Light Music While You Work – Volume 2

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Light Music While You Work – Volume 2

1 Calling All Workers – excerpt (Eric Coates)
ERIC COATES and SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
2 Marche Lorraine (Louis Ganne)
LONDON COLISEUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by REGINALD BURSTON
3 "The Dancing Years" – Selection from show (1939) (Ivor Novello)
HARRY FRYER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
4 The Floral Dance (Katy Moss)
HARRY DAVIDSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
5 Sleeping Beauty Waltz (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)
RICHARD CREAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
6 Pierrot Comes To Town (Sherman Myers, real name Montague Ewing)
HAROLD COLLINS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
7 Lehar In The Ballroom (Franz Lehar)
WYNFORD REYNOLDS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
8 Toy Trumpet (Raymond Scott)
REGINALD PURSGLOVE AND HIS ORCHESTRA
9 Girl Crazy – Selection (George Gershwin)
STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by PHIL GREEN
10 Die Fledermaus – Waltz (Johann Strauss, arr. Ronnie Munro)
RONNIE MUNRO AND HIS SCOTTISH VARIETY ORCHESTRA
11 Theatreland (Jack Strachey)
HARRY FRYER AND HIS ORCHESTRA
12 Sizilietta (Franz Von Blon)
DAVID JAVA AND HIS ORCHESTRA
13 Castles In Spain (Charles W. Ancliffe)
LONDON COLISEUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by REGINALD BURSTON
14 One Exciting Night – Selection from film (1944) (Georges Boulanger and others)
PHIL GREEN AND HIS THEATRELAND ORCHESTRA
15 Fashionette (Jack Glogan, Robert A. King)
HAROLD COLLINS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
16 Moment Musical (Franz Peter Schubert)
RICHARD CREAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
17 Scarlet And Gold (Lloyd Thomas)
LONDON COLISEUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by REGINALD BURSTON
18 Softly Unawares (Paul Lincke)
HARRY DAVIDSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
19 Journey To A Star; No Love No Nothing (both by Harry Warren, Leo Robin)
STUDIO ORCHESTRA Conducted by PHIL GREEN
20 Emperor Waltz (Johann Strauss, arr. Ronnie Munro)
RONNIE MUNRO AND HIS WALTZ ORCHESTRA
21 Butterflies In The Rain (Sherman Myers, real name Montague Ewing)
HAROLD COLLINS AND HIS ORCHESTRA
22 Bal Masque (from Two Parisian Sketches) (Percy Fletcher)
RICHARD CREAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA
23 With Sword And Lance (Lance Starke)
LONDON COLISEUM ORCHESTRA Conducted by REGINALD BURSTON
24 Turkey In The Straw (Trad. arr. Harry Davidson)
HARRY DAVIDSON AND HIS ORCHESTRA
25 Lady In The Dark – Selection from show (1941) also film (1944) (Kurt Weill, Ira Gershwin))
PHIL GREEN AND HIS THEATRELAND ORCHESTRA
26 Calling All Workers – excerpt (Eric Coates)
ERIC COATES AND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA


GUILD GLCD5137

The enthusiastic response to Guild’s first dip into the catalogue of music recorded in the 1940s for Decca’s Music While You Work label (on Guild GLCD 5128) has meant that a second volume simply had to follow. This time there are some new names, but the general concept follows the pattern that was fully explained in the booklet notes for the earlier collection.

In summary, the title ‘Music While You Work’ was the name of a BBC radio programme that was first broadcast at 10.30am on Sunday 23 June 1940. It soon became something of an institution in British broadcasting, where it was to remain in the schedules for an unbroken run of 27 years. It was resurrected for short runs in the 1980s and 1990s before the very last broadcast was heard in 1995.

The man credited with the original idea – and its successful implementation – was Wynford Reynolds (1899-1958). ‘Live’ musicians were usually engaged for the programme, ranging from solo performers such as organists, to small groups, dance bands, light orchestras and military bands. The shows were aimed at factory workers during the Second World War, and it was hoped that the choice of music would relieve the boredom of many repetitive tasks and thus assist productivity.

However the factories soon realised that they needed to provide such music throughout the day, and gramophone records were the obvious answer to fill those periods when suitable music was not being broadcast by the BBC.

Someone at Decca proposed that a special series of 78s would suit this purpose admirably and their own "Music While You Work" label was born; sensibly they sought Wynford Reynolds’ advice from the outset, and he even made some of the 78s with his own orchestra. These were not intended to be an accurate carbon copy of the BBC broadcasts, and the orchestras on the Decca records (mostly their contract artists) did not necessarily also perform on the radio. But they did succeed in conveying the ‘feel’ of the programme and have provided a fascinating subject for collectors to study over the years.

The signature tune chosen by the BBC was Calling All Workers composed by Eric Coates (1886-1957). By this time he was recognised as possibly England’s greatest living composer of light music, and he acquired the knack of writing catchy, memorable tunes that were ideal as introductions to regular programmes on radio and later television. His Knightsbridge March introduced "In Town Tonight" from 1933 to 1960, and towards the end of his life Coates composed the famous march for the film "The Dam Busters" (1954). Calling All Workers was written in 1940 at the request of his wife, Phyllis, who was working in the Red Cross making wartime medical supplies. She wanted a march to which she and her companions could work, which his biographer says inspired Eric to incorporate sewing machine patterns in his music. After the programme had been running for three months without a signature tune, in October 1940 it was adopted by the BBC for "Music While You Work" and achieved universal popularity. In the first Guild volume devoted to this music we included this work in full by an excellent Danish orchestra; on this occasion it is abridged and, although it is readily available in its complete original version elsewhere, in tribute to the composer we have used his own recording from 1940.

This time several contributors to Decca’s MWYW series – missing from volume 1 – have been included, notably Reginald Burston with the London Coliseum Orchestra, Harold Collins, David Java and the man credited with coming up with the idea in the first place, Wynford Reynolds.

Considering his musical background, it is likely that Wynford Hubert Reynolds (1899-1958) had little problem in persuading the BBC that he had the necessary knowledge to launch "Music While You Work". He was already on the staff of the BBC as a producer, although he was also an experienced performer. He was born in Ebbw Vale, Wales, and his early musical training at the Royal Academy of Music concentrated on the violin, viola and composition. Like many of his fellow musicians, he provided music for silent films, and eventually joined the Queen’s Hall Orchestra under its illustrious conductor (and founder of London’s Promenade Concerts) Sir Henry Wood.

Reynolds became involved with the early days of radio in the 1920s, and it wasn’t long before he formed his own orchestra for concerts (including engagements at seaside venues) and broadcasts. In 1941 the BBC gave him the important-sounding title ‘Music While You Work Organiser’ but, due to the strict rules imposed by the Corporation on its own employees, this prevented him from appearing with his orchestra in the programmes. He left this position in 1944, and went back to performing on radio, not only in "Music While You Work" but also, later, in popular shows such as "Bright and Early" and "Morning Music". Happily the recordings he made for Decca’s MWYW series are evidence of the high quality of his music, although his influence extended far beyond those 78s bearing his own orchestra’s name: he produced the majority of around 420 discs that were issued before the series ended with the final releases in January 1947.

The London Coliseum (also known as the Coliseum Theatre) was built in St. Martin’s Lane by the famous theatre impresario and architect, Oswald Stoll, and it opened for its first performance on 24 December 1904. Since then it has undergone changes of name, various refurbishments and different kinds of productions, ranging from variety and operetta to ballet and opera – it is now the home of English National Opera. Reginald Burston (d. 1968) was an experienced musical director who was regularly employed in various London theatres ranging from D’Oyly Carte Opera to prestigious Noel Coward productions and lavish post-war American musicals. In the mid-1930s he conducted the BBC Midland Orchestra, then in 1936 he took over the baton of the BBC Revue Orchestra for several years.

Like Reginald Burston, Harold Collins (c.1900 - c.1971) arold Collins, David Java

at one time was MD at the London Coliseum, although he also held positions at various provincial theatres. Originally a pianist, it seems he gave his first broadcast from Plymouth in 1936 where he was resident conductor at the Palace Theatre, and was hired by the BBC for "Music While You Work" soon after the programme was launched. In total he appeared in 227 programmes with his Orchestra, and he also made a good number of records for Decca’s MWYW series, usually with a smaller ensemble in a style that suited the light repertoire that was his speciality – his three tracks in this collection are ideal examples. In later years he was heard in BBC shows "Morning Music" and "Melody On The Move", and through his work with Norman Wisdom he appeared on ITV’s top Sunday evening shows from the London Palladium and the Prince of Wales Theatre.

David Java only made one record for Decca’s MWYW series, and his career is poorly documented. In 1938 he played violin alongside Sidney Sax on several Victor Silvester recordings for Parlophone, and again on some Columbia recordings in 1941 when Oscar Grasso, Alfredo Campoli, Reginald Kilbey and Eugene Pini were among the distinguished violin players whom Silvester employed. After the war David Java supplied orchestras for Lyons’ Corner House restaurant and presumably other similar venues.

Harry Davidson (1892-1967) enjoyed two successful, and different, careers before and following the Second World War. After various engagements around London and the north-east of England spanning the years 1914 to 1929, he finally secured the highly prestigious appointment as organist at the newly built Commodore Theatre at Hammersmith in London. The Commodore had a fine 18-piece orchestra conducted by Joseph Muscant (1899-1983) and by the early 1930s it had acquired a loyal national following for its regular broadcasts. After five years Muscant left to take over the Troxy Broadcasting Orchestra and, in July 1934, Harry Davidson stepped into his shoes. (Recordings by both the Commodore and Troxy orchestras may be found on previous Guild Light Music CDs). Although the Commodore orchestra was disbanded during the war, Davidson managed to keep many of his superb musicians together and soon he was broadcasting regularly, notching up no less than 109 editions of "Music While You Work". To correct an error which crept into the notes to the previous volume in this series, it should be pointed out that Harry Davidson achieved this impressive total between 1940 and 1946, not during the programme’s first year. In November 1943 his series "Those Were The Days" appeared for the first time, providing listeners at home with a regular helping of melodious old-time dance music. It became a permanent fixture in the schedules with Harry in charge until ill-health forced him to retire in November 1965. It is also appropriate to mention that he was an extremely prolific recording artist; during the 1950s 78s by his orchestra often occupied almost four pages in EMI Columbia’s annual catalogues.

The other orchestras included on this CD were also featured in the previous Guild MWYW collection, and they were each profiled in the booklet notes. On this occasion, they have had to take a back seat in favour of the ‘new boys’.

 

Partly through lack of space, 78 record labels sometimes omitted details of the contents of selections, and even composers occasionally became anonymous. If you were lucky, missing information like this might have been gleaned from contemporary record catalogues, but today it is often left to admirers of the last century’s popular music to attempt to supply the names of those elusive song titles. The following list reveals some of the music to be heard in this collection.

"The Dancing Years" Lorelei, My Life Belongs To You, Leap Year Waltz, I Can Give You The Starlight, Waltz Of My Heart.

"Lehar In The Ballroom" Gold And Silver, Count Of Luxembourg, Merry Widow Waltz.

"Girl Crazy" But Not For Me, Embraceable You, Bidin’ My Time.

"One Exciting Night" One Love, There’s A New World Over The Sky Line, My Prayer, It’s Like Old Times.

"Lady In The Dark" Girl Of The Moment, This Is New, Suddenly It’s Spring, Saga Of Jenny, My Ship.

LIGHT MUSIC CDs – JUNE

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