l Saluto di Giovanni Moscardini (Johnny Moscardini's Salute) - A new Blair Douglas Composition
Blair Douglas, one of Scotland’s foremost musicians, has just penned a composition in honour of the Scots-Italian footballer, Giovanni or Johnny Moscardini, who though born in Falkirk in 1897, took to the field a total of nine times for ‘Azzurri’ between 1921 and 1925.
The tune “Il Saluto di Giovanni Moscardini”, (Johnny Moscardini’s Salute) is a reel for pipes and drums, brass band, strings, and percussion. Whilst composed in the Scottish traditional idiom, it has distinct Mediterranean influences. Il Saluto is up-tempo and exhilarating as would befit a tune named for a prolific striker such as Johnny Moscardini.
Giovanni Moscardini’s father was one of three brothers from Barga in Tuscany who moved to Scotland to set up fish and chips shops and ice-cream parlours. At the outbreak of the First World War, Johnnie enlisted in the Italian army and after demobilisation he settled in his father’s hometown.
A talented footballer, he turned out for the local team but was soon spotted by the local senior club Lucca, then playing in the Italian League - Tuscany Section. He later signed for near neighbours Pisa, becoming the club's top scorer and the first choice at centre-forward for the national side. Latterly, he joined Genoa, then the top Italian club and he made his last appearance for Italy against France on March 22nd, 1925 marking the occasion by scoring twice in a 7-0 win.
That year, however, he returned to Scotland to help run his uncle's Royal Cafe in Campbeltown, and there his distinguished footballing career came to an end playing for Campbeltown Pupils AFC. He subsequently moved to Prestwick where he died in 1985. Being the only player from Barga ever to play in the Italian national team, the local football stadium is named in his honour.
Blair Douglas came across Moscardini’s story by chance. His daughter, Ceitidh (Katie), wrote about him for a school project and asked her father to proof-read her work. “I was immediately intrigued with Johnny Moscardini. Here was a young man who was born of an immigrant family in Scotland but pursued a highly successful professional football career in Italy and who gave it up to help out in a family business in Kintyre. How times have changed. It was also a revelation to read about Barga’s strong connections with Scotland through the numerous local families who came over to this country. The tune Il Saluto di Giovanni Moscardini, is in honour of Johnny, one of Barga’s most famous sons, but it is also in recognition of the huge contribution Scots-Italians in general have made to our nation. I plan to record the reel on my next album, but would relish the idea of premiering the tune in Barga itself. The idea of playing the tune in the Johnny Moscardini’s home town greatly appeals to me, particularly if it could be done in collaboration with local Barga musicians. I don’t know the Italian for ‘great crack’, but undoubtedly that’s what the premiere would be.”