One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

Index page

Return to Chapter 22



An Astonishing Period of Growth

Pre-1939 – war-time and post-war increase in audiences for concerts and opera. Insufficient financial support. New repertoire – contemporary music. The Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique et Musique. The future for symphony orchestras. The Wheatland Foundation. The Orchestra for Europe. 

Before 1939 and the outbreak of the Second World War there were only two full-time symphony orchestras in Britain, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. Though the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, unlike any of the other seaside resort orchestras, gave performances throughout the year and a few of its programmes were of entirely symphonic music it was not really a ‘symphony orchestra’. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé in Manchester, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow all had concert seasons that only ran from September until the end of April or early May. There was still no opera house open throughout the year – the seasons of opera and ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, were also from September until May. If you did not live in or near one of the towns with a symphony orchestra there were from 1930 the regular broadcasts by the BBC orchestras and an increasing number of gramophone records, albeit in four minute chunks, in the old 78rpm format. The audience for opera, ballet and symphonic music remained, as it had always been, predominantly middle and upper-middle class.

The majority of people listened to ‘light’ music and ‘dance’ music, broadcast by the BBC and Radio Luxembourg – it would be some years before improvised jazz would be broadcast by the BBC. Until 1940 when the twice daily broadcasts of Music While You Work started there were broadcasts from a number of the larger seaside resort orchestras such as Eastbourne, Hastings and Blackpool, during the summer months, and from the larger Variety theatres and cinemas that employed a stage orchestra – the best was probably the one at the Commodore cinema in Hammersmith, London, which had an orchestra of about 35 conducted by Joseph Muscant and later by Harry Davidson, who became very well known for his Olde Time Dance Orchestra which broadcast for about twenty five years and, I’m told, was Queen Mary’s favourite programme.. There were also many small ensembles that broadcast regularly – some of the best known were Fred Hartley’s Novelty Quintet, the JH Squire Celeste Octet, the Cedric Sharpe Sextet, Albert Sandler and the Palm Court Orchestra. A good deal of the music played by the Dance Bands such as Henry Hall, Jack Hylton, Roy Fox and Jack Payne, though syncopated, would now be thought of as light music. Other opportunities to hear this kind of music were on the bandstands in parks and at the seaside, in restaurants and in the theatre. Some of the orchestras at holiday resorts were paid for by the local municipality and were quite large with as many as forty or fifty musicians. As well as playing on the bandstand they gave concerts in the local hall and were quite able to tackle some of the symphonic repertoire.

The programmes for the Southport Municipal Orchestra in 1940 were similar to those of most seaside resort orchestras in the 1930s, which usually gave three performances a day. At Southport they were at 11.00a.m. and at 3.00 and 7.30p.m., except on Sundays when, in deference to the prevalence of regular church going, the morning performance was omitted. Their afternoon and evening performances nearly always included an overture from one of the popular operas or a short work from the symphony orchestra repertoire. In one week as well as such novelties as Dainty Doll by Barnes, Al Fresco by Herbert, the Serenade Portrait of a Toy Soldier by Ewing and The Teddy Bears Picnic by Bratton, they included the overtures Coriolan by Beethoven, Rienzi by Wagner, The Thieving Magpie by Rossini and Ruy Blas by Mendelssohn. Their wide-ranging repertoire also included The Dance of the Comedians from The Bartered Bride by Smetana, the march Pomp and Circumstance (no.1) by Elgar, Marche Slave by Tchaikovsky alongside movements from Schubert’s Symphony No.1, Hamilton Harty’s Irish Symphony, and a movement from the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz. Though hardly ever played now, the overtures Mignon by Ambroise Thomas, Zampa by Louis Herold and The Light Cavalry and Poet and Peasant, both by Franz von Suppe, were all extremely popular and frequently played by symphony orchestras, on band-stands and, in reduced Tavan arrangements, in cafes and restaurants.

From 1930 when the BBC started broadcasting a wide range of symphonic music there can be no doubt that the performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London and the other much smaller BBC regional orchestras, that also played orchestral music, the relays from public concerts and the records played by Christopher Stone, the first DJ in Britain, all played a very important part in creating the audience that between 1940 and 1946, during WW2 led to a dramatic increase in the audience for ‘serious’ music. Concerts by symphony orchestras began attracting large audiences.

Until the Third Programme was created in 1946 there were only two BBC programmes, both with a policy of mixed programming as favoured by Sir John Reith, the Director-General until 1938. A comedy show might be followed by a talk or a programme of light music or one of orchestral music played by one of the BBC orchestras. It was still possible for anyone to find that without intending to they were listening to music of a kind they would otherwise never have heard.

But, probably more than anything else it was the creation in 1940 of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), funded by the Treasury. CEMA was set up in the first place to provide funding for the arts with the intention of raising wartime morale, that for the first time provided a state subsidy for the arts. This enabled the orchestras to do lunch-time concerts in factory canteens and guaranteed a subsidy for concerts in smaller halls. The canteen concerts, held in an environment where people felt at ease were very successful and brought serious music to a great number of people who would never have considered going to a symphony concert

The concerts the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra gave all over Britain throughout the war were another important element in creating an audience for serious music. I have already written about the concerts the LPO gave in theatres organised by Jack Hylton. Very few working class people would at that time venture into an opera house or concert hall (or be able to afford to do so). But everyone was used to going to the theatre for variety shows, plays and musical comedies so that when the Carl Rosa Opera Company, which toured all over the country played in those theatres, it too attracted an audience from all classes. It was the same when the LPO started playing in the theatres, often in towns that did not have a hall large enough for a symphony orchestra. When I joined the LPO in 1943 and did those weeks in theatres every one of the eight concerts, each with a different programme, was sold out. The Wessex Philharmonic Orchestra, which gave concerts all over Britain from 1942 until near the end of the war, also played a part in bringing music to many places that had never seen a symphony orchestra before. It was much smaller and cheaper than the LPO and could be booked to give concerts in halls that were too small to accommodate or afford an orchestra the size of the LPO.

Then in 1942 the Liverpool Philharmonic became independent from the BBC Northern Orchestra in Manchester with whom it had shared a good many players. They became a full-time orchestra with financial assistance from the local council and engaged Dr Malcolm Sargent as their principal conductor. At the same time, by coincidence, the BBC decided to disband the Salon Orchestra it had formed at the beginning of the war from a number of the finest players in the country and some of them, Anthony Pini, Arthur Gleghorn and Reginald Kell joined the Liverpool orchestra as principals of the cello, flute and clarinet sections. They and a few other players from the Salon Orchestra proved to be invaluable in raising the standard of an otherwise provincial orchestra.

Click for larger picture

In 1943 John Barbirolli returned to Britain after being the conductor of the New York Philharmonic for seven years. I was then in the LPO and when we learned he was coming back we wanted him to become our principal conductor, but he had already accepted an invitation from the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester which like the Liverpool Philharmonic now had the funds to become independent and full-time. Within a few weeks of hectic auditioning he assembled an orchestra starting with the small nucleus of players who had not wanted to remain in the BBC Northern Orchestra when it went full-time. The following year in May 1944 the City of Birmingham Council authorised an annual grant of £7000 to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) for the following five years plus another £7500 from the Education Committee if the Orchestra would guarantee to undertake education work 50 days a year. Their first concert as a full-time orchestra was in October of that year conducted by the newly appointed young English conductor George Weldon.

During the war the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra struggled on as a skeleton orchestra, reduced to only 24 players but by 1947 it was back to 60 musicians and had appointed Rudolf Schwarz as its conductor. After a number of financially bumpy years the orchestra’s management was taken on by the Western Orchestral Society and it became the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The first concert under its new name was conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham and Charles Groves, who continued as its principal conductor until 1961 when he left to become the conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic. By1958, under his direction, the management were able to enlarge the orchestra to 75 players and it started to establish a considerable reputation.

By 1946 with the formation of the Philharmonia in 1945 and the Royal Philharmonic in 1946 as well as the orchestras in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bournemouth, the number of full-time symphony orchestras, not counting the BBC orchestras had grown to six. The Scottish Orchestra, which had had such successful seasons pre-war with John Barbirolli and then Georg Szell as principal conductors had to wait until 1950, when its name was changed to the Scottish National Orchestra (SNO), before becoming full-time.

When the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, reopened it was as a fully-fledged Opera House, even though there was still no opera company. On 20 February 1946 the House opened with a performance of The Sleeping Beauty danced by Ninette de Valois’s Sadler’s Wells Ballet, which became the resident ballet company. David Webster, the General Administrator and the Music Director Karl Rankl built an opera company – a remarkable achievement in such a short time – and in December 1946 the opera and ballet companies shared their first production, The Fairy Queen. The first performance, on 14 January 1947, given by the Covent Garden Opera Company, which in 1968 became The Royal Opera was Bizet’s Carmen. The ballet company had already become The Royal Ballet in 1956.

The establishment of the Third Programme in 1946 was another boost for serious music. Unfortunately it was also the start of ghettoised radio. From then on the Home Service and the Light and the Third programmes each had their separate identities. Then in 1967 the BBC was obliged to replace the banned pirate radio stations – in fact, illegal commercial radio stations. They had been broadcasting the current pop hit records and commercial advertising – ‘jingles’. The new station, Radio 1 was born and the separation of the radio programmes became even greater. It was now extremely unlikely that anyone would inadvertently stray from Radio 1 into the hallowed realms of Radio 3.

I remember the discussions we had with the Government at that time. The Government were asking the BBC to establish a programme to replace the pirates. Of course this would involve a considerable increase in the number of records the BBC would need to broadcast. The Musicians’ Union still had the ‘needle-time’ agreement with the BBC that restricted the number of hours they were permitted to broadcast commercial recordings. The MU was unwilling to discuss an increase in needle-time until it was convinced by the Government that it was really necessary. The Postmaster General, who led for the Government was a rather dour and humourless man, Edward Short. He assured us that it was absolutely necessary as MPs had all received thousands of requests – indeed demands – from listeners to the pirate broadcasts and he said that the Government were obliged to respond. When I asked him if the Government would now respond in the same way if the many viewers of the pornographic films that were being beamed from overseas were encouraged to write to their MPs in the same way, he responded rather gloomily ‘that I was being unfair’.

It was a foregone conclusion that the MU would have to agree to an increase in the number of hours that commercial recordings could be broadcast and, as I have written earlier, it did a deal with the BBC that resulted in more employment for free-lance musicians in broadcasting and the creation of the Training Orchestra. The Home Service, the predominantly spoken word programme became Radio 4, with Radio 1 broadcasting pop music, Radio 2 ‘middle of the road’, or light music (nearly everything not contemporary pop or classical music), and Radio 3 mainly for serious music and drama. Until 1993, when the target age range changed from 13 – 40 to 13 – 25, Radio 1 had been known as Britain’s Favourite Radio. As a result of this change of age range it lost nearly a third of its audience and Radio 2 replaced it as the most listened to station.

The twenty years or so after the end of WW2 were probably the best years musically and financially there have ever been in Britain for a large number of orchestral musicians, whether they were free-lancing or playing in one of the London orchestras. In addition to the four major London orchestras and the BBC orchestras resident in London there were orchestras at the Royal Opera House and Sadlers Wells Theatre, which had reopened in 1945 with the first performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes. It was decided in 1968 that the Sadlers Wells company should move to the London Coliseum, a very much larger House and provide the full opera repertoire in English. Six years later in 1974 it became the English National Opera (ENO).

There were also a number of other orchestras. One, never a full-time orchestra, was the short-lived National Symphony Orchestra, formed in 1942 by Sidney Beer, a wealthy amateur conductor. During the war he was able to engage the services of the finest young wind players who were then serving in the RAF Central Band, stationed at Uxbridge, or in one of the Guards Bands.

Before the orchestra was disbanded in 1946 it gave a series of concerts in the Royal Albert Hall and made several recordings for Decca as well as going on a European tour. Some of the recordings were well reviewed – not surprisingly since the orchestra comprised the very best musicians then working in London. While it lasted Sidney Beer was able to attract a remarkable number of the most outstanding players – nearly all of them went on to be principals in the Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia: two leaders of the RPO, David McCallum and Oscar Lampe, Leonard Hirsch, leader of the Philharmonia, the violist Leonard Rubens, the cellists Douglas Cameron and Cedric Sharpe, and most of the wind principals who joined the Philharmonia when it started: Alec Whittaker (oboe), Reginald Kell (clarinet), John Alexandra (bassoon), Dennis Brain (horn) and Harold Jackson (trumpet).

Another short-lived music enterprise, that while it lasted provided a very high standard, was the New London Opera, which the entrepreneur Jay Pomeroy started in 1942 at the Cambridge Theatre. With Alberto Erede as musical director he was able to attract international stars of the calibre of Margharita Grandi, Giuseppe di Stefano and Mariano Stabile. But by 1949 with the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne able to mount much better productions he decided to leave the stage.

As well as the symphony orchestras there were an increasing number of chamber orchestras and chamber music ensembles. The Boyd Neeli Orchestra formed in 1932 was already well established and particularly famed for premiering a new work especially written for the Salzburg Festival, Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, which did a good deal to establish Britten’s reputation and also made the orchestra well-known internationally. The orchestra was disbanded during the war but restarted again soon after. Some years later it was renamed the Philomusica of London with Thurston Dart, who played a leading part in arousing a renewed interest in Baroque and early Classical music, conducting and leading from the keyboard. When, in 1959 the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (ASMF) was formed by a group of eleven musicians it had no conductor. It was led by Neville Marriner (later Sir Neville), who until then had for some years been leader of the second violin section of the LSO. Very soon the Academy outgrew its original eleven players and its baroque repertoire and it became necessary for Neville Marriner to take on the responsibility of conducting the orchestra in an ever-expanding repertoire. It is now one of the most recorded groups in the world.

Even earlier than the Philomusica, Karl Haas, a refugee from Germany, had in 1943 started the London Baroque Ensemble, which he continued to conduct until 1966. Though now largely forgotten Haas was an early enthusiast and performer of baroque music and made a number of recordings of music by Handel, Bach and Boyce. At that time performances of baroque music were not always historically accurate in style or instrumentation. I remember taking part in a performance in the late 1940s under Karl Haas’s direction of the Overture by Handel for two D clarinets and horn with Jack Brymer and Dennis Brain. In those days no one had D clarinets and so the parts had been transposed so we could play it on our Bb instruments.

Later, in the 1960s Karl Haas and the London Baroque Ensemble recorded and broadcast quite a lot of wind music. He was a lovely man and a fine musician: unfortunately he was an appalling conductor. I particularly recall taking part in the Baroque Ensemble recording of the Dvorak Serenade and in two BBC broadcast performances of the Richard Strauss Sonatina No. 2 ‘from a Happy Workshop’, or Wind Symphony. We recorded the Dvorak without too many problems. However, the broadcasts of the Wind Symphony – ‘live’, as was still normal in the 1950s, were not without incident. The first performance went extremely well until we came to the last movement. Haas managed to conduct a considerable part of this quick movement giving the down beat on the second beat of each bar when we were playing on the first. Fortunately he had as always engaged a very good and experienced group of musicians and though the performance was not perfect it did not ‘come off the rails’. Between the two performances, which were a few days apart, poor Karl had a nasty fall and injured both his arms. He arrived for the second broadcast with both his arms in slings. With a few nods of his head to start off each movement and without any further involvement on his part we were able to give a faultless performance.

Two more orchestras were started in the second half of the 1940s, both of them still active today, though one is now famous under another name. The Goldsbrough Orchestra was created by Lawrence Leonard and Arnold Goldsbrough in 1948 and was the orchestra with which the very young Colin Davis gained his early experience as a conductor. Until the orchestra changed its name to the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO) in 1960 it concentrated mainly on the baroque repertoire. As the ECO it gave its first concert in the Royal Festival Hall with a programme of Monteverdi opera extracts. Within a short while it made its first recordings and toured Britain with Colin Davis conducting and in 1961 became the resident orchestra for Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh and has gone on to become one of the most successful chamber orchestras.

At just about the same time Harry Blech, a very well known violinist, formed the London Mozart Players concentrating on performances of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. This orchestra, too, has survived to the present day though it no longer has the reputation it gained under Blech, who though extremely musical and able to produce excellent results with his own orchestra was a disaster when he came to conduct the Philharmonia. He just could not control a large symphony orchestra.

Click for larger picture

As important for London musicians as the increased number of established orchestras was the enormous amount of free-lance work available: in broadcasting, both radio and TV. There were also a lot of sessions recording the background music for the films made in Britain as well as the music for many Hollywood films. Not only were session rates lower in Britain than in America, but because of their famed sight-reading skill British musicians recorded the music much more quickly, requiring fewer sessions and thereby reducing the cost to American producers even more. The many light music orchestras such as Mantovani’s and George Melachrino’s were still making recordings and there were a lot of sessions backing popular singers and some of the pop groups, when free-lance orchestral musicians (and a few of the best players from the London orchestras) and the best of the dance band and jazz musicians would be engaged.

Although the future for professional orchestral musicians in Britain in the late 1940s and into the 1950s looked much better than at any time in the past, especially for the musicians working in London, the effect of insufficient state and municipal funding, a lack of contemporary orchestral repertoire capable of attracting audiences, and the new communication technologies, were in the following fifty years to bring about a gradual decline in interest and support for serious music that by 2000 had become extremely worrying,

Not enough Money

Ever since the contract symphony orchestras in Britain became full-time, the managements and the musicians playing in them have complained that the funds provided by the state and their local municipality have been insufficient for their needs and the cause of the problems they have always experienced. By 1950 the musicians were already beginning to have financial problems. As the years have gone by, because the increases in subvention have never matched the rising cost of living and mortgages, the situation has continued to get worse. The Musicians’ Union’s attempts to respond to the demands of their members for better salaries and conditions when negotiating with the Association of British Orchestras have never satisfied the players.

For nearly twenty years from 1960, I was one of those involved in negotiations on behalf of the contract orchestras and had to face the fact that the managements just did not have the money required to pay their musicians a more appropriate salary. After one set of negotiations, when we were obliged to agree an increase in their salaries that was very much less than we had been asked to settle for, the members of the orchestras were extremely dissatisfied and accused the MU of not really trying hard enough. One orchestra in particular was extremely vociferous. We arranged a meeting with the members of this orchestra and as one of the negotiators who was an orchestral musician, it fell to my unhappy lot to try to explain why we had not been able to obtain a result more to their liking. I told them that we were convinced there just was not the money available and that in the end the choice we had been forced to take was whether to accept less than a satisfactory increase or put the orchestra out of business. If any of them felt they could do better than we had I would be happy to let them take my place. Accompanied by a good deal of muttering and grim faces this orchestra reluctantly agreed, as the other orchestras had, to accept the increase offered by the management.

The managements were in a similar position in relation to their paymasters as the musicians were with them. Understandably, local authorities, battling with demands for improved services and lower rates, did not put requests for more money for the orchestras high on their list of priorities. In Britain there had never been a tradition of supporting orchestras, as there had been for so long in a number of other European countries, and though shortly after the war it was agreed that up to sixpence (2½p) in the pound could be raised for the arts from the rates, never more than one penny (less than a ½p) was ever raised.

The situation for musicians in the London orchestras was for many years very much better. The managements of each of the orchestras and the players in them were both able to benefit from the great deal of commercial recording and the film sessions for which the whole orchestra would be engaged. The rates for recording and film sessions were higher than for concerts and therefore welcomed by the musicians. The advantage for the management was that instead of incurring the cost involved in putting on a concert they received a booking fee for supplying the orchestra. But all good things must come to an end and as time went by the amount of recording and film work declined.

Because London audiences demanded nothing but the best as far as conductors and soloists were concerned and the fees for engaging these artists were generally greater than the total cost of the whole orchestra, even if the concert was sold out it was not possible to break even let alone make a profit. Without additional funds it would not be possible for any of the orchestras to continue to provide concerts with the international conductors and soloists needed to bring in the audience and with sufficient rehearsals for the orchestras to match the orchestras elsewhere with which they were being compared.

Each of the orchestras, with varying degrees of success, sought sponsorship from corporations or other commercial organisations. As audiences tended to be largely middle-class it was usually organisations and companies with a well-heeled clientele that were willing to enter into schemes of this kind. The advantage to the sponsors was that they received considerable exposure in the press and from advertising in the programmes where they were seen to be supporting cultural events. They also usually received a number of seats for each concert they supported.

The expression ‘there are no free lunches’ has never been truer than where sponsorship is concerned. Sponsors nearly always wanted to have some influence on the programmes of concerts they were sponsoring. The senior members of their management and their most favoured clients who attended the concerts were as a rule not enthusiastic about 20th century and contemporary music. This also played its part in making it more difficult to programme new music. Perhaps because orchestras were in receipt of some financial assistance from the Arts Council and municipalities, post-war music lovers did not continue the patronage from which the LPO and other concert giving bodies had benefited and which had enabled new music to be programmed in the past. The situation in this respect has remained much better in the USA to the benefit of their national composers.

New Repertoire – Contemporary Music

In the early 1950s there were already those, mainly critics, academics and other commentators on the state of the arts and music in particular, complaining that there was insufficient performance of 20th century music. However, when the orchestras attempted to programme works written thirty years earlier by the atonal and serial composers, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg, they played to very reduced audiences. Although Alban Berg’s two operas, Wozzeck and Lulu have become part of the operatic repertoire, fifty years later the general concert-going public still cannot be persuaded to attend concerts that includes this ‘new’ music, not even when most of the rest of the programme is made up of established popular favourites.

When music by the next generation of composers, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Hans Werner Henze and others started to appear from 1950 onwards, to begin with for small or unusual groups of instruments and later for orchestra, though quite often not for the standard symphony orchestra layout, the demand that they should be given a hearing increased. Again, when music of this kind was programmed only very small audiences attended. The orchestras were unable to afford to play to less than half-full houses so that few orchestral concerts included contemporary music.

Only the BBC in Britain was in a position to perform music for which there was a relatively small audience. In 1959 they appointed William Glock (later Sir William) as Controller of Music. It is probably fair to say that no one tried to educate the public to understand and enjoy the music of their own time more than he did during his tenure as Controller between 1959 and 1972. Before going to the BBC he had been a critic for the Daily Telegraph, and then at the Observer until 1945. In 1947 he went to the first Edinburgh Festival to hear Artur Schnabel, with whom he had studied for several years, give a piano recital. Schnabel suggested to him that there should be a summer school in England where audiences and young musicians could have classes and listen to performances by outstanding artists, and said he thought that Glock should direct it.

Glock managed to raise the necessary finance and the following year a Summer School was established at Bryanston in Dorset. Later, in 1953 it moved to Dartington where it is still held each year. Many wonderful musicians have taught and given lectures there: including the composers Boris Blacher, Georges Enesco, Paul Hindemith, Benjamin Britten (who also came as a performer with Peter Pears) and even Igor Stravinsky. In the first year, the Amadeus Quartet was formed there and in the 1950s Elisabeth Schumann came to give recitals on several occasions as did Artur Rubinstein and Clifford Curzon. This tradition, started by Glock, has been carried on to the present day with the best composers, instrumentalists and quartets continuing to inspire generations of musicians and music lovers.

Glock’s thirteen years as Controller of Music at the BBC were far more controversial. When asked what he thought as Controller he should offer listeners, he famously replied ‘What they would like tomorrow.’ Though he transformed the annual Prom seasons and the regular broadcasts by the BBC Orchestras by introducing music by contemporary composers who were writing atonal music and using ‘progressive techniques’ and infrequently broadcasting music by composers writing more ‘conventional’ music, his efforts in this direction do not seem to have had much effect on the general music public’s willingness to listen to the music he felt they should like.

By 1953 the then young Pierre Boulez was already establishing himself as the most radical and fiercely polemical of all the young avant garde composers born in Europe during the mid-nineteen twenties. As a young man Boulez was extremely outspoken. In the 1960s his impatience at what he saw as the conservatism and inflexibility of music organisations, symphony orchestras in particular, led to two of his best-known quotes from that period: ‘It is not devilry, but only the most ordinary common sense which makes me say that, since the discoveries made by the Viennese, all composition other than twelve-tone is useless.’ He claimed that the simplest solution to the opera problem would be ‘to blow up the opera houses.’ He must have been glad his advice was not taken before he agreed to conduct in the opera houses in Bayreuth, Paris and the UK.

As part of his campaign to influence what audiences ‘would like tomorrow’ Glock decided in 1963 to appoint Boulez as the Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and then, in 1972, as their Chief Conductor. This appointment was welcomed in the music press but met with a very mixed reception from the orchestra. A few players, including my old friend Jack Brymer who went to the LSO, left the orchestra to find employment in a less austere environment.

next page



We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger