British Light Music

Famous for its harmonically unchallenging, smooth and entertaining melodic lines, BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC grew from the indulgent and sentimental music of the 19th Century, from composers such as Arthur Sullivan, to become one of the most popular classical musical styles in Britain during the first half of the 20th Century. British Light Music is often referred to as easy listening and usually instantly recognisable. Whilst the genre may not advocate ground-breaking compositional techniques, it is not always limited to its convivial facade, sometimes parodying more serious classical music through citation of theme and motif.

British Light Music is, for the most part, a form of programme music, with each piece designed to represent a mood, object, place or event. It was this quality, which made it ideal for broadcast throughout the heyday of radio, leading to the introduction of The BBC Light Programme in 1945, and during the advent of television, where British Light Music featured as the introduction to many early programmes. It was, in fact, these two mediums, which facilitated its success.

The genre’s popularity was complemented by its use in film; notably, and amongst many others, in the 1939 version of Goodbye Mr Chips with the soundtrack by Richard Addinsell, and the 1955 World War II classic The Dam Busters, which featured the famous “Dam Busters’ March” by Eric Coates. Although the style has declined since the early 1960s, its use in film has contributed greatly to its longevity.

Famous British Light Music composers include Ernest Tomlinson, Edward German, Haydn Wood, Richard Addinsell and Eric Coates, the last of whom is described as the ‘father’ or ‘king’ of British Light Music.


Album Title Catalogue No.
Addinsell: Goodbye Mr. Chips - A Tale of Two Cities 8.223732
Addinsell: Goodbye Mr. Chips - A Tale of Two Cities 8.555229
Binge: Elizabethan Serenade - Scottish Rhapsody 8.555190
Binge: The Watermill - Scottish Rhapsody 8.223515
British Light Music 8.223425
Coates: Sleepy Lagoon & Other Orchestral Works 8.223521
Coates: Springtime Suite - Four Ways Suite - Saxo-Rhapsody 8.555194
Coates: The Dam Busters & Other Orchestral Works 8.223445
Coleridge-Taylor: Hiawatha Overture - Petite Suite 8.555191
Coleridge-Taylor: Hiawatha Overture & Other Orchestral Works 8.223516
Curzon: In Malaga - Robin Hood Suite - Punchinello 8.555172
Docker: 3 Contrasts - Scènes de Ballet - Pastiche Variations 8.574322
Docker: Legend - Tabarinage - Pastiche Variations 8.223837
Duncan: 20th Century Express - A Little Suite 8.555192
Duncan: 20th Century Express & Other Orchestral Works 8.223517
E. Coates: British Light Music 8.555178
Farnon: Westminster Waltz - Colditz March - State Occasion 8.574323
Farnon: Westminster Waltz - Colditz March - State Occasion 8.223401
German: Merrie England Suite - Nell Gwyn - Gipsy Suite 8.555171
German: Nell Gwyn, Gipsy Suite & Henry VIII 8.223419
Goodwin: 633 Squadron & Other Orchestral Works 8.223518
Goodwin: Drake 400 Suite - 633 Squadron: Theme - Arabian Celebration - New Zealand Suite 8.555193
Hedges: 4 Breton Sketches - Cantilena - Scenes from the Humber - Kingston Sketches 8.223886
Hedges: Kingston Sketches - 4 Breton Sketches 8.574324
Joyce: Toto - Dreams of You - A Thousand Kisses - Caravan Suite - Acushla 8.223694
Ketèlbey: In a Monastery Garden, Chal Romano & Other Orchestral Works 8.223442
Lane: Sleighbell Serenade - Prestbury Park - Cotswold Dances - Diversions on a Theme of Paganini 8.225185
Lyon: Horn Concerto, Fairytale Suite, Farnham Suite & Ballet for Orchestra 8.225039
Mayerl: Aquarium Suite / 4 Aces Suite 8.223514
Miniatures 8.223522
Quilter: Where the Rainbow Ends & Other Orchestral Works 8.223444
Reynolds: Alice Through the Looking Glass Suite 8.225184
Tomlinson: First Suite of English Folk-Dances 8.223513
Tomlinson: Silverthorn Suite & Other Orchestral Works 8.223413
Torch: London Transport Suite & Other Orchestral Works 8.223443
Welsh Classical Favourites 8.225048
Whitlock: Holiday Suite - Music for Orchestra - Wessex Suite 8.225162
Wood: Sketch of a Dandy, London Cameos & Other Orchestral Works 8.223402
Worland: Tres Senoritas - Shopping Spree 8.225161