Reflections of Tranquility

User Rating: 3 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Reflections of Tranquility

1 Shangri-La
(Carl Sigman, Matty Malneck, Robert Maxwell)
Monty Kelly and his Orchestra
2 Starry Night
(Joyce Cochrane)
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon 
3 Deserted City
(David Rose)
David Rose and his Orchestra
4 Primrose Dell
(Cecil Milner)
Harmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans May
5 Lotus Land
(Cyril Scott)
Conducted by Camarata
6 In a Calm
(Robert Farnon)
Robert Farnon and his Orchestra
7 Linden Grove
(Walter Collins)
London Promenade Orchestra conducted by Walter Collins
8 Starlight Rendezvous
(Kenneth Essex)
Louis Voss and his Orchestra
9 Beyond The Next Hill
(Bob Haymes)
Acquaviva and his Orchestra
10 Rippling Waters
(Donald Thorne, arr. Robert Busby)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon
11 Bali H’ai
(Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers)
Monty Kelly and his Orchestra
12 Under the Stars
(Eric Coates)
Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Charles Williams
13 Packet Boat
(Peter Dennis)
Dolf van der Linden and his Orchestra
14 Dreaming
(Archibald Joyce, arr. Sidney Torch)
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
15 Lizard Point
(Charles Williams)
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon
16 La Brilliante
(Bob Haymes)
Acquaviva and his Orchestra
17 Adrift in a Dream
(Angela Morley)
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon
18 Autumn Sunshine
(Reginald King)
London Promenade Orchestra conducted by Walter Collins
19 Moon Magic
(Trevor Duncan)
New Concert Orchestra conducted by Dolf van der Linden
20 A Night of Stars
(Al Hoffman)
Richard Hayman and his Orchestra
21 Rippling Down the Mountain
(Hans May)
Harmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans May
22 How Are Things In Glocca Morra
(E.Y. Harburg, Burton Lane)
Monty Kelly and his Orchestra
23 Mid Ocean
(Robert Farnon)
Danish State Radio Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon
24 Safari (Belle Fenstock)
David Carroll and his Orchestra


Early last year I spent an enjoyable few days relaxing in Cornwall, staying in a charming hotel right on the seafront in a small harbour town – St. Mawes. Music was often played in the hotel lounge, but it didn’t always suit the idyllic scene in the harbour outside. It didn’t help that the hotel only seemed to have two or three CDs, which kept getting repeated! It made me think that there must be many similar situations where people would enjoy relaxing, yet tuneful music that could be appreciated if you listened carefully, but which would not be intrusive if you were doing other things. So I decided that I would try to compile a selection featuring the kind of music I would have liked to have heard during that holiday, and the result is the new Guild CD "Reflections of Tranquility". I should add that it is not essential that you need to be on holiday to enjoy the music: hopefully it will be enjoyed at any time of the day when some peaceful moments seem appropriate.

The opening melody Shangri-La was composed by two talented Americans – harpist Robert Maxwell (b. 1921) and jazz violinist Matty Malneck (1904-1981). Although written in 1946, the tune didn’t attract much attention until Monty Kelly recorded it in 1954, followed by The Four Coins; Robert Maxwell’s own disc – plus a vocal version by The Lettermen – gave it a fresh lease of life a decade later. Maxwell’s biggest hit was Ebb Tide (for which Carl Sigman [1909-2000] also wrote the lyrics), which took Frank Chacksfield to No. 2 in the US charts, an unusual event for an instrumental record. Malneck already had a string of successes to his name, notably Goody Goody, I’m Through With Love and Stairway To The Stars.

Joyce Cochrane composed several popular melodies during the 1940s and 1950s, one of her biggest successes being Honey Child which enjoyed a vocal recording by Gracie Fields as well as an orchestral version arranged by Robert Farnon (on Guild GLCD5104). In 1950 her song You’re Only Dreaming was included in the Ealing film "Dance Hall" which featured the Ted Heath and Geraldo orchestras on screen.

David Rose (1910-1990) was born in London, England, and the family moved to the USA when he was just four-years-old. In 1943 he had a big hit with his own composition Holiday For Strings which firmly launched him as a light music composer in the eyes of the public. By the late '40s he was a regular on Red Skelton's radio show, moving with him into television. He later wrote scores and themes for over 20 television series and won Emmy awards for his 14 year stint on "Bonanza", 10 years with "Little House On The Prairie" and his work on three much-acclaimed Fred Astaire specials. Rose had a worldwide smash hit in 1962 with another of his own tunes, a humorous and satirical piece called The Stripper. He had actually composed this four years previously for a television show called "Burlesque", and it gathered dust on his record company’s shelves until they needed a ‘B’ side for Ebb Tide. A Los Angeles disc jockey picked it up, and the rest – as they say – is musical history.

Cecil Milner was a respected backroom boy in London music circles, arranging for many top orchestras such as Mantovani, for whom he supplied around 220 scores. He was also an accomplished composer, with his works willingly accepted by background music publishers such as Harmonic, who issued Primrose Dell on one of their mood music 78 discs in 1949. In the cinema he worked on the 1938 film "The Lady Vanishes". Cecil Milner’s nephew Timothy Milner is a member of our Society, and we met him at our London meeting last November.

Cyril Scott (1879-1970) was highly praised for his composing talents during the early part of the twentieth century, and was often compared with Vaughan Williams, Arnold Bax, Percy Grainger and Claude Debussy who described him as "…one of the rarest artists of the present generation". George Bernard Shaw apparently once told Elgar that he had become "… quite daring in your harmonies of late", to which Elgar is supposed to have replied: "Yes, but don’t forget it was Scott who started it all". It is therefore somewhat surprising that he is relatively little known today, and the sheer beauty of Lotus Land makes one wish that there were dozens of similar orchestral works still being performed. Scott is reputed to have been an infant prodigy on the piano, and in addition to music (he also lectured and wrote extensively) he displayed a keen interest in poetry and philosophy. Happily he lived long enough to enjoy the respect accorded to his music: in 1969 Chicago Conservatory of Music gave him an Honorary Music Doctorate.

Robert Joseph Farnon (b. 1917) had a distinguished career in Canadian Radio during the 1930s, eventually taking over Percy Faith’s CBC Orchestra when Faith went to the USA in 1940. During World War II, as Captain Robert Farnon, he was posted to Britain in 1944 as conductor of the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, working alongside Glenn Miller and George Melachrino, who fronted the American and British bands. After the war, Farnon remained in Britain where he quickly established himself in radio, records, films and television. His gift for composition resulted in hundreds of his works being accepted for the background music library operated by the London publishers Chappells, and many of his catchy themes (notably Jumping Bean and Portrait of a Flirt) became instantly recognisable worldwide. In his later career he has been in demand to arrange and conduct for major international starts such as Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and George Shearing. His compositions embrace many musical styles, from classical to jazz, but it is perhaps his beautifully crafted light orchestral cameos that have gained him the greatest public acclaim.

Walter R. Collins is remembered for his days as the distinguished Musical Director of the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, and also for conducting the London Promenade Orchestra for the Paxton Recorded Music Library during the 1940s. Earlier, in 1928, his own orchestra was sufficiently well respected to undertake a tour in Germany, and during his long career he was a prolific composer and arranger.

Kenneth Essex (real name Rufus Isaacs) seemed to have a gift of being able to composer numerous bright and frothy numbers, and his works were published by many mood music companies. Some of his other pseudonyms include Derek Dwyer, Howitt Hale and Claude Vane.

Bob Haymes (b. 1922) appeared as an actor in films during the 1930s and 1940s, and he also had a famous older brother – the singer Dick Haymes. Bob dabbled in songwriting, his biggest hit being That’s All. Clearly he was also adept at light music, and the American conductor Nicolas Acquaviva recorded several of his works.

Donald James DeanThorne (1901-1967) spent his early musical career as a pianist for dances at the Savoy, Berkeley and Claridges hotels in London, as well as providing arrangements of popular tunes to leading bands such as Jack Hylton, Henry Hall, Jack Payne, Roy Fox, Debroy Somers and Carroll Gibbons. In 1934 he joined Granada Theatres at Tooting and Maidstone as a theatre organist, and thereafter spent much of his time at various venues on the circuit. Following war service he continued playing on electronic organs, one of his prestige bookings being aboard RMS Queen Mary. Rippling Waters was chosen by the BBC as one of its interludes in the early days of television (fish in an aquarium), but his other compositions (including a suite "Lights of London") are rarely heard. He wrote a few pieces for military band, and also composed under the pseudonyms Eric Denville and August Leserve.

Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) really needs no introduction to music lovers. As one of America’s foremost composers of the 20th century, his music ranges from top musicals such as Carousel and The Sound Of Music, to highly regarded documentaries like NBC Television’s "Victory At Sea".

Eric Coates (1886-1957) was a successful composer of ballads in the early years of the last century, before devoting all his energies to light music. He was particularly adept at writing catchy melodies that appealed as BBC signatures tunes, the most famous being Knightsbridge from "London Suite" (used as the opening and closing music for "In Town Tonight"), By The Sleepy Lagoon ("Desert Island Discs") and Calling All Workers ("Music While You Work"). In 1954 he provided the memorable march for the war film "The Dam Busters", and his vast body of work is still attracting the attention of the new generation of conductors, resulting in welcome performances in the concert hall and on disc.

Peter Dennis hides the true identity of Dennis Alfred Berry, who also composed (sometimes in collaboration with others) under names such as Frank Sterling, Charles Kenbury and Michael Rodney. For part of the 1950s he ran the Paxton library, but also contributed titles to other publishers. Eventually he formed his own companies Berry Music and the Conroy Recorded Music Library, now part of KPM Music.

Archibald Joyce (1873-1963) learned the piano and violin as a child, and much of his life as a professional musician involved playing in ballrooms, theatres and the concert hall, especially before and after the First World War. Indeed his own orchestra was held in such high esteem that it played for Royalty and at major state occasions, and through his many compositions Joyce became known as ‘The English Waltz King’. He was also adept at writing marches, no doubt partly due to the influence of his father, who was a band sergeant with the Grenadier Guards. Unlike his contemporaries Eric Coates and Haydn Wood, Archibald Joyce did not allow his composing style to move with the times, preferring instead to believe that his music was intended for dancing, rather than listening. The millions who recognise his melody Dreaming (even if they do not know the name) would surely disagree.

Charles Williams(real name Isaac Cozerbreit, 1893-1978) began his career accompanying silent films, then played violin under the batons of Beecham and Elgar. Right from the start of the ‘talkies’, he provided scores for numerous British films, and his Dream Of Olwen is still remembered long after the film in which it appeared – "While I Live". In 1960 he topped the American charts with his theme for the film "The Apartment", although in reality the producers had resurrected one of his earlier works Jealous Lover which originally came from a rarely-seen 1949 British movie "The Romantic Age". By far the greatest volume of his composing skills was employed in mood music, providing hundreds of varied works for the London publishers Chappells alone, including the evocative Lizard Point.

Angela Morley (b. 1924) originally played alto sax with bands such as Geraldo (under her former name, Wally Stott), and her orchestra was an essential ingredient in the overwhelming success of BBC Radio’s "Goon Show" starring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. The positive reaction to her distinctive arrangements encouraged her to start composing, and one of her first was A Canadian In Mayfair dedicated to Robert Farnon. She recalls that it was just intended as a piece of fun, but Farnon insisted that it should be shown to his publishers, Chappells, who added it to their mood music library – appropriately conducted by Farnon himself.

Angela quickly developed her own distinctive style which has won her so much praise, and numerous light pieces have since flowed from her pen. In her later career she has been much in demand for film scores, and has also assisted leading composers on major projects – working with John Williams on "Star Wars" being a prime example.

Reginald Claude McMahon King (1904-1991) was an accomplished pianist, who performed under the baton of Sir Henry Wood at the Proms soon after he completed his studies at London’s Royal Academy. In 1927 he took an orchestra into Swan & Edgar’s restaurant at their Piccadilly Circus store, where they remained until 1939. During this period he also started broadcasting regularly, and he made numerous recordings, often featuring his own attractive compositions. He made his last broadcast in 1964, but during a long retirement he continued composing until shortly before his death. One of his major works, the concert overture The Immortals, was featured on Guild GLCD5106 spotlighting music of the 1930s.

Trevor Duncan (real name Leonard Trebilco, b. 1924) was working as a BBC sound engineer when one of his first compositions, High Heels, made the light music world sit up and take notice. Eventually his successful and prolific output mushroomed to such an extent that he had to give up his ‘day job’ at the BBC, and also find several different publishers simply because he was writing too much for just one to handle. Girl From Corsica and his March from "A Little Suite" (used as the theme for BBC TV’s "Dr. Finlay’s Casebook") were two more big hits with the public, but a vast amount of his work still remains undiscovered, and Moon Magic is just one such piece.

American pop composer Al Hoffman (1902-1960) wrote hit songs and scores for Broadway and Hollywood from the 1930s until he died. His early hits included Heartaches, I Apologize, Auf Wiedersehen My Dear, I'm in a Dancing Mood and I Saw Stars. Hoffman came to England in 1934 to write for the stage and cinema, staying until 1937. He collaborated with Mack David on the score of Disney's "Cinderella" (1949).

Hans May (real name Johann Mayer, d.1959) was a Viennese-born composer and music director who devoted much of his musical life to composing for the screen and stage. Initially he worked in the German film industry, but in 1935 relocated to France, before eventually settling in England in 1937. His numerous films included scores for the Boulting Brothers, Gainsborough Films and the Rank Organisation, and he conducted numerous 78s for the Harmonic Music Library which was established in the mid-1940s. In his later career he concentrated more on stage productions, including "Carissima" in collaboration with Eric Maschwitz.

American composer Burton Lane (real name Burton Levy, 1912-1997) wrote numerous hit songs for Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies. In 1934 he is supposed to have discovered 11-year-old Frances Gumm, who later changed her name to Judy Garland.

The final track in this collection features Safari by the American Belle Fenstock (b. 1914). Her best-known number Simonetta was very popular during the 1950s, with recordings by several top orchestras, and Richard Hayman’s version appears on Guild GLCD5111 – "The 1950’s Volume 2".

David Ades

Submit to Facebook