Sunday, 7 April 2013

Frank Tapp: Beachy Head Overture


There is a lot of history about Beachy Head. This wonderful landmark is situated near to the holiday resort of Eastbourne in Sussex. The cliffs have the honour of being the highest chalk cliffs in the country. I do not believe that Frank Tapp’s music has anything to do with military matters; however the Battle of Portland in 1653 during the Anglo-Dutch War was fought off this point. During the Second World War there were a number of installations on cliffs that survived into the Cold War era.  On the other hand, what I think that Tapp is suggesting is the mood of the holiday maker to either enjoy the view or to the coastal hamlet of Birling Gap with its steps down to the sea. The romantic theme may be indicative of lovers having afternoon tea before returning to the lights of London or Eastbourne.
Beachy Head Overture opens with a moody horn call followed by soft strings that has an almost Delius-like effect. This is dawn looking out across the English Channel –just before the visitors arrive by train from The Smoke. However the music soon moves into a more typical ‘light music’ style with rushing strings, perhaps suggesting the surging of the sea. However the second theme of this overture is a romantic song worthy of the likes of Henry Mancini and Frank Chacksfield. The basic ternary form of this overture is satisfied by the return of the fast music. I guess that the visitors are leaving with happy memories and Beach Head is left in peace.
Once again this piece of music suggests that Frank Tapp (1883-1953) is a composer worthy of investigation.  Alas he has not made it to an entry in the revised edition of the British Music Society’s revised edition of British Composer Profiles.  Tapp did produce a Symphony and a deal of other music including a once popular set of variations on the tune ‘Pop goes the Weasel.’  With Rob Barnett’s permission I published a brief account of Tapp’s life and works on my blog.  The Beachy Head overture can be heard on Guild Light Music GLCD5107. Although there is nothing wrong with this 1940’s Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra recording, there is surely a case to be made for a modern version, along with some of Tapp’s other music. 

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