excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 59-60 (232 words)

excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 59-60 (232 words)

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In Pursuit of Music

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On the whole I had come to rely on Sir Henry Wood’s straightforward no-nonsense view of the classics, and the little I had read and seen of the star-system, with its exaggerated claims and inflated publicity, in which the composers’ names were of secondary account, left me indifferent; but I had received a decided shock when listening-in to the BBC’s much-publicised music festival in 1935.  Brahms’s Fourth and Beethoven’s Seventh sounded astonishingly different, reborn as newly-cleaned old masters; and I grasped and understood far more of Debussy’s La Mer than I had ever done on a first hearing with any comparably modernish work.  The familiar orchestra played with an inspired eloquence, clarity, and unity of spirit, and the flow of the music seemed as inevitable as the movements of the stars in their courses.  Two listening ‘accidents’ during the following year removed any possibility of having been unwittingly prejudiced, when my knob-twiddling for foreign stations had been twice arrested by a comparable flow and eloquence: one was a broadcast of the Pastoral from somewhere in France, and the other was the third act of Meistersinger from, as it turned out, Salzburg.  Since the guiding hand [Toscanini’s] had been in all cases the same, the power of mind over matter, and over ether, was made visibly clear to me.

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excerpt from 'In Pursuit of Music' pp. 59-60 (232 words)


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