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BILL NEWMAN looks back at
undeservedly neglected musicians



Basil Cameron

The scene was the Central Hall in Chatham, not far from London, and the occasions were for me the regular three-monthly visits by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1947 to 1949 they provided my first and vivid introduction to professional live concerts, apart from the yearly events by the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dr Leslie Russell.

I well remember the stair climb to one of the creaking balcony seats that looked down directly to the orchestra, already seated on the stage. Alan Gregory, who I got to know very well on a daily basis when he joined EMI's advertising division, was then Assistant Editor of Philharmonic News. He also sold concert tickets directly to the public from a wooden table positioned at the head of the stairs.

David Wise was then the LPO's leader. Principal viola Frederick Riddle was sitting proudly to his right, always half smiling at a colleague's comment, while Boris Rickelman, having taken a spotlessly white hankerchief from his top pocket, was busy with a last shine to his cello, and keeping his section in fits of laughter. Behind them the wind principals: Richard Adeney, flute, blond, slim and debonair; the young Roger Lord -- prior to his later fame as an oboist with the LSO; Maurice Cody, clarinet, and John Alexandra with bassoon blended tones in sweet harmony. Francis Bradley was first horn, and I was to meet and chat with him in later years, when I invited him to the LSO Club. He was then ending his professional days playing with the ENO at London's Colosseum, but in the forties and fifties was a stalwart member of the LPO Board.

First Trumpet was Eric Bravington, who, following an illness later, became Managing Director. He brought the orchestra to unprecedented heights of international recognition, thus removing the stigma of crisis in which they were involved since 1940. The orchestra's Chairman then was horn player Charles Gregory, but their Secretary was the hard-working visionary Thomas Russell, whose books on that era were an essential part of every music lover's collection.

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Copyright © 29 March 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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