Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Bob Briggs - Musicweb reviewer
1954 - 2011

A tribute

 

BOB BRIGGS

I was born in Bradford, England, in 1954 into an unmusicial family, was almost immediately adopted into an equally unmusical family and was raised in Keighley, a town of 60,000 inhabitants on the side of the Pennines. My earliest musical memories are of the BBC Light Programme playing at home as my mother worked – Gilbert and Sullivan, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and the many and various light pieces which filled the station schedule – Robert Farnon, Frederic Curzon, Eric Coates and so many more. When I was 11 years of age I went to the local grammar school and had my musical epiphany. One music lesson (together with 29 unruly boys who couldn't have cared less about classical music) our teacher didn’t want to teach us so he simply turned on the radio and told us to listen to the Eroica Symphony which was about to be played. It is certain that those 29 unruly boys were grateful to leave the room afterwards, but I wanted more and, here’s one which needs further examination, the following weekend I went to the local music shop in town, bought a 12-stave manuscript book and filled all 64 pages with a Violin Concerto. I don’t know how I did it but I did, and I followed this with Symphonies, Concertos, Suites, piano works, choral works. Hats off, gentlemen, a Prodigy!! Not so, I’m afraid. What I did know was that I could read a score and I knew what I was writing but it was rubbish, of course – I wrote chords for a single clarinet for, at that time, I knew nothing about the capabilities of instruments. However, with help and encouragement from Brian Payne, my music teacher, I started reading scores and learning about orchestration and instrumentation and finding out what was and wasn’t possible. I also started taking cello lessons, which was wasted on me as I have never had sufficient patience to sit down, alone, and practice – but I always had time to sit alone and write music.

In 1967 I started attending the Hallé Orchestra subscription concerts at Bradford’s St George’s Hall and was lucky enough to hear John Barbirolli’s last four seasons with the orchestra. I have always felt myself to have been privileged to have met Barbirolli a few times and he was very kind to this eager schoolboy.

When I was 17 I went to Huddersfield Technical College, and, subsequently, Huddersfield Polytechnic (as it then was) where I had the great good fortune to study composition (and so much else) with the great Harold Truscott, to whom I owe almost everything musical in my life. He opened my ears to so many musical things and was the catalyst for my continuing interest in literature.

After studies I gave many concerts as a singer, specialising in English music of the 20th century, and continued writing, gaining performances in this country and the USA and Australia and being commissioned from the Bromsgrove Festival (my proper 6th Symphony), the USA and Iceland! At a concert of my music in London in about 1982 Roger Wright played a piano piece of mine.

At 25 I gave up writing music – I realized that my work simply wasn’t good enough and I was never going to set the Thames on fire with my genius – and started writing about music – for Records and Recording, the very short lived Classical Sounds, sleeve notes for LPs and the odd programme book for concerts.

It now seems incredible that I have been listening to music, and been involved with it in one way and another, for over forty years. And I am still a very young man! For the past twenty years I have been selling books on the Southbank Book Market, which is situated under Waterloo Bridge, outside the National Film Theatre (or, as it is now known, the BFI on the Southbank) on the south bank of the Thames, and because of this I have done various BBC TV and Radio spots talking about books. In 2002/2003 I wrote and presented 52 two-hour radio programmes concerned with the byways of music in the first 50 years of the 20th century. The byways were such that if there wasn’t a recording of a certain work in my own collection then it simply didn’t exist! Talk about a personal view.

I don’t have favourite composers or writers, but there are certain artists whose work I couldn’t live without – Haydn, Carl Nielsen, Korngold, Weill, Peter Sculthorpe, Debussy, Grainger, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, English composers of the Elgar/Delius/Bax/Tippett generation, Harry Warren, Billy Mayerl, The Who, The Rolling Stones (up to and including the Sticky Fingers album and their latest CD), much 60s pop, Christopher Isherwood, Ed McBain, Philip K Dick. My Desert Island pieces of music are Korngold’s magnificent Symphony, Debussy’s inimitable Des pas sur la niege (one of the most perfect works of music I know), Delius Brigg Fair, Haydn Symphony No.48 in the Max Goberman recording (just thrill to those high horns!), Weill Dreigroschenoper (in the Frankfurt Opera recording on Fontana, where the soloists scream the songs at you in a very Brechtian way), Schubert String Quartet in A minor, D804, Frank Bridge Enter Spring and Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony for the counterpoint at the end.

I was given the part of bookseller in the 2006 film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but Warner Brothers scrapped the scene two days before filming on the grounds that it was too expensive! I have been a committed lifelong Marxist as I consider Groucho, Harpo and Chico to be three of the funniest men who ever lived. Since 1972 I have shaved seven times and "enjoyed" six haircuts. I lived in St Tropez in 1984, where I worked as a chef in a bistro. I now live alone in east London as my daughter has gone to university. My son recently had his first book of short stories published by Sixties Press.

I love cooking and hate gardening. My two most secret secrets are that I have a desire to be a stand-up comedian and I fear baldness. Now they’re no longer secrets so I shall have to find some more.

As a wise old man once said, "ahbudee...ahbudee, ahbudeeuh…that's all folks!"

 



EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools





Return to Index