Monday, November 24, 2008

A catholic music taste - part 3

My love of "stirring" music continued. Brass and military band music, plus the powerful symphonic compositions of Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky were, and still are, favorites. The brass and military band concerts almost always included one of Suppé's [pictured here] rousing overtures, Light Cavalry, Poet and Peasant, etc. or an overture from an opera, Rossini's William Tell (naturally), The Thieving Magpie, etc. or of a Wagnerian masterpiece such as Lohengrin.

So opera was gradually introduced to me, albeit via the overtures and/or intermezzos. Again my Scottish work colleague, Jack McDonald, came to my aid when suggesting a visit to a touring version of Verdi's Rigoletto at the Theatre Royal in Norwich. I at once fell for the wonderful music and drama of Verdi. He remains my favorite operatic composer to this day. You will note that so far, my favorite composers were all of what in my opinion was a "romantic" school - Brahms and Verdi especially.

So listening to operatic arias, I began to appreciate that to be great, music didn't necessarily have to be loud or stirring. It can be just as powerful when quiet, gentle and serene. I then experimented with older composers, Bach, Mozart, Haydn - especially their symphonic works in the case of the latter, then more concertos, quartets and sonatas.

The violin concertos of Brahms, Mendelssohn and Dvořák were played on the Dansette until they virtually wore out! Another favorite was Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor. However, I can never hear this wonderful work now without thinking of the famous Morcambe and Wise TV sketch with André Previn [watch here], well worth watching, especially if you've never seen it before, although if you are English, this is highly unlikely.

Meanwhile I was still listening to "pop" and the latest trend in the alternative to rock 'n roll in England at the time, "Folk". This, like Trad Jazz during the early sixties became very popular and many folk clubs were formed, usually meeting in the upstairs rooms of the good old English pub. My best friend and I, later to become my brother-in-law, quickly became members of a local club and visited several others in neighboring towns, joining in the rousing choruses, swilling our dimpled mugs of good old English ale and wearing the uniform of "folkies" - a heavy cream colored Aran sweater and brown corduroy trousers! I cringe with embarrassment when I think of how we thought we were so "cool".

Popular folk singer and groups of the time were The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makim, Ewan MacColl, The Spinners (not to be confused with The Detroit Spinners), Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the American folk stars of the time Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary and the wonderful Tom Paxton.

To be continued . . . . . . . . . . . oh yes, there's lots more!

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