Monday, 27 February 2012

Wanting to write about the Opera, but getting waylaid

Dad spent a lot of time alone (by choice) in the room we called the kitchen.  That’s where we ate; the food was cooked in another room called the scullery).

Most often Dad would be listening to classical music on the old BBC “Third Programme”.  

His preferences were well boundaried.  He did not care for chamber music, opera (1) or ballet (2). 

Dad favoured the great orchestral works: - the music of Handel, Bach, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. 


He also had a special fondness for choral works.


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(1)              Except Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, and some of the orchestral overtures to operas by Rossini, Wagner.

(2)             He shared the British working class prejudice against ballet.


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In some ways I breathed in a love of classical music alongside Dad’s tobacco smoke in that old kitchen. 


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I was also blessed with school teachers who loved, shared and taught the classical repertoire, such as these:


(Miss Lucy Fenlon (3) at Greenbank Infants School, 


Mr. Sydney Richards (4) at Coombe Road Junior School and 


Mr. W.J. Richards (5) at Fairfield Grammar School) 


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(3)  I remember sitting on the wooden floor of the assembly hall under Miss Fenlon’s tutelage to listen to Tchaikovsky’s “Peter and the Wolf”.  It may have been played on those old 12” 78 rpm records, or perhaps it was broadcast from the BBC on the radio service for schools they ran in those days.

(4)  We sang Schubert’s  (*) “The Trout” in an arrangement for children’s voices. “Syd” Richards’ wife accompanied us on piano and I thought that her playing was just the coolest thing ever

( 5)“Dickie” Richards headed a first class choral music programme at Fairfield.  I have the fondest memories of a school concert at Bristol’s “Colston Hall” at which we sang “The Heavens are telling the Glory of God” from Haydn’s oratorio “The Creation”. This was especially sweet since my Jewish friend Stephen could sing a text which was not specifically Christian.   And the FGS choir under W.J. Richards was selected to be part of the double chorus “Come ye daughters share my mourning” when Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was performed by the Bristol Choral Society.  Heady days indeed for a 14 year old!


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This blog entry is a bit like many sermons – it started with one thing in mind, but ended with another.  


I had intended to write about my visit to the Sarasota Opera yesterday, but I got waylaid in memory land.  There will be more tomorrow (I hope) about the Opera.


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