Billy Mayerl


Born: May 31, 1902; London, England   Died: March 25, 1959; Beaconsfield, S. Bucks, England  
Billy Mayerl achieved considerable popularity from the 1920s to 1950s through his radio broadcasts and recordings as a bandleader, a pianist noted for his novelty compositions and songs, and through his many theater scores.

Mayerl's prodigal talents were recognized early: He was granted a scholarship to Trinity College and performed Grieg's Piano Concerto at Queens Hall when he was only 12. His skill as a silent film accompanist earned
Read more him the sobriquet "wonder boy." As his studies advanced, he discovered he was attracted to American popular music. In 1921, while working in a Southampton hotel band, he was asked to join the Savoy Havana Band and he soon became a celebrity. His compositions, small suites, and collections, at this time demonstrate his love of tone poem-like description: Egyptian Suite (1919) and the Six Pianolettes ("Jazz Master", "Eskimo Shivers" [the only tune that Mayerl recorded on a piano roll], "Jazzaristrix", "Jazz Mistress", "Virginia Creeper", "All-of-a-Twist") written in 1925, published by Keith Prowse. These compositions have in common an emphasis on syncopation, unusual accents, delightful melodies, dazzling upbeat atmospheres, and varied textures. Mayerl also created many transcriptions of popular tunes of the day.

In 1926, Mayerl left the band to open his School of Syncopation that taught pop piano techniques (stride and ragtime styles mostly), which eventually led to a "Learn How to Play Like Billy" correspondence course, and he also founded a dance band agency. Mayerl recorded many sides for the Vocalian label through 1927 and later worked for HMV, Decca, British Columbia, and others. He also appeared as soloist in the London premiere of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

One of Mayerl's biggest hits was Marigold (1927). Other pieces of this time included Four Piano Exaggerations (1926, including Sleepy Piano), Hollyhock (Syncopated Impression) (1927), Honkytonk (1928), his popular Jasmine (1929), Six Studies in Syncopation (1930 - 1931), and the Four Aces Suite (1933). The Ace of Spades is remarkable for its atonal introduction and bi-tonality (similar to Stravinsky's Petrushka, which Mayerl admired). Many of his compositions were also in the British pastoral style, intimate and contemplative, such as the Pastoral Sketches (1928).

Between the wars, Mayerl scored shows for many of the top British music hall stars, including Nippy (1930), Sporting Love (1934), Twenty to One (1935), and Over She Goes (1936). He continued to play vaudeville houses and variety shows and broadcast regularly. His wife, Jill, was also a fine pianist who had her own recording career.

Mayerl's Aquarium Suite (Willow Moss, Moorish Idol, Fantail, Whirligig) of 1937 was another colorful and subtle "impression" that was much admired. The following year, his spectacular Railroad Rhythm created another hit. During WWII, his published compositions were considerably fewer, but Mayerl returned to full speed with his beautiful In My Garden series of 12 pieces during 1946 - 1947, his upbeat Postman's Knock (1951), and other delightful pieces through 1959. Mayerl did not incorporate the later riff and freer bebop improvisatory styles in his piano playing, but is still remembered for his melodic creations. Read less
Browse 1-15 of 15 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Golden Age Of Light Music: The Runaway Rocking Horse & Other Library Lollipops
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5232 Release Date: 10/15/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edward Little White,  Archibald Joyce,  Billy Mayerl,  William Davies  ... 
    Conductor:  Jay Wilbur,  Sidney Torch,  Kurt Rehfeld,  Erich Börschel  ... 
    CD: $9.99
    Back Order
    CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 2.
    Piano Music By Billy Mayerl, Vol. 2
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 149 Release Date: 09/04/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Billy Mayerl
    Performer:  Composer] Philip [Piano Martin
    CD: $18.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $18.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 3.
    Piers Lane Goes To Town
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 67967 Release Date: 09/10/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Katharine Parker,  Alan Lane,  Anthony Doheny,  John Ireland  ... 
    Performer:  Piers Lane
    CD: $18.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $18.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 4.
    Billy Mayerl: Piano Music Vol 1 / Philip Martin
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 124 Release Date: 06/11/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Billy Mayerl
    Performer:  Philip Martin
    CD: $18.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $18.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 5.
    Beethoven Invents Jazz
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0709232 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork,  Juhani Lagerspetz,  Jean-Bernard Pommier,  Michael Collins  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras,  Simon Rattle,  Alberto Zedda,  Wayne Marshall  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Melos Ensemble London
    CD: $12.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $12.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 6.
    British Composers – Best of British
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 28989 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Edgar Bainton,  Arnold Bax,  Frederic Bayco,  Lennox Berkeley  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Rodney Bennett
    Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury,  Richard Hickox,  George Weldon,  Sir Vivian Dunn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Northern Sinfonia of England,  Pro Arte Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $34.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 7.
    British Composers: A Celebration
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 95480 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Benjamin Britten,  Charles Hubert Parry,  Gustav Holst,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  Ian Hare,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Bruce Russell,  Robert Tear  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Christopher Bishop  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Choir  ... 
    CD: $12.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $12.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 8.
    The Golden Age Of Light Music: Orchestral Gems In Stereo
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5165 Release Date: 08/10/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tolchard Evans,  Jerome Kern,  Jule Styne,  Charles Trenet  ... 
    Conductor:  Carmen Dragon,  Paul Weston,  Warren Barker,  Xavier Cugat  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Victor Silvester & His Silver Strings,  101 Strings (Orchestra)
    CD: $9.99
    Back Order
    CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 9.
    Cascade Of Roses - A Piano Bouquet / Janice Weber
    Label: Sono Luminus   Catalog: 92102 Release Date: 01/26/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Reynaldo Hahn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Janice Weber
    CD: $17.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $17.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 10.
    Golden Age Of Light Music - Going Places
    Label: Guild   Catalog: 5151 Release Date: 03/10/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Marguerite Monnot,  Oliphant Chuckerbutty,  Carroll Coates,  Peter Yorke  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hayman,  Ray Martin,  Peter Yorke,  Sidney Torch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Louis Voss Orchestra,  Ray Martin Orchestra,  Peter Yorke Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $9.99
    In Stock
    CD:  $9.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 11.
    Mayerl: Loose Elbows / Susan Tomes
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 90745 Release Date: 02/21/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Percy French,  Jerome Kern,  John Waldo Green,  Philip Braham  ... 
    Performer:  Susan Tomes
    ArkivCD $16.99
    Low Stock
    ArkivCD:  $16.99 Add to Cart

  • 12.
    British Light Miniatures - Vintage Tv & Radio Classics
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8570332 Release Date: 03/27/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Billy Mayerl,  John Dankworth,  Montague Phillips,  Alan Langford  ... 
    Performer:  Andrew Vinter
    Conductor:  Gavin Sutherland,  Paul Murphy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    On sale!
    CD: $8.99
    Low Stock
    On sale!     CD:  $8.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 13.
    The Piano Music Of Billy Mayerl / Eric Parkin
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10324 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Billy Mayerl
    Performer:  Eric Parkin
    CD: $24.99
    Low Stock
    CD:  $24.99 Add CD to Cart

  • 14.
    Listen, Learn & Grow - Playtime - Imagination
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8555811 Release Date: 08/20/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Bedrich Smetana  ... 
    Performer:  Zdenek Tylsar,  Bedrich Tylsar,  Dario Müller,  Idil Biret
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Michael Halász,  Michael Dittrich,  Barry Wordsworth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Zagreb Festival Orchestra,  Bratislava Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $12.99
    CD: $11.49
    In Stock
    On sale!   $12.99   CD:  $11.49 Add CD to Cart

  • 15.
    Listen, Learn And Grow - Playtime
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8560050 Release Date: 06/19/2001   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Gioachino Rossini,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Performer:  Bedrich Tylsar,  Zdenek Tylsar,  Balázs Szokolay,  Péter Nagy  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Edlinger,  Michael Halász,  Michael Dittrich,  Ondrej Lenárd  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capella Istropolitana,  Zagreb Festival Orchestra,  Bratislava Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $25.49
    In Stock
    CD:  $25.49 Add CD to Cart