A serendipitous moment.

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RE: A serendipitous moment.

JKH wrote:

...and those of a certain vintage will remember a programme called 'Your Hundred Best Tunes' introduced by the melifluous tones of Alan Keith.

I have Alan Keith's book, also called Your Hundred Best Tunes (1975).  Here's something from the preface:

'When a radio programme has been running for a considerable time, as this one has, and prompted thousands of letters, the relationship [with your audience] becomes a very personal one, and you are bound to develop a rapport with your listeners. ... The correspondence has shown that this programme of 'Pops for Squares', as the Radio Times once called it, has a wide appeal to listeners of all ages and in all walks of life.  Especially have I been pleased to receive requests for the list of 'top tunes' from a number of local education authorities, whose intention it was to use it as a starting point for a new musical appreciation curriculum'.

RE: A serendipitous moment.

VicJayL wrote:

 I am rather proud that towards the end, boys, most of whom are probably in prison now, demanded - yes, demanded - Pachebell's "Canon" before they would consent to put pen to paper.   Yes, I am proud of that.



And rightly so, if you don't mind my saying so.


RE: A serendipitous moment.

Thank you, JKH!


RE: A serendipitous moment.


Yes, well done Vic, for helping those lads to see the value of that piece of music, and others that you used!

I take your point about the love of serious music being a rather guilty secret that we carry around with us...How many times in my life, in conversation, when 'what kind of music do you like?' crops up, have I said 'Oh, I have very wide tastes. I like pop, and jazz, and classical...' which is true of course, it is just that I am not usually brave enough to put classical first on the list!

Maybe I need to get over that! It's just that assumption isn't it that others will see it as 'highbrow'.

Interesting thread - it is as if many of us have had these moments of illumination, recognition, connection etc...What do we call them? Epiphanies, conversions, glimpses?

No - let's just call them serendipitous moments of course!


Hi Ludwg. Hpe u don mind me sendin u a txt mes. How u doin? - Yrs. Frz Scbrt.

RE: A serendipitous moment. RE: A serendipitous moment.

I thought that I (sadly enough) hadn’t had a similar serendipitous moment until I read Vic’s reference to Pirates of Penzance which reminded me of something that happened a long time ago. (Incidentally, much credit to you for the Pachelbel incident.)


It must have been sometime in the ‘seventies when the BBC broadcast a production of Yeoman of the Guard one Christmas with Geraint Evans as Jack Point. I had never heard any music like this (Yeoman has some of Sullivan’s best choral work and there is a fantastic unaccompanied quartet in the second act) and I wanted to hear more like it. Fortunately the local library had a record section and I spent months going through their G&S selection before branching out via the Magic Flute, Figaro and Boheme and then onto Beethoven and Wagner.


There is a follow up to this. We have a 14-year old daughter and last year we took her to all male productions of Pirates and of Iolanthe at the splendid Wilton’s Music Hall in east London (camp as Christmas, but beautifully staged and sung) which she adored. She is now genuinely interesting in exploring opera, although we have to choose the work carefully - I don’t think she’s ready yet for Der Meistersinger, but we do have tickets for Porgy and Bess at the Coliseum later this year. Although she’s not as yet shown any interest in orchestral music, I hope that will come in time. Meanwhile I take it as a compliment that she has the Doyle Carte Opera company on her Ipod.


RE: A serendipitous moment. RE: A serendipitous moment.

No single moment but a series of cumulative eye-openers, about 40 years ago:


  1. Spending a weekend at a mate’s house in Bolton, his dad showing up after a hard day’s work, all dirt-caked and sweaty, complaining to anyone who’d listen, “They’ve taken off Beethoven’s Emperor tonight for some bleedin’ football match!” Not appreciated. We were both football-crazy, on the same team in fact. But later his dad put on a record of Oistrakh playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto (with a Scandanavian orchestra, can’t recall the exact details) and I was absolutely transfixed. Joined the Uni record library as soon as we got back to Liverpool and that started everything.
  2. Lying in bed on a Saturday morning, hanging over no doubt, listening to that programme that used to compare all the available recordings of a particular work. They were doing Brahms PC2, and I seem to recall Backhaus and Arrau got top marks. It was when they played an excerpt from the Solomon that the work suddenly clicked for me, and how! I got on a bus down to NEMS in Whitechapel and bought a copy which is still amongst my 10 all-time desert island discs.
  3. Soaking in the bath half-listening to a programme dissecting the last movement of Mozart’s K491. Up to then, I wouldn’t have given Mozart house room. From then on, he became one of the loves of my life. I bought all the old Turnabouts of the mid to late concertos played by Brendel. During the summer I was life-guarding at a pool and couldn’t leave for work without first playing one of those discs. Ever since, I’ve worked through the Mozart PCs every summer, and never tire of them.


Opera took much longer, a very gradual process. My only knock-on-the-head moment was hearing Pavarotti for the first time in Boheme.

RE: A serendipitous moment.

Great to hear all your stories, makes your anonymous lives more real. Interesting how most of us had that 'tingle factor' and then the obsession of not being able to consume enough of this newly discovered passion.

One of the early works I remember thinking 'what the hec is this?' is Concerto for Piano Trumpet and Strings by Shostakovitch. I only heard part of the last movement and was interrupted before I heard the announcer declare what it was. I wrote to Radio 3 and full marks to them I recieved a postcard reply a couple of weeks later informing me of its title etc.

Now of course we have the brilliant BBC website to view immediately the schedule.

Thanks to the internet we never stop finding new intriguing works to listen to. Gramophone posted on Facebook today about recordings of 2 symphonies new to me that I am now listening to on Spotify. Franz Scmidt symphony 4 Malmo SO and Berwald symphony 3 LSO. Both composers' names I recognise but have never listened to their music before.

Pause for thought.

RE: A serendipitous moment.

Atonal wrote:

Thanks to the internet we never stop finding new intriguing works to listen to. Gramophone posted on Facebook today about recordings of 2 symphonies new to me that I am now listening to on Spotify. Franz Schmidt symphony 4 Malmo SO and Berwald symphony 3 LSO. Both composers' names I recognise but have never listened to their music before.

Both works are really worth the time - the Berwald symphonies in particular are really splendid works; when ever I hear them they feel fresh and sparkling, like the Mendelssohn symphonies. The Schmidt symphony is one of those that falls too often under the radar and exists on the fringe of the repertoire - undoubtedly others will give you more information.

Wish we had spotify in my neck of the woods...




RE: A serendipitous moment.

Atonal, Berwald, as a Swedish composer didn't manage to make the name he deserved. Perhaps, because his music sounds so...German, most of the time, somerthing moving between Mendelssohn, Weber and beyond. There are quite a few good and very good recordings. The best is a rather old one, on the yellow label, with N. Jarvi. His Chamber music is also very interesting and more original: There are some nice recordings of the Piano Quintets on Explore Recordings, a comprehensive double CD (at the price of one) on Hyperion and the Complete String Quartets on BIS, plus a rather extended discography of other works as well.

Franz Schmidt is one of these cases of composers who fell on the shadow of their mentors and predecessors. He was a very significant Austrian composer, who, initially, was considered as the natural successor to Bruckner. However, his music proved to be a kind of hybrid, a conservative-progressive outcome, which was too complex for the former and too strict for the avant-gardist. In any case, the fact is that his music is truly difficult, with, often, very impressive orchestration.

For some scholars and experts, his very original masterpiece is his Oratorio "The Book of the Seven Seals" based on the Book of Apocalypse. There are, surprisingly, quite a few impressive recordings, the latest, in SACD sound (on Chandos), the oldest with Mitropoulos, existing on different labels.

However, his most popular and, for many musicians and conductors in particular, most important work is the 4th Symphony, a heartbreaking masterpiece he composed for his untimely departed daughter (Requiem for my daughter). There are plenty of very good and impressive recordings: Jarvi on Chandos, Sinaisky on Naxos, Kreizberg on Pentatone (very good and moving indeed), Luisi on Querstand and a live recording with Bonn Philh. with a less known conductor (but in SACD sound on MDG), to mention the most notable I can remember.

So, you have some food for...listening,


RE: A serendipitous moment.

Seconded, re. both Berwald and Schmidt's 4th. EMI produced a comprehensive set of Berwald's orchestral music with the RPO conducted by Bjorlin back in 1977. I think it's still available but it was recorded in a heatwave and the playing sounds rather siesta-like.

The old Schmidt 4 with the VPO conducted by, of all people, Mehta, was a landmark recording in its day and still sounds excellent to my ears. If I'm not mistaken, Naxos started issuing other Schmidt orchestral works. I'd be very interested in hearing from people who've sampled them.


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