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Harvey (HD) did most of the talking -- and he is fascinating to just listen to -- but of equal importance are Isabel (IB)'s elucidatory comments and verification of statements. You will quickly grasp the format as we proceed! Harvey came to the Academy in 1949; Isabel in 1950.

Harvey Dagul: A couple of years ago, we celebrated fifty years of presenting concerts together.
Isabel Beyer: For what it is worth, we are the longest performing duo in the entire world.
Harvey Dagul: The first piece we played was a transcription of Beethoven's Egmont Overture.

Bill Newman: How do you go about matching each other's tone, style and concept?
IB: First of all, our playing is completely different. We don't have the same ideas, so we argue, but this happens with String Quartets. But as we play ... we balance with each other.

BN: Is it the fact that the longer you have known each other, the more happy you become?
HD: Happy is the wrong word in this context. We compromise. It depends on the context of the argument, one way or another. Matters of philosophy ... and our attitudes towards music didn't occur to us when we were younger. We just made a pleasant sound, but never thought in high level terms.
IB: But we did; certainly in those Mozart and Schubert Sonatas!
HD: ... OK -- but I am really talking about those first recitals, after we had first met! They were a fun thing, but we did a North London competition where one of the adjudicators said there was a wonderful romantic tension between the two players. Schumann's Andante and Variations. And that was when we first started to find we were getting serious. We did a few concerts at the Academy -- the first was 8 November 1951, which included a Mozart Sonata.

HD: I had to go into the Army for a couple of years. Afterwards, I had to earn a living and buy a house. I went into teaching and did vocal work in a factory and schools. We didn't have time to practise, and Isabel was practically teaching full time. This lasted for two and half years, and at first I worked at Augeners Music Shop in London. Then I saw this job advertised in the factory at the incredible sum of eight pounds per week. So, I bought a house in the area, and we settled down to earning a living, having children.
IB: We did the BBC Audition.
HD: Yes, we now found we had more time to practise, and we actually passed our first, then second audition. We were given our first concert in 1958.
IB: John Manduell, Principal of the Academy became our first BBC producer.
HD: He gave us a couple of concerts, and I was a Junior Teacher at that time. They stuck this radio up in the school, and all the kids had to listen to it. Later, we did live concerts from the Camden Theatre, which the BBC took over. I had to bring my mother home to look after the kids, then we had to go on my motorbike in the rain to the hall. I remember distinctly that afterwards we went into a café and were both in tears -- it was so depressing.
IB: It was terrible, playing with nobody there. Since then, we didn't mind, and have got used to that. Then, we did a lot of concerts at Pebble Mill. We had the same lighting technicians on each occasion. We quite enjoyed them, and they always remembered us.

IB: About this time, we met Paul Hamburger. He was lovely man, and before he died he gave us some scores with his writing on them.
BN: Hamburger broadcast with his partner Liza Fuchsova in piano duets, and was accompanist to several singers and instrumentalists.
HD: He was the person who introduced me to Moszkowski's music, which I didn't know at the time. I thought it was most wonderful, and we went to him for a few lessons.
IB: He would tell us that there were no such things as second rate composers or performers. As duettists we had to do it all. You can turn them into marvellous music.
BN: Today, everyone is made out to be marvellous.
IB: We'll see!

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Copyright © 20 January 2005 Bill Newman, Edgware UK


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