Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A catholic music taste - part 2

Despite (or because of) the gentle persuasion of our school teachers to steer us away from the “perils” of rock ‘n roll, I liked the “devil’s music” (although my mother wasn't happy about that - I suspect today's mothers feel the same)! At the same time, I was still enjoying choral music at church, and slowly graduating from light classical to more serious stuff with a special affection for the music of two of the B's - Beethoven and Brahms.

The late fifties and early sixties saw a revolution in popular music and my father decided to purchase a radiogram. Despite my enthusiasm, I think it was because one of his customers had given him a large collection of 78s that really persuaded him. It was a grand piece of furniture, finished in walnut veneer with a large central speaker and manufactured by Pye. I was about 13, just in time for me to start spending my hard-earned wages (I had three jobs whilst still at school) on 45s. Can anyone reading this remember the first record they bought? Mine was Duane Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” – not exactly a musical masterpiece, but it appealed to me at the time. My early rock ‘n roll favorites were popular English rockers Billy Fury and Marty Wilde and of course, the King, Elvis Presley.

By the time I left Great Yarmouth College to start on my five-year apprenticeship in the printing trade I had purchased a
Dansette “portable” record player — state of the art, 3-speed with auto changer of which over one million were sold in the 1950s and 1960s. I could now play my music to my heart’s content in my own room – something of a novelty in the early sixties. Apart from rock ‘n roll, there developed another musical craze in England around this time – Trad-Jazz! It was based on traditional Dixieland jazz and there sprouted a multitude of bands across the country. Consisting of a standard line-up of trumpet, trombone and clarinet and backed by drums, base and banjo and sometimes piano. Three of the best known and most successful happen to be still going strong – Chris Barber, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk. Needless to say, I soon got hooked. This gave me a taste of many traditional ragtime tunes and this coupled with my admiration of Glenn Miller gradually pulled me away from 60s pop and more and more into jazz, blues and swing.

Johannes Brahms - isn't this a geat portrait?

A work colleague was a great classical devotee and during one of our many lunch break discussions invited me to travel to London’s Festival Hall with him and his wife. The program included Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique and Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn, both still favorites. Hooked again! I lost no time in subscribing to “The Gramophone” magazine and soon was ordering LPs (as we called them then) of more and more classical music. The music of the greats soon boomed from my Dansette. I say boomed because at that time I loved the more “stirring” orchestral stuff, obviously a legacy of the brass band concerts, and I didn’t yet appreciate the subtleties of piano sonatas, chamber music and the like. That was to come with age!

To be continued . . . . . . . . . . .

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