Hyperion Records

Monckton, Lionel (1861-1924)  

Lionel Monckton

born: 18 December 1861
died: 15 February 1924
country: United Kingdom

Lionel Monckton was among the very finest British melodists, ranking as such with the likes of Arthur Sullivan, Eric Coates and Ivor Novello. His music encapsulates the gaiety of the Edwardian age, and it is our great loss that we hear so little of it these days.

Born John Lionel Alexander Monckton in London on 18 December 1861, he was the eldest son of Sir John Braddick Monckton, Town Clerk of London, and his wife Maria Louisa, née Long, who later appeared on the London stage as Lady Monckton. Lionel was educated at Charterhouse School and Oriel College, Oxford, and he played a prominent part in the founding of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. He followed his father into the legal profession but simultaneously dabbled in music and theatre criticism. Theatrical interests finally took over, though he was already thirty when he had his first number sung on the West End stage and thirty-three before he really established himself as a song composer for the Gaiety Theatre.

The Gaiety productions were inconsequential pieces—not far removed from variety shows, with a rudimentary plot, pretty chorus girls, and catchy tunes. Compared with the burlesques of familiar stories that had previously held the stage there, they featured contemporary settings, fashionable dresses, exotic locations and a younger generation of performers and writers. The audiences of the day loved them, and runs of a year or two (exceptional elsewhere) became the norm. It helped that a show would periodically go into a ‘new edition’ with new numbers to make return visits more worthwhile. In days before radio and television, and when recording and film were in their infancy, the appeal was akin to that of the television soap operas of today.

Initially Monckton contributed just a few interpolated numbers for the Gaiety to scores largely by Ivan Caryll (1861–1921). However, Monckton’s always proved the big hit numbers, and soon he achieved increased contribution and equal billing. His importance rose still further when he discovered a future star for the Gaiety in Bradford-born Gertie Millar (1879–1952), whom he married in the autumn of 1902.

The run of Caryll and Monckton shows at the Gaiety ran almost without interruption from 1894 until 1910. Meanwhile his superiority of invention also led to him succeeding Sidney Jones (1861–1946) as principal composer for two shows at Daly’s Theatre in 1902 and 1904. Those Daly’s shows were more romantic, structurally more robust, and musically more ambitious. Then, with the Gaiety series coming to an end, Monckton teamed up with Howard Talbot (1865–1928) on a couple of musicals at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1909 and 1911. Most completely his own were two he composed for the Adelphi Theatre in 1910 and 1912, with his wife as lead.

Monckton was an austere-looking individual—very much at odds with the image of his music. Like most theatre composers of his time he used specialist orchestrators to bring his scores to completion. He was, though, often his own lyricist—either in collaboration, alone under his own name, or (for some early songs) under the pseudonym ‘Leslie Mayne’.

American ragtime influences had made his style outdated by the time of his death in London on 15 February 1924 at the age of sixty-two. Afterwards Gertie Millar herself joined the aristocracy when she married the Earl of Dudley.

Monckton’s music remained much played in Britain until after the Second World War. Then it increasingly became obscured by the taste for American musicals and pop music. His wonderful melodies, though, are surely timeless, and their lyrics remain enjoyable for their period naivety and innocence. A world brightened by Monckton’s music is surely an altogether happier place.

from notes by Andrew Lamb

'Monckton: Songs from the shows' (CDA67654)
Monckton: Songs from the shows
'British Light Music Classics' (CDS44261/4)
British Light Music Classics
MP3 £20.00FLAC £20.00ALAC £20.00Buy by post £22.00 CDS44261/4  4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'British Light Music Classics, Vol. 3' (CDA67148)
British Light Music Classics, Vol. 3
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67148  Archive Service; also available on CDS44261/4   Download currently discounted
'Jones: The Geisha' (CDH55245)
Jones: The Geisha
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55245  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'London Pride' (CDA67457)
London Pride
Complete works available for download
Chalk Farm to Camberwell Green Catherine Bott (soprano), David Owen Norris (piano)
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
A bad boy and a good girl  No 6 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
A Country Girl (Monckton)
A Runaway Girl (Monckton)
A simple little string  No 18 of The Circus Girl (Monckton)
All along the garden where the moonbeams glance  First line to Tony, from America, No 22 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
All down Piccadilly  No 20 of The Arcadians (Monckton)
Beautiful bountiful Bertie  No 20 of The Shop Girl (Monckton)
Beyond the bar of fair Manaar  First line to Pearl of sweet Ceylon, No 3 of The Cingalee (Monckton)
Chalk Farm to Camberwell Green (Monckton)
Charming weather  No 16 of The Arcadians (Monckton)
I was a baby not so very long ago  First line to A simple little string, No 18 of The Circus Girl (Monckton)
I went to sea as bold as A B  First line to Yo ho, little girls, yo ho!, No 5 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
If girls and boys were asked what joys  First line to The sly cigarette, No 2 of A Runaway Girl (Monckton)
I'm a little Yorkshire lass  First line to Mary, No 7 of Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton)
I'm what folks call a 'Johnnie', of the title I'm proud  First line to Beautiful bountiful Bertie, No 20 of The Shop Girl (Monckton)
In my happy childhood hours  First line to My cinnamon tree, No 12 of The Cingalee (Monckton)
Johnnie came from London town  First line to Try again, Johnnie, No 2 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
Keep off the grass  No 22 of The Toreador (Monckton)
Life is a milliner's show  First line to The little grey bonnet, No 27 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
Liza Ann  No 16 of The Orchid (Monckton)
Maisie  No 18 of The Messenger Boy (Monckton)
Mary  No 7 of Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton)
Moon, Moon, mischief-making Moon!  First line to Moonstruck, No 20 of Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton)
Moonstruck  No 20 of Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton)
My cinnamon tree  No 12 of The Cingalee (Monckton)
Oh, when I marry my blushing bride  First line to When I marry Amelia, No 18 of The Toreador (Monckton)
Once in the window of a ham and beef shop  First line to Two little sausages, No 20 of The Girls of Gottenberg (Monckton)
Once there dwelt a little maiden  First line to The Temple Bell, No 21 of The Mousmé (Monckton)
Our Miss Gibbs (Monckton)
Over the mountain passes  First line to Under the deodar, No 11 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
Pearl of sweet Ceylon  No 3 of The Cingalee (Monckton)
The Arcadians (Monckton)
The boy guessed right  No 18 of A Runaway Girl (Monckton)
The Cingalee (Monckton)
The Circus Girl (Monckton)
The Geisha (Monckton)
The Girls of Gottenberg (Monckton)
The little grey bonnet  No 27 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
The Messenger Boy (Monckton)
The Mousmé (Monckton)
The Orchid (Monckton)
The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
The Runaway Girl (Monckton/Kiefert)
The Shop Girl (Monckton)
The sly cigarette  No 2 of A Runaway Girl (Monckton)
The Temple Bell  No 21 of The Mousmé (Monckton)
The Toreador (Monckton)
There once was a little boy who went to school  First line to The boy guessed right, No 18 of A Runaway Girl (Monckton)
There's a girl you may have met  First line to Maisie, No 18 of The Messenger Boy (Monckton)
There's a Yorkshire town, very bleak and brown  First line to Liza Ann, No 16 of The Orchid (Monckton)
Tony, from America  No 22 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
Try again, Johnnie  No 2 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
Two little sausages  No 20 of The Girls of Gottenberg (Monckton)
Under the deodar  No 11 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
When a bad, bad boy like me  First line to A bad boy and a good girl, No 6 of The Quaker Girl (Monckton)
When I marry Amelia  No 18 of The Toreador (Monckton)
When the children go to play  First line to Keep off the grass, No 22 of The Toreador (Monckton)
Yo ho, little girls, yo ho!  No 5 of A Country Girl (Monckton)
You're taking such good care of me  First line to Charming weather, No 16 of The Arcadians (Monckton)
You've heard of me, of course  First line to All down Piccadilly, No 20 of The Arcadians (Monckton)
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