In 1956 Sir Arthur Bliss was commissioned to write two short pieces for use on the newly opened ABC Television service.
The first was a Signature Tune (moderato maestoso) lasting for some 45 seconds and the second was an Interlude of 1 minute 15 seconds. Both were arranged for orchestra. The contract was signed on 18 May 1956 shortly after the composer had returned from a concert tour of the Soviet Union. The same year saw the first performance of his Meditations on a Theme by John Blow, the Edinburgh Overture, work commencing on the film score to Seven Waves Away starring Tyrone Power and Mai Zetterling. On 31 March Arthur Bliss’ daughter Karen had married Christopher Sellick.
The first broadcast of the new TV station was in the Midlands on 5 May 1956 before the contract for the music had been signed with the composer. Stewart Craggs in his Arthur Bliss: A Bio-bibliography (1988) states that the first performance of the Signature Tune and Interlude is unknown. The score is still in manuscript has not been published.
The Signature Tune has been uploaded to YouTube, however the Interlude does not appear to be online yet. It is an attractive piece that certainly would have added some dash to the opening of the day’s schedule.