Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The flawed genius of Valhalla


Pliable's first law of music says that if a great musician becomes involved in repulsive politics, that involvement will eventually come back to haunt him. Richard Wagner, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf are all proof of the law. So too is Reginald Goodall, whose classic English language recording of the Ring from the 1970s is seen above. As I recounted in my 2007 article my 2007 article on Goodall -
Even though Britain was at war with Germany, Goodall continued to support the fascist cause. He campaigned for the British Union of Fascist, called the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck ‘disgusting’, and was actually arrested briefly for expressing pro-German views in public. Even after the war Goodall was unrepentant. He was recruited by Walter Legge to take part in a tour of to Germany in 1946. Some of the performers visited the site of the Belsen concentration camp, only to be told by Goodall, who did not make the visit, that Belsen was British fiction manufactured in a leading movie studio.
I recently noticed considerable numbers of readers coming to my reappraisal of Goodall from a link to it on The Occidental Quarterly website which says:
I am linking the following article on Sir Reginald Goodall (1901 - 1990) because not only was he a great conductor, he was also racially and politically aware and paired these convictions with an unusual degree of courage.
The publishers of The Occidental Quarterly are an Atlanta based organisation called The Charles Martel Society. This takes its name from Charles Martel, the Frankish political and military leader who defeated the invading Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732 and halted the northward Islamic expansion in western Europe. In the 1970s and 1980s The Charles Martel Group was a French far-right anti-Arab terrorist organization. The US based Charles Martel Society is said to have no connections with the French group. Judge for yourself from Wikipedia's article:
The Occidental Quarterly is a journal "devoted to the ethnic, racial, and cultural heritage that forms the foundation of Western Civilization". It aims to defend "the cultural, ethnic, and racial interests of Western European peoples" and examine "contemporary political, social, and demographic trends that impact the posterity of Western Civilization".
Reginald Goodall being championed by The Charles Martel Society is sad confirmation of Pliable's first law of music, and the great musicians' involvement in repulsive politics once again comes back to haunt him. Which is a real tragedy, because as I write the Goodall Ring plays and it is quite simply stunning, a veritable classic of the gramophone that should be in every collection.

My original article on Goodall drew on John Lucas' admirably balanced and long out-of-print biography of the conductor, Reggie. Now comes the good news that Lucas' invaluable life of Goodall is being republished by Boydell and Brewer in October in paperback with the new title Genius of Valhalla; it should be in every collection alongside Chandos' reissue of the EMI recorded ENO Ring. And more of music mixing with repulsive politics in Hitler's court composer was a Harvard alumni.

Both John Lucas' Reggie and the Chandos ENO Ring were bought by me through retailers. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

4 comments:

Garth Trinkl said...

There was an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times on how the recent and unexpected uptick in women's fertility levels in "advanced" nations is allowing countries such as Sweden (and Russia, Japan, and Korea?) to contemplate seeking a steady state population through internal growth alone, rather than through the 'immigration-friendly' policies of Canada, the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and a few other countries.

I couldn't find the exact link when I looked for it now.

This came to mind clicking on your link "Music and Integration" and reading your description of the references to different cultures in Malcolm Arnold's symphonies.

(Today I stopped in at the local National Gallery at lunch-time to escape the tedium and the heat, and to look at the tapestries for a half hour; and a senior guard who I had seen for years but never spoken with came up to me and told me that President Obama was really born in Canada and should be shipped back to Illinois. I knew then that the spiritual and economic recession wasn't yet over by a long-shot.)

Pliable said...

Garth, I suspect that guard from the National Gallery in Washington D.C. may have been one of the callers to the recent BBC Radio 5 Live discussion about the future of the Proms that I had the misfortune to take part in.

More on the flawed genius of Valhalla tomorrow.

Garth Trinkl said...

Pliable, the conversation started ‘innocently’ enough with the 74-year old Irish Catholic former military guard ‘divulging’ to me that the National Gallery had had to step up security for Abbot Suger’s Chalice (link to picture, below), in the small Treasury collection next to the tapestries, ever since the publication of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, since the Hellenistic 1st c. BCE carved and beveled thin stone 'shell' at the center of the chalice had once held Christ’s blood. Except that it was really hot outside, I don’t know why he was telling me that the NGA had installed three secret cameras and extensive surveillance sensors in the room in the past few years. He also told me, interestingly, that the Chalice had been loaned a few years back to the Moscow Kremlin Museum, which he said holds the five other remaining secret chalice cups which held the blood of Christ and which were used for cultic rituals in the medieval period.

(I mention this in case you and your wife ever stumble on the six remaining Hellenistic carved and beveled 'shells' on your annual French journeys …)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Suger_Chalice.jpg

Also:

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/fertility-rise-for-richest-boon-or-trouble/?scp=1&sq=fertility&st=cse

Pliable said...

Garth, we do even need to go to France to find a 'carved and beveled 'shell''.

We will be seeing this one on Thursday of this week when we meet the Tashi Lhunpo Monks -

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2005/03/easter-at-aldeburgh.html

The shell in that post is still subject to occasional cultic defacing by Aldeburgh locals who don't appreciate contemporary art.