A post title lifted from The Solitary Walker. I've been reading through his series of posts about his favourite music and felt moved to emulate it. I often post here about music: usually, however, I write on a "bobbing cork" basis, about something I'm preoccupied or involved with at that moment. I thought it would be a good idea to go back and ask myself what it is I like in music and why.
What do I like? I had a friend many years ago, a sax player, who always maintained that it was the duty of all musicians to take an interest in all music. He had a point. However, I can definitely identify preferences!
I was lucky in that I went to a very musical school. Not only did it provide the choir for Lichfield Cathedral (I wasn't in it), but also pupils were expected to play an instrument if they possibly could. Break-time practice was compulsory, and the school orchestra played at assembly on Saturday (yes, Saturday) mornings. I had a violin shoved under my chin, but had not played it long when the double bass player left. Mr Broadhurst felt my collar as I left chapel one morning: I was the tallest violinist. Did I want to play the double bass?
Playing easy arrangements of classical music in the orchestra (I particularly remember Sullivan's Iolanthe Overture) meant that I had my ears tuned to its language at an impressionable age. In my early teens I raided the local record library and discovered Twentieth Century classical music. I was well and truly hooked on it, particularly Michael Tippett and Stockhausen.
The picture is of the same LP cover as the one I found at the library. I have always envied the man his music room (although not his wartime experience of imprisonment).
I can't find it on the internet in a form I can embed into this page, but if you go to Schott's excellent Tippett sound sample page and scroll down to Symphony No 2 (Allegro Vigoroso) you can hear a generous sample of it for yourself. There's loads of bits of Tippett to explore there, too. The earlier music (like this symphony) is the "easiest" to listen to; the later is great too, I think, when you get your ears round it. By the time he wrote his Third Symphony, his sound world was beginning to get more demanding.
As I said, I agreed with my sax player friend, and I regret not listening to more popular music at the time as well. I had to catch up later (and more of that later, if I keep this series going!). I also regret not getting into jazz more when I was younger. However, I don't regret jumping into the "deep end" of classical music, and I've loved Tippett's music with a passion ever since. I now have two copies of my own of that Argo record - just in case one gets scratched.
In the unlikely event of you liking this piece and wanting a recording of it, go for the Colin Davis/LSO version discussed here: it's far more exciting than the version conducted by Tippett himself. That version is just too slow! Who can blame him? The music is fiendishly difficult and it was recorded live.
4 years ago