Saturday, February 24, 2007

Alban Berg - you can't call that music


Today's big art story is that Prince Charles is joining great 20th century artists Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Francis Bacon as the designer of a label for a Château Mouton Rothschild wine vintage. You can view their labels by opening those preceeding artist links, the Royal artwork is above, and Charles' label for the 2004 vintage is here. This story would really have made the late John Drummond laugh, as the following anecdote explains:

'I have always found the Prince's lack of interest in anything to do with the arts in our time depressing, since all his opinions get so widely reported. It seems to me that he has had unrivalled opportunities to get to understand the twentieth century, but he has rejected it without hesitation. Both Denys Lasdun and Colin St John Wilson of the British Library, found work hard to get in the UK in the aftermath of the Prince's criticisms.

I cannot believe it is a proper use of royal patronage to increase unemployment among architects. And it is the same with music. Having listened together at a Bath Festival concert to a superb performance of Alban Berg's String Quartet, written in 1910, the Prince turned to me and said, 'Well you can't call that music, but I suppose you would John.' 'And so should you, sir,' I repled defiantly. We had quite an argument, and later that evening he told our host that he liked me but unfortunately I was wrong about everything.'


* View all the Chateau Mouton Rothschild labels here.

For more on the Royal taste in music read That's Harrison Birtwistle, - quick, let's hide.
Extract from John Drummond's autobiography Tainted by Experience, published by Faber, ISBN 0571200540. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included for "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

bobregular said...

right said, sir Drummond! Berg's quartet is superb and timeless music, period.

Incidentally, I recall the Bernstein Royal Edition, where Lenny's NYPh years were reissued in 100 single cds/boxes, each one with an "acquarello" by Prince Charles on the front art.
I bought circa a dozen of them.
And yes, the mismatch between musical lecture and painting was remarkable. Still, in my mind it was a sign of His Highness' attention to classical music.