Episode 1 of 2
Sir Michael Parkinson introduces the first of two programmes telling the story of light music, from its beginnings in the compositions of classical composers to its growth as a form in its own right.
He looks at the writing of Sir Arthur Sullivan, Albert Ketelby, Frederick Curzon, Haydn Wood and many more, including Sir Edward Elgar, who was a great admirer of one of the form's foremost exponents, Eric Coates. David Ades tells how Elgar had a permanent order with his local record shop for every new Coates recording; and John Wilson relates how on one performance of a Coates Suite, Elgar was not content to sit among the audience but joined the percussion and was seen to beat time vigorously in the syncopated passages!
We hear how the great light music practitioners learnt and borrowed from classical composers like Schubert, Grieg and others and how, later, the classical world "borrowed back" some of the genre. Walton, for instance, whose Façade gave a licence to light music composers to enjoy all the whimsical and eccentric possibilities of the form.
Michael explores the reasons for light music's growth: in Victorian salons, on Edwardian seaside bandstands and in hotel ballrooms and restaurants. We hear from Eric Coates how he composed his London Suite from which came the famous Knightsbridge March and we get in-depth analysis from experts David Ades, Russell Davies and John Wilson, who also describe the growth of library music.
The programme takes us to the beginning of the genre's heyday with radio at its height, the Golden Age of cinema and the start of televison. It concludes with a taste of the famous radio theme tunes as Vivian Ellis describes how Alpine Pastures (the sig for My Word and Coronation Scot) were created.
This series first broadcast on Radio 2 in February 2012.
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