Marigold: The Music of Billy Mayerl by Peter Dickinson
Billy Mayerl, as pianist-composer-celebrity-educator, was one of the most brilliant figures in British music from the 1920s to the 1950s. Born in London, he became known in childhood as the Wonder Boy Pianist playing for silent films and was captivated by American popular music. With the Savoy Havana Band, he made an immediate impact on the earliest days of broadcasting and was known as the pianist with the lightning fingers. Mayerl's own compositions, in both quality and quantity, are the most significant contribution to the genre of novelty piano, which succeeded ragtime and overlapped with early jazz. The pace of these dazzling, cinematic sketches in rag form perfectly encapsulates the hedonism of the jazz age. But Mayerl also wrote more contemplative pieces belonging to the English pastoral tradition: he was never just the composer of "Marigold". Between the wars he became a familiar figure on the Music Halls, playing two pianos at once and taking requests, and he composed for musical comedies involving some of the best-known British stars. As if this frantice pace was not enough, he started his Billy Mayerl School in 1926 to teach syncopated piano playing and there were branches across England and abroad. This book which contains a full CD of Mayerl's historic playing is a detailed study of his work and should ensure a permanent place for Mayerl and his music.