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In 1956 appeared The Hoffnung Music Festival containing
brilliant sections on conductors of the time. Adrian Boult with shackled wrists
performs Non Troppo. Naturally, Elegantmente, had to be Malcolm
Sargent: Beecham performs Maestoso: Stravinsky illustrates Preciso
by conducting with a metronome, while Barbirolli sharpens the tip of his baton
with a pencil sharpener. Under the heading Bel Canto a magnificent tenor
enhances his performance by adjusting knobs attached to his waistcoat labelled
on and off, sob, wobble and pppfff, while a piano accompanist sits under an
umbrella to protect himself from the vocalised aerosol of an over-large soprano.
Vocal ranges of the prima-donnas also appear somewhat alarming!
Mainly instrumental we find a piscatorial Trout Quintet casting
fishing lines into the grand piano and a quartet for Hoovers and optional
floor polisher (later to be realized in Malcolm Arnold's Grand, Grand
Festival Overture scored for these very instruments and full orchestra
and written for the first Hoffnung concert of 1956). Haydn is discovered
playing the timps in his Surprise Symphony and a sad percussionist,
incarcerated behind his tubular bells sheds a lonely tear.
In 1957 Hoffnung gives his new book the dignity of alphabetic
sequence. The Companion to Music is a lexicon bursting with musical
ideas. Under C for Concert-goers, are some teasing sketches of the
avid score reader, the over-enthusiastic applauder, the loud and uninhibited
cougher, the irritating time-beater and also of the lady with clicking needles
who somehow manages to produce a beautifully knitted trumpet. Also under
C are some wonderful lampoons of Critics. J for Jazz treats us to
pages bursting with rhythm and syncopation. In a section headed Orchestral
Thoughts instrumentalists are given the opportunity to publicize ways
in which to settle old scores with their conductor, while in similar vein
under V for Volante a carefully directed cello lands on a startled
conductor's rostrum, piercing his score, dart-like. Attached to it is a luggage
label marked BEWARE!
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