Tschaikov in the early1990s
must be in the Genes
Sir Thomas Beecham’s return
to the London Philharmonic Orchestra in
1944. The author’s family roots – the
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the 1890s,
escaping the East European Jewish pogroms,
arriving as refugees in England near the
turn of the century, playing in cinema
orchestras and other groups in England
in the first two decades of the 20th
BBC Symphony Orchestra
The author’s father joins
the new BBC Symphony Orchestra as Principal
Clarinet. BBC Symphony Orchestra in the
1930s – conditions, players, conductors
(including Sir Adrian Boult, Arturo Toscanini
and Willem Mengelberg), operations, sections
A, B, C, D, E, repertoire performed, and
the author’s memories of Toscanini
War 1939 –1945
The Author wants to learn
the Clarinet. His father is against it
– he hopes his son will be a doctor. The
author’s school is evacuated and he plays
in the school orchestra. The joy of playing
chamber music. He hears a recording of
Menuhin: his future is sealed.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra
in Bristol and Bedford. Small ‘orchestras’
in restaurants – Lyons Corner Houses –
Alfredo Campoli, Albert Sammons, Max Jaffa.
Author at Royal College of Music. Many
musicians now in the armed forces provides
author with opportunity of professional
experience that leads to full-time orchestra
joys of touring
The pleasure and hazards
of touring with London orchestras and
the pre-war BBC Symphony Orchestra.. The
Wessex Philharmonic Orchestra touring
in war-time – its musicians, conductors
(a young Reginald Goodall), soloists and
repertoire. Experience in this orchestra
leads to many distinguished careers. Author
leaves to join London Philharmonic Orchestra.
London Philharmonic Orchestra
History 1932 until 1939
when it was obliged to go into voluntary
liquidation. The orchestra reforms and
is administered by the players themselves.
J B Priestley, Jack Hylton, Sir Henry
Wood. Life in a self-managed orchestra.
1944 Sir Thomas returns to his old orchestra.
He leaves and in 1946 forms the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra. 1947 the author
The Beecham Wind Orchestra
– a unique wind ensemble. Memories and
anecdotes from musicians who played for
him, including my father (from 1912 onwards)
and myself (from 1944 until his last concert
in 1960). His rehearsal methods, repertoire
and influence on all who played for him.
Playing for him at concerts, on recordings,
film and TV. His last concert.
Philharmonic Orchestra’s 1950 American
Beecham’s intention, from
1944, to take an orchestra to the USA.
64 day tour from New England, New York,
down the East coast to New Orleans – experience
of hearing genuine trad jazz – segregation
in the South (and in the North) – up through
the mid-west to Chicago and back to New
Orchestra Conductor: a Unique Phenomenon
The conductor’s authority,
control and power. Orchestra/Conductor
relationship changes over the past 60
years. Wagner, Stokowski, Beecham and
others. Schwazkoft recalls singing for
Karajan. International questionnaire produces
Great and the Good
Playing for great, good,
very good and outstanding conductors –
in the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic
and Philharmonia and elsewhere – Victor
de Sabata, Bruno Walter, Charles Munch,
Thomas Beecham, Herbert von Karajan, Otto
Klemperer, Lorin Maazel, Colin Davis,
Simon Rattle and many more.
Playing for Benjamin Britten,
Malcolm Arnold, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland,
Michael Tippet, William Walton, Ralph
Vaughan Williams, John Cage, Igor Stravinsky.
The London Philharmonic,
Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia – between
1904 and 1963 all become self-managed.
Despite financial problems – lack of subsidy
and patronage – the orchestras survive.
The Goodman Committee. Comparison with
orchestras in Europe and USA – their financial
support and conditions.
Musicians playing in theatres
– incidental music, opera, musicals; in
Music Halls – conditions – playing for
jugglers, trapeze artists and the Diaghilev
Ballet Company and Sir Harry Lauder; for
the ‘silent cinema’; for dancing.
Recordings – from wax
cylinders to the most recent innovations.
Early recordings – folk music, Caruso,
Chaliapin, Joachim. 78s, LPs, tape, stereo.
The dominance of the producer and engineer
– the manipulation of performances. Most
music now heard on recordings.
Changing attitude to the
status of musicians. In the early 20th
century two strands of employment start
to emerge. Playing in an orchestra – satisfaction
and frustration – how different sections
of the orchestra are affected. Ever higher
standards of technique.
Pleasure of Taking Part
The delight of playing
with great artists. Wonderful solo violinists,
cellists, pianists – Heifetz, Oistrakh,
Menuhin, Perlman … Fournier, Tortelier,
du Pré, Rostropovich … Rubinstein,
Solomon, Currzon, Barenboim …
and Brass Soloists and my Colleagues in
So many fine soloists
have come out of the orchestra – Galway,
Goossens, Brymer, Camden, Brooke, Brain,
Bean, Parikian, Pini, and many more.
Glyndebourne and Edinburgh
The voice – the most beautiful
instrument of all – heard to perfection
in a delightful opera house in the country
and at the Edinburgh Festival. An incredible
catalogue of artists singing Rossini,
Mozart and Strauss.
Singers: Recordings, Films and Concerts
The privilege of taking
part in performances in the opera house,
recording and film studio and at concerts
with superb artists – legendary singers
from 1943 until 1979.
Music not accepted as
a profession in the 19th century.
Seeking professional identity – various
associations – the London Orchestral Association,
Archer Street, the ISM and MU. The effect
of broadcasting and recording. Pirate,
commercial and local radio. BBC radio
Opportunities for learning
an instrument – in Brass and Military
bands. Music colleges and Teacher Training
colleges. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
– Making Music(1965) – Enquiry
into Training Musicians (1975). The
BBC Training Orchestra. The National Centre
for Orchestral Studies (NCOS).
longer a performer
The National Centre –
Conservatoires around the world. Hong
Kong – orchestral problems. The Chinese
Orchestra. Financial difficulties at the
NCOS. Competitions – opposing views.
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.
Music Preserved – a new
archive. Performance Practice and Audience
Expectations – have they changed? Archive-videos.
The Oral History of Musicians in Britain.
Orchestras face increasing
financial problems – reduction in recording
work. Classic FM. Raymond Gubbay. ‘Classical-crossover’.
Jazz – dance bands – popular singers.
The arrival of pop and rock music. World
The influence of– folk
music – popular music on classical – classical
music on popular. Acoustic and electronic
instruments. Electronic Music. The three
Tenors – ‘popular’ classical music. Increasing
‘classical-crossover’ – steep decline
in symphonic recordings. Up dating opera
productions. Hope for the future.