Jack Salisbury and his Salon Orchestra

Jack Salisbury and his Salon Orchestra

In these days of wall-to-wall pop music, with its pounding beat, shrieking vocalists and little or no melody, presented by disc-jockeys who appear to have some sort of adrenaline rush, it is easy to forget how civilised radio used to be. The old Light Programme provided a wide range of light entertainment, of which light orchestral music was a major part. Because the BBC had an agreement with the Musicians' Union called the 'needle time agreement', only a fixed percentage of each day could be given over to gramophone records. All other music had to be provided by studio musicians, thus ensuring that the BBC was the world's greatest employer of musicians.

Inevitably, the War meant the disbandment of many orchestras, although it is surprising just how many managed to keep going, using musicians ineligible for military service. Upon the cessation of hostilities,many orchestras were re-formed and others started up afresh. One such orchestra was directed by violinist Jack Salisbury.

Jack Salisbury and his Salon Orchestra, became one of many contrasting orchestras regularly contracted by the BBC to play the tuneful light music that many have forgotten ever existed, the younger generation being totally unaware of it. Jack joined the 'Music While You Work' regulars in 1948 and played 148 editions in the ensuing seventeen years.

Whilst his orchestra-leader brother, Arthur Salisbury, enjoyed success as a Musical Director at the Savoy Hotel in London, Jack had a long association with the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill, where he stood in front of his orchestra playing his violin in true Palm Court style. Indeed, Jack’s orchestra sometimes deputised for the BBC's Palm Court Orchestra in 'Grand Hotel', for which the repertoire was rather more demure that the upbeat MWYW.

The ten-piece orchestra also participated in a wide range of programmes, including 'Bright and Early' and 'Morning Music.' When light music programmes became more commercial in the sixties, Jack Salisbury's rather traditional style went out of favour with the BBC and his broadcasts decreased in frequency — a pity as he always maintained a high standard. He had dropped the appendage 'salon' in 1959, and whilst he was never averse to including new pieces in his programmes if they suited the style of the orchestra, his was a style which the BBC, in its infinite wisdom, decided had become unfashionable and the orchestra broadcast for the last time in 1966.

Long into his retirement, Jack continued to play the violin and could often be heard playing in his Bexhill home; in fact he became known locally as the 'Mozart of Bexhill'.

Jack Salisbury died in February 1997.

Click here!
Listen to 'Music While You Work'
played by Jack Salisbury and his Orchestra
as broadcast at 10.31 a.m. on 15th. June 1963

10.31 am. on Saturday 15th. June 1963 - Home Service
Jack Salisbury and his Orchestra

(Sig.) Calling All Workers
Swinging the March
Long Ago
Swiss Blue Bells
Russian Salad
Waltz Medley:
. At last, At last
. Montparnesse
. Padam, Padam
. Domino
Moonlight Tango
. Love makes the world go round
. I'll pray for you
. Till the stars forget to shine
. My thanks to you
. Let the people sing
(Sig.) Calling All Workers
Eric Coates
Ken Jones
George Scott-Wood
Reginald Porter-Brown
Jimmy Leach
arr. Rourke
Charles Trenet
Isobel Brandez
Norrie Paramor
arr. Rourke
Eric Coates

11.30 a.m. to 12 noon, Home Service, 17th. July 1953
Jack Salisbury and his Salon Orchestra

El Picaro
Kisses in the Dark
The Penny Whistle Song
I've never been in Love Before
Spanish Caprice
My Heart Sings
Romantic Rhapsody
Swedish Polka
Selection: Baby's Opera
Leroy Anderson
Frank Loesser
James Willard
Charles Williams
Ringstrand arr.Hartley
arr. Byng

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Text by Brian Reynolds : e-mail brian@mastersofmelody.co.uk