Harold Fraser-Simson

Harold Fraser-Simson

Composer

• 1872 1944

Biography

b. 15 August 1872, London, England, d. 19 January 1944, Dalcross Castle, Inverness, Scotland. Educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge, Fraser-Simson worked in commerce while attempting to launch a songwriting career. Among early songs that met with moderate success are ‘I Sent My Love Two Roses’, ‘The Raindrop And The Rose’, ‘Falmouth Town’ and ‘The Old Land’. His first London musical, Bonita (1911), ran for 46 performances. With The Maid Of The Mountains, on which he collaborated with lyricist Harry Graham, Fraser-Simson’s career blossomed. Starring José Collins, the show tried out in Manchester before opening in the West End in February 1917 for a run of 1, 352 performances. Later came revivals, a film version in 1932, and a staging on Broadway. Ironically, three of the four best-loved songs from this show are not Fraser-Simson’s work but additional songs written by James W. Tate, Clifford Harris and Arthur Valentine: ‘My Life Is Love’, ‘A Paradise For Two’ and ‘A Bachelor Gay Am I’. Of the popular four, only ‘Love Will Find A Way’ is by Graham and Fraser-Simson. His next show, A Southern Maid, opened in Manchester in 1917 but then toured the provinces until The Maid Of The Mountains closed in 1920 and Collins was free to star in London. Fraser-Simson’s other shows included Our Peg (1919, with Graham and Collins), Missy Jo (1921, Graham), Head Over Heels (1923, Graham and Adrian Ross), Our Nell (1924, with Ivor Novello), The Street Singer (1924, with Percy Greenbank), and Betty In Mayfair (1925, with Graham).

From here on, Fraser-Simson left musical comedies, composing a ballet, Venetian Wedding (1926), and incidental music for The Nightingale And The Rose (1927), and Toad Of Toad Hall (1929). On the latter, he collaborated with A.A. Milne who had adapted the show from Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s book, The Wind In The Willows. Having found his métier, Fraser-Simson next wrote musical settings for Milne’s children’s poems, When We Were Very Young. So popular were these that he followed them with Milne’s Now We Are Six, Winnie The Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner. In total, the Milne material resulted in 67 songs, among which are, memorably, ‘Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers’ and ‘They’re Changing Guard At Buckingham Palace’. Fraser-Simson also composed music for other poems, publishing collections entitled Teddy Bear And Other Songs and Alice In Wonderland.

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