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Mr Standford then observes how some of these giants abused (although he does not actually use this word) their positions of power to the disadvantage of others operating in their own fields of musical activity; there are undoubtedly numerous instances of this, but there are surely also plenty of cases that demonstrate the opposite. In a recently published volume on conductors, for example, Richard Strauss is finally revealed as one who tried to encourage and promote younger composers' music. Leonard Bernstein, as a relatively young giant, did the same for composers only slightly older than himself in a most remarkable way -- who else could one imagine conducting the world première of Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie, commissioning and conducting Elliott Carter's Concerto for Orchestra and, in between, introducing audiences to Mahler while at the same time giving us On the Town and West Side Story? -- here, then, appears to be another musical giant who used his position to the advantage of others far more than he employed it to his own personal ends (and, since BBC's nightly 'British Music Focus' series commencing 1 December 2005 includes a rare broadcast of the only commercial recording of Brian's monumental 'Gothic' Symphony, it seems timely to throw in my personal fond wish that Lenny had not only declared -- as he is supposed to have done -- that this is one of the great 20th century symphonies but actually provided the evidence by conducting it!).

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Copyright © 30 November 2005 Alistair Hinton, Bath UK


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