Features

Sir Thomas Beecham in his garden at Cap Ferrat (Photo: © EMI Archives)
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Sir Thomas Beecham: April 29, 1879 - March 8, 1961

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.

John Goss, composer of hymns: increasingly forgotten? (image: Tully Potter Colle
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Hymns Ancient and Modern rejected

Sing on, with hymns uproarious, / Ye humble and aloof, / Look up! And, oh, how glorious / He has restored the roof! (John Betjeman, Mount Zion , “Hymn", 1931)

Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey took Ligeti into the cinema
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Lights! Camera! … Atonality!

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.

"Con amore" from Kyung-Wha Chung
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The new batch of Originals from DG and Decca

Mozart Piano Concertos K488 & K459 Maurizio Pollini ; VPO / Karl Böhm DG 4779376 Buy from Amazon

Percy Grainger, around 1920 (Photo: ‘The Percy Grainger Estate’)
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Percy Grainger (1882-1961) - the composer, 50 years on

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.

Is John Tilbury's Cage disc a recording, or an objectified view of a recording?
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'Music they heard within themselves'

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.

Eric Whitacre recording his recent Decca disc in London (photo: Alex MacNaughton
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The world's greatest choirs

Gramophone's January issue asked an international jury to name the world's leading choirs, and then invited American composer Eric Whitacre to reflect on why the list is dominated by British ensembles .

Bruno Maderna (Photo: Whitestone Photo, Heinz Weissenstein, New York)
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Bruno Maderna on record

The January issue of Gramophone magazine contains a profile by Philip Clark about the composer, who would have been 90 this year. Here he recommends some recordings of Maderna's music – and of Maderna's recordings of the music of others.

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