Lionel Monckton

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b. John Lionel Alexander Monckton, 18 December 1861, London, England, d. 15 September 1924, London, England. The son of Sir John and Lady Monckton, Lionel planned a career in the law but began writing…
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b. John Lionel Alexander Monckton, 18 December 1861, London, England, d. 15 September 1924, London, England. The son of Sir John and Lady Monckton, Lionel planned a career in the law but began writing music while at Oxford University. Some success came with contributions to West End shows such as Cinder-Ellen Up-Too-Late (1891) for which he wrote ‘What Will You Have To Drink?’, in collaboration with Basil Hood, and Don Juan (1893), ‘Some Do It This Way’, with Horace Lennard. Encouraged by producer George Edwardes, he wrote more songs for shows, later composing entire scores. Many of the shows were staged at London’s Gaiety Theatre and enjoyed considerable success. Early productions included The Shop Girl (1894) and The Geisha (1896), before Monckton hit his stride with The Circus Girl (1896), on which he collaborated with Ivan Caryll. Other shows, some with Caryll and some with Adrian Ross, Howard Talbot, Paul Rubens, Hood and others, includeA Runaway Girl (1898), The Messenger Boy (1900), The Toreador (1901), Kitty Grey (1901), A Country Girl (1902), The Orchid (1903), The Spring Chicken (1905), The Girls Of Gottenberg (1907), Our Miss Gibbs (1909), The Arcadians (1909), The Quaker Girl (1910), The Mousmé (1911), and The Dancing Mistress (1912).

Although many of these shows were great successes, it was The Arcadians that stood out, not merely as the best of the Monckton scores, but as the archetype of the Edwardian musical. Songs, with Talbot, included ‘The Pipes Of Pan’, ‘The Girl With The Brogue’ and ‘All Down Piccadilly’. Similarly successful was The Quaker Girl. Its songs, including ‘The Quaker Girl’ and ‘Come To The Ball’, were hugely popular and, as with The Arcadians, sheet music sales were massive. Although some shows were also produced on Broadway, Monckton remained most closely linked to London’s West End where many of his shows starred Gertie Millar who was for a while his wife. Towards the end of World War I, another show was staged; this was The Boy (1917), with Talbot and Ross, and was fairly successful. Following the end of the war, changes took place in public taste and the nature of the shows they wanted to see altered. In particular, the music was new as different styles began filtering over from the USA. Although he wrote for some revues, Monckton chose not to adapt his own successful style, instead opting for comfortable retirement.