Lionel John Alexander Monckton (December 18, 1861 - September 15, 1924) was a British writer and composer of musical theatre. He was Britain's most popular musical theatre composer of the early years of the Twentieth Century.
Life and career
Lionel Monckton was the son of London town clerk, Sir John Monckton, and Lady Monckton, an amateur actress. He was educated at Charterhouse School and at Oxford University, where he composed music for amateur productions. He initially joined the legal profession, but gained part-time work as a theatre and music critic, first for the Pall Mall Gazette and, later for the Daily Telegraph. At the age of 30, in 1891, he finally managed to place a song in a professional musical show co-written with lyricist Basil Hood.
Contributor to musicals
Monckton soon became a regular composer (and sometimes lyricist) of songs for the musical comedies performed at London's Gaiety theatre, under the management of George Edwardes, which premiered throughout the 1890s and into the first decade of the 20th Century. Among others, he wrote half of the music for Arthur Roberts's burlesque Claude Du-Val (1894) and supplemented Ivan Caryll's score for The Shop Girl in the same year, with such successful pieces as George Grossmith's "Beautiful Bountiful Bertie" and "Brown of Colorado" (with Adrian Ross), for The Circus Girl in 1896 ("A Simple Little String" and "The Way to Treat a Lady") and for A Runaway Girl in 1898 ("Soldiers in the Park", "Society", "The Sly Cigarette", "The Boy Guessed Right" and "Not the Sort of Girl I Care About").
During this period he married Gertie Millar, one of the theatre's most successful actresses, who starred in many of Monckton's shows. The "Girl" musicals were followed by a number of "Boy" musicals: The Messenger Boy in 1900 ("Maisie", "In the Wash", "When the Boys Come Home Once More" and "Leslie Mayne"), and The Toreador in 1901 ("Captivating Cora", "I'm Romantic", "When I Marry Amelia", "Keep Off the Grass", and "Archie"). Monckton's songs became very popular and continued to be performed long after the shows closed--some of them popular into the 1960s.
Monckton also contributed songs for shows playing at Daly's Theatre and for other producers, which tended more towards romantic comic opera, than the musicals presented at the Gaiety. Often, for Daly's Theatre, he collaborated with Sidney Jones, including on The Geisha in 1896 ("Jack's the Boy" and "The Toy Monkey"), A Greek Slave in 1898 ("I Want to Be Popular", "I Should Rather Like to Try", and "What Will Be the End of It?"), and San Toy in 1899 ("Rhoda and Her Pagoda", and "Sons of the Motherland"). He also continued as co-composer of, or contributor to, many successful shows with Caryll and others. Monckton's music was generally arranged and orchestrated by his skillful assistant, Carl Kiefert.
Finally, in 1902, Edwardes gave Monckton the opportunity to compose his first complete score, A Country Girl (key songs were "Molly the Marchioness", "Try Again, Johnny", and "Under the Deodar"). He also continued to contribute successful songs to other musicals, including The Orchid in 1903 ("Liza Ann", "Little Mary", "Pushful", and "Fancy Dress"). The success of A Country Girl led to another musical with Monckton as principal composer, The Cingalee in 1904. Although the piece was successful, French operettas then became the fashion at Daly's Theatre, and Monckton went back to composing music for others' shows.
Further collaborations included The Spring Chicken in 1905 ("I Don't Know, But I Guess", "Alice Sat By the Fire", and "Under and Over Forty"), The New Aladdin, in 1906 and The Girls of Gottenberg in 1907 ("Two Little Sausages", "Rheingold", and "Berlin on the Spree"). These songs were among the most widely played and sung numbers of the contemporary light musical theatre. A last success at the Gaiety was Our Miss Gibbs in 1909 ("Moonstruck", "Mary", "In Yorkshire", and "Our Farm").
After that, Monckton had his greatest success in, The Arcadians, in 1909. The Arcadians was possibly Monckton's best score and became popular in America and elsewhere, with songs such as "The Pipes of Pan", "The Girl with the Brogue", and "All Down Piccadilly". This was followed by the successful The Quaker Girl, in 1910 ("The Quaker Girl", "Come to the Ball", and "Tony from America"), The Mousmé in 1911 ("I Know Nothing of Life", "The Little Japanese Mamma", "The Temple Bell", and "The Corner of My Eye") and The Dancing Mistress in 1912. The latter two pieces had merely respectable runs. Monckton's last big success was The Boy in 1917 (produced after Edwardes's death), a musical-comedy version of Pinero's 1885 play, The Magistrate ("I Want to Go to Bye-Bye", "The Game That Ends with a Kiss", and "Powder on Your Nose").
After World War I
Later, Monckton contributed to some revues, but he had little enthusiasm for this new forms of musical entertainment. Unwilling to adapt his style of writing to the newly popular dance rhythms and 'noisy numbers' that were seen in theatres, Monckton ceased composing.
This list includes only the shows where Monckton was the principal composer. Many of the shows to which he contributed songs also had very long runs.