Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I want my work to scare me

Since leaving Hollywood, I have had the healthy and sobering experience of constantly working with music that is invariably better than any performance of it can be. It keeps final goals always out of reach and it means that boredom is a very rare occurence. I have always found it necessary for my work to scare me. It doesn't do any good to be totally secure in the knowledge that tomorrow's effors will not be too difficult, and that they will, with rare exception, be accepted with praise. Nowadays, worry and self-doubt are room-mates of mine. I'm frightened by the glory of the music I have to work with, and plagued by personal inadequacies. In my profession, triumphs and failures are allowed to be more private, and mass opinions neither make nor break a lifetime career.
Thought for the day from André Previn writing in his 1992 memoir of the movie industry No Minor Chords. What a pity that in 2010 extravagant praise, in the form of self-serving 'sticky buns', has become the currency of classical music and that mass opinions now make and break careers.

My header image is the LP release of a Previn recording that can be categorised as a 'classic' by dint of still being the best recorded version and remaining in the EMI catalogue more than a quarter of a century after its first release. André Previn's complete Prokofiev 'Romeo and Juliet' ballet dates from 1973. Producer Christopher Bishop, the engineer Christopher Parker and all involved share the credit for this classic of the gramophone, as does the incomparable acoustic of the Kingsway Hall.

There is rather a delightful irony to this post. As recounted here before, after switching from the movies to the classics Previn was keen to distance himself from Hollywood. Yet the cover art for the LP release of this classic recording of his was actually created in Hollywood. It is the work of the Native American artist Dick Ellescas who worked extensively in the movie industry and who, strangely, had a predilection for the jugendstil style seen in the Prokofiev cover.

During the 1970s EMI's classical empire was managed by the International Classical Division in London while the cover art was produced by the graphic studios of Angel Records on Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles. For a while I had the task of trying to manage the infernal triangle of the West Coast of America, the West End of London and self-opinionated musicians. My work certainly scared me, but, sadly, my failures were not so private.

Now on Facebook and Twitter @overgrownpath. André Previn's No Minor Chords was bought at retail, his Romeo and Juliet LP set was an EMI factory sample. 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 broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Pliable said...

Rewarding to see On An Overgrown Path being invoked in the battle against terminological malpractice -

http://rogerevansonline.com/2010/08/23/attacca/

Any credit for success in this areas must be shared with my terminologically-vigilant readers.