On March 17, 1951, the Catalan soprano Victoria de los Angeles made her Met debut in Gounod’s Faust. Sixty years on we revisit a “Reputations” column that John Steane wrote in December 1998, shortly after Victoria de los Angeles had celebrated her 75th birthday.
'Spain – the homeland of passionate musicians and fiery music…' claims a sleeve from works by de Falla, Granados and Albéniz (Leontyne Price, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fritz Reiner). This opinion from the mid-20th century was probably influenced by, say, Picasso, Dalí and Gaudí and endures in the work of current artists such as the film-director Pedro Almodóvar.
In the May 1961 issue of Gramophone, David Bicknell – who would retire as Manager of EMI’s International Artists Department in 1971 after 44 years with the company – paid tribute to Sir Thomas Beecham who had died on March 8, 1961. To illustrate his unique style and personality, we include a clip of Sir Thomas rehearsing and talking about the art of the conductor... With the death of Sir Thomas Beecham, England has lost her greatest executive musician, possibly the greatest that she has ever produced.
The clandestine darkness of the cinema auditorium changes perspectives on the world. As we cosy into our cinema seat, we’re prepared to take it on trust that a Kansas farm girl can travel to a place of make-believe to meet a wizard, that Harold Lloyd can dangle out of a New York skyscraper without falling off, that six strikingly different looking men can all somehow be James Bond and, finding yourself unfortunately lumbered with a dead body, Harvey Keitel is the man to sort it: just phone him and he will ensure you get away with murder.
Everyone knows Country Gardens (based on an English Morris dance) and probably Molly on the Shore , Shepherd’s Hey , Mock Morris and Handel in the Strand . Their popularity has tended to overshadow the rest of Grainger’s prolific and varied output and though he would never be put on a pedestal to join the pantheon of immortals, he is unorthodox, original and deserves better than to be dismissed by the more snooty arbiters of musical taste. There is a tendency to overlook real craftsmanship when it is put to (sometimes) frivolous use.
Considering they had recently been duped into thinking that a Martian landing was underway by an Orson Welles radio play, you wonder quite what Americans made of Leopold Stokowski’s alternative future for sound recording, as mapped out in his 1943 book Music for All of Us . “The first step is to make music [sound] exactly like the original,” he wrote. Nothing controversial there.