I took a degree in English Literature and then
trained as a social worker, retiring in 2016. Classical music
has always been part of my life. I play the piano and I used to
play the clarinet, from which came an interest in wind instruments.
The first recordings I knew were my fathers 78s of Beethoven
symphonies and some Mozart and Brahms. The first two records that
I owned were of Beethoven sonatas and Stravinskys Rite of
Spring. I started learning about music from some volumes of Toveys
essays which we had in the house, and I still turn to him. He
basically taught me about music from Bach to Brahms. Not long
after came Hartogs European music in the twentieth century,
which started me off on discovering more recent music. Then there
was Wagner and I remember the excitement with which we greeted
the arrival of each instalment of the Solti Ring.
It is difficult to convey how hard it was in the 1960s and 1970s
to locate and hear recordings of recent and contemporary works.
Vinyl LPs were fragile and expensive and composers now accepted
as classics, such as Bartók, Stravinsky, the Second Viennese
School and Messiaen, were hard to find. Now works such as Strausss
Elektra, Schoenbergs Erwartung and Bergs Wozzeck are
for me both examples of expressionist horror and also dear old
friends. I have discovered early music and have a particular affection
for Tudor Latin-texted church music, Jacobean viol fantasias and
the French baroque.
Work pressures and the cost meant that I could not often go to
concerts, operas and ballets, though, looking back, I seem to
have gone to a fair number. However, BBC Radio 3 and recordings
have always been the way I discover music and some of my favourite
composers and works I have never heard live in the concert room.
These include the Franck string quartet, anything by Chausson
or Frank Martin and even some Beethoven symphonies and quartets.
I am particularly drawn to works off the beaten track and, of
course, for these, recordings are ideal.
Outside music I continue to be a student of English Literature
and have a particular interest in the work of Charles Williams,
best remembered as one of the Inklings circle around C. S. Lewis.
I also attend classes reading Latin literature and some day will
take up ancient Greek again.