excerpt from 'Southbank Centre Archive' (355 words)

excerpt from 'Southbank Centre Archive' (355 words)

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Southbank Centre Archive

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I have noticed the brief article in BBC Music Magazine about the Royal Festival Hall's refurbishment and inviting readers' sepcial [sic] memories and I do hope that I am not too late to share mine. In 1956 I was an 18 year old National Serviceman and was posted to North Weald near Epping for the 18 months left of my service - just up the Central Line from London - what an opportunity for a someone from the culltural desert of Cumberland as it then was. Until then I only had the radio to listen to and enjoy any decent music and hear I was - right on the doorstep of the musical capital of the world. I quickly came to know the RFH and got my name on its mailing list so that I did not miss out on any special concerts and there were many which introduced to so much great music and great artists and created memories that still remain with me over fifty years later. The great highlights I particularly remember are Lisa Della Casa singing Strauss' Four Last Songs and which has remained my favourite even today.  Lots of Beecham and Boult - especially Beecham and his beloved Delius and also his "lollipops", the Cleveland Orchestra with George Szell playing Schubert's Great C Major Symphony, a week of Stravinsky with the man himself, Elizabeth Schwarzkopff in the Damnation of Faust but the greatest highlight was almost at the end of my time with the RAF when there was a Beethoven week with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Otto Klemprer. I went to the RFH twice that week - what bliss. First to hear Claudio Arrau playing the Emperor Concerto and finally the Choral Symphony with soloists Aase NordmoLovberg, Christa Ludwig, Waldemar Kmennt and Hans Hotter. Only about seven years ago I was reading a review of a recording of the Choral Symphony and the details sounded familiar and I then realised that it was a recording of the actual concert - 15th November 1957 - just one week before I returned to civilian life - what a finale to a wonderful time in London.

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