1 Playtime (Robert Farnon) DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
2 Children’s Hour (Bruce Campbell) DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
3 Clockwork Clown (Edward White) NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by CEDRIC DUMONT
4 Playbox (Frederick George Charrosin) LOUIS VOSS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
5 Peter Pan (Dolf van der Linden) DOLF VAN DER LINDEN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
6 Tinkerbell (Angela Morley) DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
7 Little Boy Blue (Henry Croudson) LOUIS VOSS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Children’s Playtime Suite (Joseph Engleman)
8 Hide and Seek WEST END CELEBRITY ORCHESTRA
9 Marbles INTERNATIONAL RADIO ORCHESTRA
10 Pick a Back REGENT CLASSIC ORCHESTRA
11 Ring O’ Roses REGENT CLASSIC ORCHESTRA
12 Children In The Park: Dancing for Joy (Trevor Duncan, real name Leonard Trebilco) NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by DOLF VAN DER LINDEN
13 Dance of the Blue Marionettes (Leslie Clair, real name Leslie Judah Solley - arr. Len Stevens) QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA Conducted by SIDNEY TORCH
14 Fun Fair (Ray Martin) RAY MARTIN AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
15 The Dancer At The Fair (John Fortis) CHARLES SHADWELL AND HIS ORCHESTRA
16 Helter Skelter (Kenneth Essex, real name Rufus Isaacs) NATIONAL LIGHT ORCHESTRA
17 Jolly Juggler (Vivian Ellis) DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
18 In The Circus: Cowboy’s Horsemanship (J. Armandola) LONDON CONCERT ORCHESTRA
19 Clowneries (Roger Roger) ROGER ROGER AND HIS CHAMPS ELYSEES ORCHESTRA
20 Model Railway (Charles Williams) NEW CONCERT ORCHESTRA Conducted by JACK LEON
21 Time For Fun And Games (Douglas Brownsmith) NATIONAL LIGHT ORCHESTRA
22 Five o’ Clock Tea In The Dolls’ House (W. Rosen) REGENT CLASSIC ORCHESTRA
23 Skippy (Bruce Campbell) DANISH STATE RADIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by ROBERT FARNON
24 The Music Lesson (Charles Williams) CHARLES WILLIAMS AND HIS CONCERT ORCHESTRA
25 Parade of the Gnomes (Kennedy Russell) LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
26 Toytown Parade (A. Ferraris) LONDON PROMENADE ORCHESTRA Conducted by WALTER COLLINS
27 Children’s Overture (Roger Quilter) SIDNEY TORCH AND HIS ORCHESTRA
Guild Light Music GLCD 5125
The carefree years of childhood have for centuries provided inspiration for writers and composers, often conjuring up happy memories that seem far remote from the realities of everyday life. At times we all need to escape into a world where problems seem non-existent, and it is hoped that the music in this collection will provide just that welcoming refuge. Needless to say, this has been a fertile hunting ground for light music composers, especially those whose work was in demand for the newsreels of the middle years of the last century. Most of the names will be familiar to regular readers of this magazine, although it has been possible to unearth some previously unknown background information about a few of them.
Canadian-born Robert Farnon (1917-2005) is featured as both composer and conductor in this collection. Light Music enthusiasts will not need reminding of his tremendous influence on this area of the international music scene during the second part of the last century. His beautifully crafted melodies, numbering several hundreds in total, have been heard throughout the world in radio, television and films, and Playtime, which opens our CD, was written specially for his son Paul. Bob once revealed that he picked out the melody on the piano, with very young Paul on his knee, forcing him not to spread his arms too wide which explains why the notes are close together on the keyboard, and David Farnon confirmed this story at our recent London meeting.
Bruce Campbell was one of several writers who owed much to his association with Robert Farnon. He was a fellow Canadian, who actually came to Britain some years before Farnon, and played trombone with various British bands during the 1930s including Ambrose, Jack Harris, Jack Hylton, Sid Millward, Hugo Rignold and Lew Stone. Campbell assisted Farnon on his post-war BBC radio shows, and eventually became a frequent contributor to various mood music libraries. He has two melodies in this collection – Children’s Hour and Skippy – the latter still familiar to older TV viewers in Britain as the theme for "Seeing Sport".
Edward White (1910-1994) enjoyed considerable acclaim with his Runaway Rocking Horse when it emerged as one of the most popular pieces of light music in the immediate post-war years – the version by the Orchestre Raymonde can be heard on Guild GLCD5102. But he was to achieve even greater success a few years later with Puffin’ Billy (featured on Guild GLCD 5101), thanks to its use in Britain as the signature tune of "Children’s Favourites", and as the theme for "Captain Kangaroo" in the USA. Many other White originals found their way into the recorded music libraries of several London publishers, and this time the choice is his Clockwork Clown from Boosey and Hawkes.
Frederick George Charrosin (d. 1976) was a prolific composer of mood music, with many titles to his credit. He also created numerous arrangements for various ensembles broadcasting regularly on the BBC, and his Playbox became familiar during the 1950s. Like so many pieces of light music, the melody will be familiar but probably few people could put a name to it.
Dolf van der Linden (real name David Gysbert van der Linden, 1915-1999) was the leading figure on the light music scene in the Netherlands from the 1940s until the 1980s. As well as broadcasting frequently with his Metropole Orchestra, he made numerous recordings for the background music libraries of leading music publishers such as Boosey & Hawkes, Charles Brull and Paxton, often under various pseudonyms such as Nat Nyll and David Johnson. Peter Pan was one of his own compositions for Paxton, and it was chosen as the theme for a popular US TV show. Dolf’s commercial recordings (especially for the American market) were often as Van Lynn or Daniel De Carlo.
From Peter Pan we move on appropriately to Tinkerbell, one of many charming creations by Angela Morley (b. 1924). Today she is widely regarded as one of the finest English arrangers and film composers, although her early career (when she was known as Wally Stott) really took off when she provided the music for numerous "Goon Show" broadcasts on BBC Radio in the 1950s.
Henry Croudson (1898-1971) was born in Leeds, and he chose to pursue his career as an organist in the North of England. His many admirers in the cinema organ fraternity believe that, had he worked for a major London cinema in the 1930s, he could have become as famous as many of his contemporaries such as Sidney Torch, with whom his rhythmic style was often compared. Before army service in the First World War, he had worked as a clerk in the Midland Bank, but by the time he was demobbed in 1921 he realised that his future was in the music profession. Like many colleagues in the 1920s, he found employment in cinemas accompanying silent films, leading in the 1930s to regular engagements in the best northern cinemas. He made his first broadcast for the BBC on the Wurlitzer organ of the Paramount Theatre, Leeds, on 19 December 1934, and in the following year recorded the first of more than 20 records for Regal Zonophone. In 1940 – partly due to difficult wartime conditions – Henry and his wife Edna became managers of a public house in Leeds. However he did not desert the cinema organ and made welcome, but increasingly occasional, appearances in various parts of the country. In 1945 he worked on a film starring Wilfred Pickles, and was later invited to appear at the Gaumont in London’s Haymarket, where he remained for three years. When the Rank Organisation dismissed all its remaining cinema organists, Henry joined the music publishers Arcadia (who also handled some of George Melachrino’s compositions), and he was later with Chappell & Co. Interestingly some of his most enjoyable compositions were accepted by the rival firm Bosworth & Co., who recorded Little Boy Blue included on this CD. [Henry’s other works already on Guild include Rhapsody in Rhythm – GLCD5104, and Jack and Jill – GLCD5115]. In 1959 Henry once again became a publican – this time at the Red Lion Inn in Nazeing, Essex, before ill health forced him to retire ten years later. He died on 30 November 1971, shortly after his 73rd birthday.
Leslie Clair is the pseudonym for Leslie Judah Solley (1905-1968) who was at one time a Member of Parliament for the Thurrock constituency in Essex. As ‘Leslie Clair’ he was also known in music circles, and in 1957 worked for a while with Barry Gray on the TV series "The Adventures of Twizzle" composing the theme which, appropriately, was known as The Twizzle Song (the lyrics were provided by Roberta Lee). The London publishers Chappell & Co. recorded Clair’s best-known piece Dance of the Blue Marionettes for their Recorded Music Library in 1947 with Sidney Torch conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. Somewhat surprisingly this was arranged not by Torch, but by Len Stevens, yet Torch himself had arranged and performed this work on 5 April 1933 when he played the Christie Organ at the Regal Cinema, Marble Arch, London, for a popular Columbia 78.
The ‘fair’ theme is maintained with Dancer at the Fair by John Fortis, who is presumably the same composer who worked with James Littlefield on several New York ice revues during the mid-1940s. Dancer at the Fair appears to pre-date this period, and for a while it enjoyed popularity as a novelty number with dance bands as well as light orchestras. Here it is played by Charles Murray Winstanley Shadwell (d. 1979) and his orchestra, recorded in 1947 when Shadwell could be heard regularly on BBC radio broadcasts, notably "ITMA" and "Music Hall", which always ended with his own march Down with the Curtain. Another Shadwell composition is Lulworth Cove (on GLCD5107).
Kenneth Essex (real name Rufus Isaacs) seemed to have a gift of being able to compose numerous bright and frothy numbers, and his works were published by many mood music companies. Helter Skelter is typical of many of his works with a bright and breezy ‘outdoor’ feel about them. Some of his other pseudonyms include Derek Dwyer, Howitt Hale and Claude Vane.
Douglas Brownsmith (1902-1965 - he preferred not to use his first name which was Reginald) was a pupil at St Paul’s Choir School. His first big success as a composer came in 1927 when Down the Mall – written in collaboration with Tony Lowry - was published. In the following years it was heard frequently in radio broadcasts by organists and light orchestras, and commercial recordings were made by Philip Green (on Guild GLCD5116) and Charles Shadwell. The newly-formed BBC Dance Orchestra under Henry Hall made its first broadcast (and Columbia recordings) in March 1932, and Douglas Brownsmith was one of a fine team of arrangers, working alongside his colleague Tony Lowry and famous names such as Phil Cardew, Sid Phillips, Peter Yorke, Ronnie Munro and the American Van Phillips. One of his compositions, Hush Hush Hush Here Comes The Bogey Man (credited on the label to Lowton and Benson, actually Messrs. Lowry and Brownsmith) was on the other side of the famous Henry Hall record of Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Douglas also wrote under the pseudonyms ‘Ray Benson’ and ‘Douglas Hamilton’ which hid the true identity of the composer of other popular songs such as Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (recorded by Jack Payne and the BBC Dance Orchestra) and Wrap Your Arms Around Me (recorded by Henry Hall). It appears that Douglas also occasionally wrote lyrics as well as music: he is reported to have collaborated with Philip Braham, composer of the famous Limehouse Blues. After the Second World War, production music publishers needed a vast amount of original orchestral compositions to service the requirements of radio, films and the emerging television stations around the world: Bosworth (who issued Time For Fun And Games on this CD), Boosey & Hawkes, Charles Brull and Francis Day & Hunter all published a number of his works. During the 1930s Douglas purchased and ran the only bakery in the village of Ticehurst, which he eventually sold and exchanged for a small restaurant in Bexhill-on-Sea. Apart from his music (and his love of cricket) this kept him fully occupied until his death from a sudden heart attack in 1965 at the age of 63.
This collection of Childhood Memories concludes with a major work from Roger Quilter (1877-1953). Born in London and educated at Eton, he has been regarded essentially as a miniaturist, and it is for his songs, particularly his settings of poems by Shakespeare and Herrick, that he is and always will be chiefly remembered. The delicately dancing Children's Overture dates from 1914 and was inspired by a volume of nursery rhymes called ‘Baby's Opera’ and delightfully illustrated by Walter Crane, friend of William Morris and sometime Principal of the Royal College of Art, South Kensington. The tunes are put together with supreme sensitivity and skill, and orchestrated with rare transparency. Sidney Torch must have felt empathy towards this work, because his 1949 recording for Parlophone has long been regarded as the definitive version, and this reissue is surely long overdue.