Joseph Engleman

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Joseph, born Josef, Engleman was a pianist. He was perhaps not quite the equal of his son, Harry, born in 1912, who was regarded by many as a successor to Billy Mayerl as a syncopated pianist-cum-composer (Harry’s compositions, on the Mayerl model, included Cannon off the Cushion, 1938, Snakes and Ladders, 1939, Chase the Ace, 1936, Skittles – he seems to have been keen on games titles, rather as Mayerl was on flower titles – plus Finger Prints, 1936, and Summer Rain, 1952Harry also composed songs, notably Melody of Love, also arranged as a piano solo and, since then, for other instrumental combinations, and orchestral items including the twostep The Thoroughbred. Both Harry and Joseph had their own orchestras and bands in the Midlands. Harry was a dance band leader who often broadcast with his own Quintet and with the Aston Hippodrome Orchestra.


Joseph, if his best remembered output is a guide, was particularly involved with orchestras and his portfolio of original pieces is such as to make this writer surprised he has not so far been given the Marco Polo/Naxos treatment of a CD of his own. The portfolio includes the concert suites Three American Sketches, A Cocktail Cabinet, A Doll’s House, Four Olde English Inns, In a Toyshop, A Voyage Lilliput, Suite Rustique, Children’s Playtime, and Tales From a Fairy Book and individual movements such as Blarney Stone, described variously as a march and a twostep, Fiddler’s Folly,featuring a violin solo, Pizzicato Caprice, the descriptive interlude Riviera Express, the descriptive scene Bells Across the World, Horseman, River Girl, Stage Coach, Russian Fiddler, Greyhound Galop, Incognito, The Wedding of Punch and Judy, Wren’s Serenade, the two humorous pieces Cat and the Mouse (for piano and orchestra) and Bass Business, a "novelty intermezzo" for contrabass (or baritone sax or bassoon) and orchestra, and Spectre, used as the signature tune to radio’s "The Armchair Detective". Several of the individual movements besides Spectre were of the length suited to "mood music". A notable output, then, and that is probably just a sample – but these original titles were probably outnumbered by his own arrangements. Of these I recall Potted Overtures, described as a "humorous sketch". One of his biggest contributions to light music though, was helping to found Bosworth’s mood music library in 1937 for which he wrote many pieces; it was indeed Bosworth who published much of his orchestral repertoire, whether "mood music" or not. Bosworth once commissioned him to compile a collection of twenty fanfares, each in a different mood (Military, Oriental, Valse, Comic, Weird and so on) – in effect twenty "library music" miniatures!

© Copyright Philip Scowcroft

This profile first appeared in ‘Journal Into Melody’ September 2007

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