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Lionel Monckton

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Lionel Monckton


Lionel John Alexander Monckton (18 December 1861, London – 15 February 1924, London) was an English composer of musical theatre.

Monckton was the eldest son of the Town Clerk of London, Sir John Braddick Monckton, and Lady Monckton, the former Maria Louisa Long (1837–1920), an "enthusiastic amateur actress". He was educated at Charterhouse School and Oriel College at Oxford University, graduating in 1885. There he acted in college theatrical productions and composed music for productions of the Oxford University Dramatic Society, of which he was a founder, and the Phil-Thespian Club.

He initially joined the legal profession at Lincoln's Inn and began to practice law, but gained part-time work as a songwriter and a theatre and music critic, first for the Pall Mall Gazette and later for the Daily Telegraph. His first theatre work was Mummies and Marriage, an operetta produced by amateurs in 1888. At the age of 29, in 1891, he finally managed to place the song What will you have to Drink?, with lyrics by Basil Hood, in a professional musical burlesque called Cinder Ellen up too Late. Monckton soon became a regular composer (and sometimes lyricist) of songs for the very successful series of frothy 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.

Monckton became Britain's most popular composer of Edwardian musical comedy in the early years of the 20th century. His music remained popular in Britain until after World War II, when American musicals took over the stage and even into the latter half of the 20th century, in the case of his most popular shows.

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