Music and Vision homepage All Risks Musical - an irreverent guide to the music profession by Alice McVeigh


<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    EPISODES FROM A MEMORY BANK


Somehow, I still clearly visualise faces and happenings from this era, right up through the 50s and 60s to the early 70s. This experience broadened one's appreciation and knowledge of music. Eduard van Beinum, the LPO's Chief Conductor in a high-necked shirt conducting Nimrod from the Enigma Variations in memory of sailors who perished in a sea disaster. Anthony Baines, Anthony Collins, Anatole Fistoulari, Gaston Poulet, and the wonderful Nikolai Malko who went on to direct a memorable all-Tchaikovsky orchestral series at the Royal Albert Hall.

Sir Adrian Boult, retired by the BBC, became their most admired director and supporter. A huge notice outside the RAH with his name alongside Dame Myra Hess and Louis Kentner invited the musical public to patronise a series of concerts to 'Save the Orchestra'.

Serge Koussevitsky arrived to conduct four memorable concerts at the hall, starting with Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, and ending with Beethoven's Ninth. My Grammar School art master Vernon Fawcett introduced me to his brother, Victor, then second double bass. Standing at the Artists' Entrance we turned instinctively to see the presence of a dominating figure in a huge fur coat and bowler hat smoking a large cigar. 'My God, he has arrived and the whole building has gone quiet'! Koussevitsky's eyes were like gimlets as he surveyed the scene.

In the passage of years, however, a musical figure with a quieter personality deserves inclusion amongst the elite conductor-artists of merit. Basil Cameron, by his appearance and directions from the rostrum was a complete opposite of the orchestra's founder, Sir Thomas Beecham. The extrovert and brilliant Beecham had formed his Royal Philharmonic by the time I experienced his conducting. Wags cannily compared Anthony Collins with Sir Thomas from the front and Boult from behind.

Basil Cameron

Cameron was gentle, undemonstrative, kind and consistently helpful to soloists like Benno Moiseiwitsch, Dame Moura Lympany, Colin Horsley, and Leonard Kogan. A recording coupling of concertos by Mozart (K449), Stravinsky Capriccio -- both with Horsley, and Prokofiev Violin Concerto 2 -- Kogan must be considered. The tenor Richard Lewis, having made successful debuts in Britten operas, was on hand to sing Handel arias with the LPO at Central Hall, Westminster. A happy event.

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Copyright © 29 March 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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