This is one of my favourite pieces of light music. I have always had a soft spot for Mr. Punch and his antics in the seaside Punch & Judy show. Although I accept that much of it would probably be regarded as politically incorrect by the liberal elite, it has given pleasure to many children of all ages. Punchinello was regarded as a forerunner of Mr. Punch. Originally, he was a clown from Italian burlesque or puppet shows.
John Cottam Holliday is a bit of an unknown quantity. Fortunately, Philip Scowcroft has provided the listener with a few biographical notes. Holliday was born in London in 1897 and subsequently studied at the Guildhall School. His main musical contribution was as a solo pianist and chorus master at the Drury Lane Theatre. He served in the army during both world wars. The date of his death is unknown to me.
Many of Holliday’s pieces appear to have been composed with children in mind. However, there is nothing childish about Punchinello.
Lasting just over two mines this work is delight. It opens with a bassoon solo which is taken up by the orchestra and is passed between strings and woodwind. The ‘march trio’ is a catchy little number complete with glockenspiel. The cello reiterate the opening bassoon tune before the work closes rather unexpectedly with a ‘forte’ chord.
Finally, according to Philip Scowcroft the tune was orchestrated by Arthur Wood of Barwick Green fame.
As far as I am aware, John Holliday’s Punchinello is currently only available on The Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra Volume 2. This is available from Dutton Epoch.