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Seen & Heard
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   Len Mullenger


Antony Hopkins (1921–2014)

Through the fifties and sixties the highspot on a Sunday was a half-hour broadcast by Antony Hopkins Talking about Music. This was the composer and conductor Antony Hopkins not the well-known actor, but they both had in common a calm mellifluous speaking voice. Each Sunday a work that was going to be broadcast later that week was discussed in detail without becoming too technical and without once talking down to the audience. The talks were accompanied on the piano or by recordings. Two that particularly stick in my mind were Britten's War Requiem in 1962 (a two-parter) and Bartok's Sonata for two pianos and percussion.  The description ran along the lines of ...'imagine you are walking down a country lane on a very dark night gently feeling your way, when suddenly a bramble hits you full in the face'. Play the opening of the first movement to hear how apt that description is.

The programme ran for years (AH estimated over 1000 broadcasts)  but it seems the BBC never had faith in them and only ever issued contracts for three month periods. There was never any real attempt to market the programmes, certainly not by the BBC,  although I seem to recall one LP that was  issued and Hopkins wrote several 'Talking About ...' books. I have never understood this and Talking about Music is fondly remembered by all musical acquaintances of similar age to myself and would stand repeating even now.

The programmes have been sorely missed.

Len Mullenger

see also CD Antony Hopkins: Portrait of a composer