World Piano Day

I know what you’re thinking, “how can he possibly link ‘World Piano Day’ with the Salonika campaign?”, well …

… in his book, Music from Macedonia, Charles H. B. Jacques describes how 85th Field Ambulance put together its first pantomime in December 1915 – Dick Whittington – in just a fortnight:

Two marquees placed together in T shape formed the theatre; the costumes were improvised from whatever materials were available; the modest orchestra was composed of a piano (hired at exorbitant rates from a local Greek), a violin and a tin-whistle. The music of most of the songs was borrowed without fee or license from various sources.

Concert parties of the Salonika campaign are a fascinating subject for study and Jacques’ book is invaluable for those interested in the four pantos produced within 28th Division but, for a detailed examination of the various concert parties of the BSF, I heartily recommend a marvellous series published in The Mosquito from September 1938 to September 1941 (if there are later instalments, I have yet to find them!). Entitled “The Songs We Sang in Salonika”, it covers pantomimes, plays and concert parties, with details of shows, cast members (with some photos), and musical numbers extracted by The Mosquito’s editor, G.E. Willis, from submitted programmes.

What a super resource and, of course, easily accessible by purchasing the Society’s DVD of all issues of The Mosquito. And if pantos are not your thing, then there is lots more fascinating material to be discovered within the pages of The Mosquito!

Author: Robin B

Robin's interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915 to 1917, mainly in the Struma valley. Robin joined the SCS in 2003 and served on the committee for 18 years as journal and web editor. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

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