I make no excuses for reposting this short note about Clive Richardson's Holiday Spirit. For one thing, I have included a link to the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra’s exemplary performance under Robert Farnon. And there were several typos. I have made a few amendments too. Soon, the traditional holiday season will be over. Scottish Schools are already back: England and Wales return in a few days’ time. In my days it was 50 weeks until the next seaside holiday: no Winter or City Breaks then.
I have always loved ‘light music’ that evokes the spirit of ‘holidays.’ Whether it is Percy Whitlock’s eponymous Suite for Orchestra, Peter Yorke's Highdays and Holidays or Felton Rapley’s Southern Holiday, listening this sort of music has made me forget the grey days and think of places both near and far (mostly near) and often by the seaside. Usually my thoughts takes me to Morecambe in the ‘sixties, Llandudno, Blackpool or to Bournemouth.
All the attributes are present in my mind’s eye – the piers, Punch and Judy, lidos (and slot machines. Many of these things have now gone -the Derby Baths in Blackpool, donkeys on the beach, the pier-head orchestras and the bathing beauties (no longer PC). However, it is still easy to catch a flavour of the ‘old days’ whilst walking along the Prom or listening to the Wurlitzer in the Tower Ballroom. Nowadays one is lucky to see one of the old trams between Stargate and Fleetwood. They are still around, but the main service is now run by the new Flexity’s. The old trams are now ‘heritage’. I used to love the conductor’s ‘patter’.
I visited Morecambe a few months ago. It has changed considerably, but there is just about enough left to allow me to create the holiday magic in my mind’s eye.
In 2019 one is most likely to travel by car, but in the ‘old days’ the train journey was part of the fun. Although I do remember travelling to Morecambe in my father’s old 1958 two-tone Hillman Minx MkII. Would that I had that car now!
No piece of music is so evocative of summer holidays or the expectation of that vacation, in Britain and by the seaside as is Clive Richardson’s Holiday Spirit. Perhaps this piece is better known as the theme music to Children’s Television Newsreel in the 1950’s but for me it is always evocative of the thrill of arriving at the holiday destination and going for that first walk along the seashore. From the upward string motive of this piece the music just swings along. It is perfectly happy music with never as much as a reflective backward glance. The strings sweep the tune towards a slightly statelier ‘trio’ theme but the main them pervades the entire piece. Much use is made of tuned percussion and muted brass which gives a kind of jazzy feel to this music. The work comes to a sudden end. The holiday not so much over, as just begun!
The sleeve notes for the Naxos recording of this piece explains that the performing copies of this work disappeared and had to be reconstructed for Friday Night is Music Night.
Clive Richardson’s Holiday Spirit can be heard on YouTube. The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra is conducted by Robert Farnon.