<< -- 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.
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.
Copyright © 29 March 2002
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
& Vision home
Victor Herbert >>