Charles Ancliffe

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Charles Ancliffe (1880 – 20 December 1952) was an Irish born composer of light music, chiefly remembered for his marches and waltzes.

Life and works[edit]

Charles Ancliffe was born in Kildare, Ireland, the son of an army bandmaster. After studying at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, he followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a bandmaster himself. From 1900 to 1918 he was Bandmaster of the First Battalion, South Wales Borderers, seeing much service in India.[1][2] During this period he wrote many popular pieces of music including marches such as The Liberators, and Castles in Spain. He also composed dozens of short genre pieces, often styled 'intermezzo' or 'entr'acte', several songs and ingeniously titled suites such as Below Bridges. which had the titles Wapping Old Stairs, Poplar and Stepney Church, — all London bridges.

Around the time of the First World War Ancliffe composed many waltzes, and it is mainly for these that he is remembered. These included Hesitation, Alpine Echoes, and Smiles Then Kisses, the titles reflecting the age in which they were written. Several of these enjoyed renewed popularity with the fashion for ‘olde-tyme dancing’ after World War II.

Nights of Gladness[edit]

It was for Nights of Gladness, written in 1912, that Ancliffe became most famous. The waltz became so popular all over the world that in later years the BBC named a long-running series of light music programmes after it, using it as the signature tune[3] [4]

More than a hundred years after it was written it is still to be found included on many CD compilations of light music, played by notable orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. [5] After leaving the services Charles Ancliffe was a regular conductor of the Scarborough Military Band, and was also a frequent guest conductor of his own works on BBC Radio.

Selected compositions[edit]


  • April Clouds
  • Dream Princess
  • Festive Days
  • Irish Whispers
  • Shy Glancess
  • Southern Nights
  • Temptation
  • Thrills
  • Twilight Time
  • Unforgotten Hours
  • Smiles, then kisses

Miscellaneous short pieces[edit]

  • A Forest Wooing
  • April's Lady
  • Burma Intermezzo
  • Cinderella's Wedding
  • Down in Zanzibar
  • El Saludo
  • Fragrance
  • Hans the Stroller
  • Mariette-Coquette
  • Moon Maid
  • Peacock's Parade
  • Penelope's Garden
  • Secrets, Valley of Roses
  • The Flutter of the Fay


  • Below Bridges
  • Southern Impressions
  • The Purple Vine (in three movements) : The Vintagers, The Purple Vine and Evening at the Inn
  • Suite Poetique


  • Ask Daddy
  • Someday in Somebody's Eyes
  • I Cannot Live Without You.


  1. ^ [1] Hyperion Records
  2. ^ [2] 24th Regiment band
  3. ^ [3] Musicweb international
  4. ^ [4] History of Broadcasting : Asa Briggs
  5. ^ [5] Presto classical

External links[edit]