Frank Tapp

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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.


Of Tapp’s single movements, most substantial is the overture Beachy Head, one of several maritime ones in the English repertory; others include the entr’acte A Wayside MelodyWoodland Echoes (for Bosworth, as was Land of Fancy) and the library miniature, yet again for Bosworth, Fighter Command(1942), cheerful and encouraging rather than heroic – and thus, though similar in subject, a good contrast with the almost contemporary Spitfire Prelude by Sir William Walton. Tapp was not of course, a purely orchestral composer. His Waltz Idyll a la Viennoise (1938) was published for piano solo and examples of his song output were The Green Lanes of England and, from 1934, Highgate Hill.

Philip Scowcroft

This biography first appeared in ‘Journal Into Melody’, December 2010.

Two compositions by Frank Tapp are available on Guild Music’s ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ CDs:

GLCD5107 Beachy Head Overture
GLCD5164 Fighter Command

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