HELEN PERKIN 1909-1996
By Philip L Scowcroft
2009 is a year of musical anniversaries: Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Avison, Mendelssohn and Albeniz, to say nothing of major 75th celebrations like those of Elgar, Holst and Delius. Not all those have light music connections, but one who has is Helen Perkin, born in London in 1909 and trained at the Royal College of Music. It was while she was still at the College that she was noticed by John Ireland and coached by him in his Piano Concerto which she premiered to great acclaim in a Henry Wood Prom in 1930. He dedicated it to her but withdrew the dedication when the friendship soured; the Concerto remained popular well into the 1950s, as I well remember, with the composer there to acknowledge the applause.
Donald Phillips was born in Dalston, East London, in 1913.
He did not have a musical background; his father was a journeyman tailor. His mother paid for some music lessons, but although Donald had to leave school early, his love of music shone through.
By GARETH BRAMLEY
Neil Grant Richardson (1930-2010), known as Neil Grant-Richardson from 1990 onwards, was one of the most prolific library music composers in the 1970s working mainly with KPM (Keith Prowse Music) but also other libraries such as Boosey & Hawkes-Cavendish (9 themes). Although most of his output was in this medium he also contributed to the world of TV & Film Music – in fact, some of his KPM themes were used in many TV / Film / Radio productions. Robert Farnon – regarded by most as the greatest producer of light music of all time - described Richardson as ‘the finest writer for strings in Europe’. He had a great working relationship with Richard Rodney Bennett, as we shall learn.
Enrique Renard remembers the Englishman who became one of the ‘Greats’ of American Light Music
A BUNCH OF HOLIDAYS – THE DAVID ROSE STORY
It was in 1942, the year the USA had just entered World War II, that a totally unknown young jazz pianist brought to RCA producers a few light pieces he had composed. He played them in the piano, but explained that his intention was to orchestrate and record them with a full ensemble, including strings.
DESTINED TO GO THROUGH LIFE FIRST CLASS THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EDMUNDO ROS
by BILL JOHNSON
Edmundo Ros was born on 7th December 1910 in Port of Spain Trinidad at the height of British colonial rule. The Windward Isles had been a Spanish, British, Dutch, and French possession until February 1797. However, during the French Revolution, Trinidad capitulated to British force, and in 1802, following the Treaty of Amiens, it was ceded to Great Britain. In 1814, following the Napoleonic Wars, France also ceded Tobago to Britain.
CONRAD SALINGER -
M-G-M ARRaNGER SUPREME
by RICHARD HINDLEY
"What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again"
Think of a production number from one of the great MGM musicals. Whether it be Gene Kelly splashing along the sidewalk from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse ‘Dancing in the Dark’ from ‘The Bandwagon’, or Fred with Judy Garland as a ‘Couple of Swells’ in ‘Easter Parade’, the chances are you’ll be associating these famous performers with those equally well known arrangements by Conrad Salinger. What’s interesting is that even if he hadn’t been associated with the number of your choice, it was Salinger who eventually set the defining style of the studio’s musicals, something that took place soon after the start of his 23 year career there.
Raymond Scott By Arthur Jackson
Raymond Scott isn’t merely a name from the past, and may still be fondly remembered by pre-war listeners; but how many, I wonder, realise just how enormous his talent span was, apart from the novelties like Toy Trumpet and In An Eighteenth Century Drawing Room. He wrote for Hollywood, Broadway, and radio and had his own band that featured (naturally) his own compositions as well as standards; in all, dance music of the highest quality as well as an individual brand of swing music.
EDRICH SIEBERT : Man of Brass
by PHILIP SCOWCROFT
Edrich Siebert is still, twenty years after his death, a much performed figure in the brass band world. Many of his prolific arrangements and compositions are suitable for, and are eagerly lapped up by, junior bands and their members, though others have been played and recorded by major bands.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Cyril Stapleton was a well-known orchestra leader in Britain and overseas, thanks to his regular BBC broadcasts and his many recordings. He was born on 31 December 1914 at Mapperley, Nottingham, in the east midlands of England. At the age of seven he began learning the violin, and when only 12 he made his first broadcast from 5NG, the local radio station in Nottingham. Thereafter he broadcast regularly from the BBC Studios in Birmingham, then went to Czechoslovakia to study under Sevcik, the famous teacher of the violin.
A Composer Profile by PETER WORSLEY
Yet another composer with qualities in both serious and lighter music, James Stevens fell foul of the BBC avant garde brigade and performances of his music on radio became a rarity, although he was feted abroad. He studied initially with Benjamin Frankel in his exclusive class at the Guildhall School of Music in London where he won several prestigious awards including the Royal Philharmonic Prize for his First Symphony and the Wainwright Scholarship for "composer of the year". A French Government Bursary took him across the Channel to study with Darius Milhaud at the Paris Conservatoire where he met Nadia Boulanger who made him one of her star pupils with free Saturday evening tuition. He also enjoyed an open invitation to Arthur Honegger’s classes.
Frank Tapp (1883-1953), is an almost forgotten figure in British light music, yet in some ways he was an almost classic light music man and sixty years and more ago his music was played a lot. He is credited with composing a symphony but much of his output was light orchestral. Relatively early in his career he directed the Bath Pump Room Orchestra (1910-1919) when that ensemble was larger than it is now. I suspect that his two light concert suites are worthy of revival. One, English Landmarks, comprising a waltz "Ascot", "Tintern Abbey" and the march "Whitehall" is topographical in inspiration like so many of those suites were; the other, Land of Fancy, whose three movements are "A Swing Song at Morn", "Sprite’s Lullaby" and "The Pixies’ Parade" is indeed more fanciful.
From the 1920s, until his death on 23 March 1977 at the age of 77, Billy Ternent was a highly respected figure in the British popular music scene.
He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 10 October 1899, and is reported to have been playing the violin by the age of seven. When only twelve his first job was playing in a trio accompanying the silent films at a North Shields cinema, and four years later he was conducting a cinema orchestra on a circuit owned by the theatrical impresario George Black. Radio didn’t arrive on the scene until Billy was well into his twenties, but he soon became involved in what was to become a major part of his life. His first broadcast was with a sextet from a tea-room in his native Newcastle.
Long regarded as one of the leading figures in the field of light music, Ernest Tomlinson was born at Rawtenstall, Lancashire on September 19, 1924 into a musical family. He started composing when he was only nine, at about the same time that he became a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral, where he was eventually to be appointed Head Boy in 1939. Here, and at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School his musical talents were carefully nurtured, and he was only 16 when he won a scholarship to Manchester University and the Royal Manchester (now Northern) College of Music. He spent the next two years studying composition, organ, piano and clarinet until, in 1943, the war effort demanded that he leave and join the Royal Air Force. Defective colour-vision precluded his being selected for aircrew and the new recruit, having his request to become a service musician turned down on the grounds that he was too healthy to follow such a career, found himself being trained as a Wireless Mechanic, notwithstanding that many of the components he was required to work with were colour-coded! (The future composer, however, was duly delighted with his assignment, which he thoroughly enjoyed and which almost certainly contributed to a later interest in electronic music). He saw service in France during 1944 and 1945, eventually returning to England where, with the cessation of hostilities, he was able to resume his studies. He finally graduated in 1947, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Music for composition as well as being made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and an Associate of the Royal Manchester College of Music for his prowess on the King of Instruments.
Sidney Torch, MBE, distinguished himself in two musical spheres. In his early years he gained a reputation as a brilliant cinema organist, but in the second half of his career he switched to composing and conducting Light Music, with even greater success.
CYRIL WATTERS : An Unassuming Genius of Light Music
By DAVID ADES
Of all the many musicians I have met since 1956 at meetings of the Robert Farnon Society, few have been as modest and charming as Cyril Watters. He was a true gentleman, in every good sense of the word, and it was always a great pleasure to be in his company. Never one to promote his own music, he was always at great pains to compliment others on their work, which was amply confirmed during the many years that he guided the Light Music Society as its Secretary. This was during a difficult period of the 1960s, when the BBC and record companies seemed to be turning their backs on Light Music, but Cyril’s quiet persuasion undoubtedly benefited many of his colleagues in the profession.
Paul Weston was one of the true ‘greats’ of the American Recording Industry of the 20th century, and he is credited with having been a pioneer of ‘mood music’ albums. He was around for a long time, so it is hardly surprising that his talent was employed in several different aspects during his highly successful career. Many top singers owe a great deal to him for the perfect backings he provided to their songs, often resulting in hit recordings. He also achieved considerable fame in his later life as ‘Jonathan Edwards’, the pianist who had difficulty keeping to the right tempo in those excruciatingly funny parodies of off-key singers so brilliantly portrayed by his wife, Jo Stafford, as ‘Darlene’.
The RFS US Representative spends a memorable day with one of his teenage idols
Forrest Patten Meets Roger Williams
What can I say? I've been a fan of Roger Williams ever since my Dad brought home a copy of his Kapp album BORN FREE back in 1967. As a budding pianist, I was looking for examples of popular songs of the day that I could pick up on and include in my own performance repertoire. Hearing Roger play, I realized almost instantly that he just doesn't "play a song"; he interprets the music in a very special way. That's what sets him a part from other musicians. He doesn't need to put on a splashy, Liberace-like stage show. When he performs in concert, his playing is all one needs to be instantly transported. From the stage, he talks to you like an old friend.
John Wilson was born at Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in the north-east of England on 25 May 1972, where he can remember always being fascinated by music. This eventually led him to study composition and conducting at the Royal College of Music, London, where his teachers were Joseph Horovitz and Neil Thomson. He graduated from the RCM in 1995, winning all the major conducting prizes and the coveted Tagore Gold Medal for the most outstanding student.
It seems astonishing that a composer whose output boasted a substantial body of orchestral works including 15 suites, 9 rhapsodies, 8 overtures, 3 big concertante pieces and nearly 50 other assorted items; six choral compositions, some chamber music - notably a string quartet and over a dozen instrumental solos - 7 song cycles and something in excess of 200 individual songs, should today be remembered more or less by just three of those vocal items (Roses of Picardy, A Brown Bird Singing and Love's Garden of Roses) and a single movement of his London Landmarks Suite - Horse Guards, Whitehall. It's not as if his musical credentials were in any serious doubt. Quite simply, Haydn Wood, along with others of similar stylistic ilk, fell victim to changes in fashion and especially the sharp reaction against music which preferred to concentrate on appeals to the heart rather than the head, as it were.
Peter Yorke conducted one of Britain’s most popular broadcasting orchestras from the 1940s until the 1960s. He was also a gifted composer and he created many stunning arrangements that brought out some fine performances from the top musicians he always employed.
A Brief Biography of
LEON EDWARD STEPHEN YOUNG
Arranger & Conductor (1916-1991)
by his son MALCOLM HARVEY YOUNG
Leon Young was born on 21 April 1916, the son of Leon and Ethel Young. Named Leon after his father, he is especially treasured, particularly as his younger brother, Raymond, was soon to die in infancy.
Not merely a triple threat, Victor Young was known as a violinist, arranger, film composer, songwriter, conductor and record producer. This wide experience in all forms of music, from his first hit song,Sweet Sue, Just You in 1928 to his tremendous score for "Around the World in 80 Days" in 1956, was exceptional even by Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood standards, all the more so because his international reputation was achieved in such a short lifetime.