Saturday, April 30, 2005

What a Facade!

And so, back to the joy of live music making. One thing that I have learnt over the years is that works written for chamber ensembles don't translate well to orchestral forces. (And equally I don't think that a symphony orchestra can play jazz, despite Gershwin, Shostakovich et al). Small is beautiful, and the clarity and precision of single instrumental voices really let's you see straight through to the composer's original intentions. I was reminded of this while listening to an excellent performance of the orchestral suite from Copland's Appaachian Spring by Thierry Fisher and the Ulster Orchestra on Radio 3 on Friday night. But it was really brought home on Sunday by an outstanding performance of Walton's Facade using poems by Edith Sitwell (seen below) based on a performance conducted by Walton himself (with Constant Lambert as narrator and a stage curtain by John Piper) in the Aeolian Hall in London in 1942.

The Invitation Concerts run by Norwich and Norfolk Chamber Music at The Chapel in Park Lane, Norwich are one of the delights of musical life in East Anglia. The Swedenborgian Chapel was built in 1890 by followers of the Swedish physioligist Emmanuel Swedenborg, and became a Church of the Latter Day Saints in the 1990's before being purchased by Roger Rowe, the secretary of Norwich and Norfolk Chamber Music, and being renovated into a glorious, and acoustically excellent, private chamber music venue. It holds an audience of just 50 in an intimate space - ideal for making chamber music.

Facade was performed by seven players under the precise but flamboyant direction of Margery Baker. The ensemble was as follows:
Flute doubling Piccolo - Anne Bryant
Clarinet doubling bass clarinet - John Wilkinson (who put the whole performance together)
Alto saxophone - Martin Thomas
Trumpet - Stephen Gilbey
Cello - Crispin Warren
Cello - Ursula Prank
Percussion - Hugh Wilkinson

Special praise must go to the husband and wife narration team of John and Elizabeth Dane. They used excellent electronic amplification rather than the 'singerphone' (a specially designed mega[phone) used in the origianl performance in Elizabeth Sitwell's drawing room. The role of the narrators in Facade is an essential, and fiendishly difficult, one. The spoken voice is used as a solo instrument, and the rhythmic relation to the instrumental ensemble is complex and critical. This was live music making, with the risk taking that that involves, at its best. How clearly the jazz elements of the work came over without the straight-jacket of violins. And how wonderfully the seven players and two narrators made a tight precision sound like improvisation (and Improvisation 2). What an extraordinary work Walton, seen below, created in Facade. The ultimate triumph of style over content. An intellectual tour de force created around Edith Sitwell's nonsense poems. Just like many operas it proves conclusively you don't need a good story to make a great work.

Once again a huge hurrah for live music making.

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

Friday, April 29, 2005

How photo archive was salvaged from a trash can

My two posts, Downfall and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer and The mystery of the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection solved via the internet on the fascinating, and chilling, Siegfried Lauterwasser archive of photos has generated a lot of interest, not the least from a very supportive post on The Periscope which is the companion blog to the journalist network.

The whole Lauterwasser story hinges on the archive held at George Eastman House which is part of Ryerson University in Toronto. Although the archivist there, Jo Struble, has been helpful there have been problems with broken links on their web pages, and latterly performance problems on their server which mean some of the images are slow in loading.

Andy Eskind is the original researcher whose remarkable internet detective work while working at George Eastman House proved conclusively that the remarkable, and powerful, archive of Nazi photos was indeed the work of Siegrfried Lauterwasser; who later became conductor Herbert von Karajan's personal photographer, and whose images grace many CD and LP covers. Because of the various navigation glitches on the George Eastman House pages I asked Andy to give me a summary of the 'missing' parts of the Lauterwasser Collection story. Here it is.....

'Look this way and smile' - Karajan in his more normal position in front of the camera, again caught by Lauterwasser.

The key evidence is the one photograph which shows the front page of the newspaper Fränkischer Kürier which was successfully matched against microfilm of that newspaper in the archives at Marburg. It turned out to be September 1935 rather than the annual Parteitag Rally in Nurnberg of 1934 which I had erroneously written in the 1995 article in Image. It was the appearance of Riefenstahl in 2 frames which had led me astray. Otherwise, the Parteitag Rallies looked very similar from year to year in the mid-1930s. My mistake was failing to realize that Riefenstahl's presence wasn't necessarily on the occasion of making Triumph of the Will (1934); rather she was there working on the much less known follow-on project Hitler encouraged her to do the following year which resulted in Tag der Freiheit (1935) - which Riefenstahl herself avoided acknowledging (no mention in her lengthy autobiography) until a surviving print surfaced after the Cold War. This part of the story is best told by David Culbert's 1995 article in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. I simply wasn't aware of his work when I was writing in 1995. The full citation and illustrations of the key newspaper front page are easily viewed at this link.

A classic Lauterwasser DGG cover

The link to the attribution notes which explain in detail the Lauterwasser research which came later does indeed appear to be somehow broken. If I had a copy handy, I'd offer it to you and GEH for posting, but that goes back at least 2 computers for me, and my backup habits aren't up to quickly locating a copy. In brief, Lauterwasser would have been about 22 in 1935 when he did this work which technically isn't very proficient. Sadly, he never - even at the end of his life - revealed much about how he was engaged to cover the Borman outing to Unteruhldingen in May 1935, the Parteitag Rally that September, nor the subsequent small jobs over the next couple of years. What we do know is that he served in the German Army and survived the War - establishing a reputation as a successful photographer specializing in musicians. Returning home to a French Occupation zone, he apparently feared that possession of these pre-War negatives could get him in trouble. So he simply threw out roughly half of them. The match between the half he kept (which today are in the hands of his family), and the half he threw away (those now at GEH) doesn't superficially appear to have much rhyme or reason. Perhaps he did it in haste; perhaps he returned to such a clutter after VE day that they had been accidentally scrambled into 2 batches. Further study may or may not clarify this.

Another photo from the Lauterwasser Collection

What is very clear is that his neighbor, Mr. Ernst Zaumseil, unbeknownst to Lauterwasser, salvaged/rescued the negatives from the trash. Zaumseil subsequently gave the negatives to his American brother-in-law, Mr. Konrad Klein, who apparently hoped to market the images in the US. Klein self-published a book (which I've never seen) based on some of the images. His failed effort led to bankruptcy proceedings from which GEH purchased these assets. The strips of film arrived at GEH with absolutely no notes, markings, sleeves, order, or any clue beyond their self-evident image content. Only thru the subsequent outstanding intermediary efforts of Dr. Gunter Schoebel was this story reconstructed. Schoebel tracked down and interviewed Mr. Zaumseil living in a nursing home at age 92. It was also Schoebel who showed Lauterwasser the discarded images and relayed Lauterwasser's reactions at age 86 upon being reconnected with this long forgotten material. In some ways, the story of Schoebel's detective work, the research effort, etc is more interesting than the scattered photographic record. Afterall, the Parteitag Rallies were documented by 100s of photographers - both casual attendees, as well as professionals. There are 100s of thousands of negatives similar to these at US National Archives, in Germany, and elsewhere. Many are from more priviledged vantage points than those Lauterwasser enjoyed. Puzzles are always fun to work on just for the sake of solving puzzles. There are certainly more pieces which could be assembled, more work which could be done.
Hope this helps for now.

More from the Lauterwasser Collection

This is a fascinating, and exclusive, story. I am particularly grateful to Andy Eskind for providing additional material as I know he is very busy with a grant application in the US at the moment (I know the feeling Andy!). On An Overgrown Path will return to the more familiar ground of music postings tomorrow. But following this particular overgrown path, which started quite innocently with a photo caption in my post My first classical record, and has led from the UK to Canada, the US, and Germany totally validates the random wanderings that determine the content of this blog. Andy very wisely writes.."puzzles are always fun to work on just for the sake of solving puzzles", which I guess applies to Bach's Art of Fugue, and much else.

Update 3rd May - in another fascinating development the blog Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey has pointed out that the Lauterwasser family photo business is still trading in Unterlingen, Germany. You can visit their web site through this link. They have a page on Siegfried Lauterwasser with lots of Karajan images, (plus a page of mildly erotic stuff which is a new direcion on the overgrown path) but unsurprisingly there's nothing from the George Eastman House archive.
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

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Winds of change


In a week when the giant A380 European Airbus makes its maiden flight George Monbiot writing in the Guardian gives some chilling (or should that be global warming?) statistics on the impact of air transport on the environment. His column was triggered by the debate on the building of the Whinash Windfarm on the eastern boundary of the English Lake District National Park. (Hopefully a balanced set of links here for the planning appeal site, the 'no' lobby, and the 'yes' lobby represented by the developers).

In his article Monbiot says..."The Whinash project (or any equivalent large windfarm) by replacing energy generation from power stations burning fossil fuel, will reduce carbon dioxide emission by 178,00 tonnes a year. This is impressive, until you discover that a single jumbo jet, flying from London to Miami and back every day, releases the climate-change equivalent of 520,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. One annual daily connection between Britain and Florida costs three giant wind farms."

The full text of George Monbiot's thought provoking article is available through this link. For more of his journalism visit his Home Page.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Coincidence or what?


One of those blog monitoring services called Waypath monitors references to George Bush. Yesterday they picked up and published the following story from my Size Does Matter post.......

when:19 hours, 56 minutes ago
this blog:
On An Overgrown Path
On An Overgrown Path : Size does matter
no doubt by the recent revelations of George Bush's iPod listening habits . (Why does music no longer...Here in the UK we are in the middle of an election campaign. It is marked by an incumbent party ( Labour ) with absolutely no credibility due to their toadying to the Bush administration, being opposed by two other parties ( Conservative and Liberal Democrat ) with even less credibility.

Later my blog visitor log reported the following access...

Referring Link No referring link
Host Name
IP Address
Country United States
Region Maryland
City Gaithersburg
ISP Parklawn Computer Center / Dimes Hq

Parklawn Computer Center is a US Government Computer Centre for the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Their IP address keeps some quite interesting company... NASA Goodard Space Flight Center (NET-GSFC-OPS-NET) Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (NET-CNR-GENOVA) CNR - Istituto CNUCE (NET-CNR-ROMA) Data Research Associates, Inc. (NET-DRANET) Parklawn Computer Center / DIMES HQ (NET-DIMES) Army Information Systems Command (NET-MONMOUTH-2)

I am sure it is just conspiracy theory on my part (a bit like WMD in Iraq), but Parklawn Computer Center hasn't visited On An Overgrown Path before to my knowledge. It must all be quite innocent, perhaps they were looking for hallucinogenic references in my posts BrainFood - 1 and Brain Food - 2, or maybe some recipes from the superb Griffin at Felin Fach that I wtote about in my post Lux Aeterna (and not Ligeti)? There is most probably a Tallis Scholars fan somewhere in Gaithersburg, Maryland. If so welcome to On An Overgrown Path, and I am sure you will enjoy my choral music postings at Master Tallis' Testament and The Chorus Sings Tallis and Tippett, not to mention the clandestine Nazi past of German photographer Siegfried Lauterwasser.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A musician with teeth:

It is great to see a Master of the Queen's Music with teeth. I have already posted about Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' highly commendable views on the negative impacts of 'TV culture' in my post More MaxOpus (See also the post about his excellent website MaxOpus) . Sir Peter expanded his views on the state of 'serious music' in the Royal Philharmonic Society's Annual Lecture given in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on Sunday night.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies who is advocating a commitment to new music

His theme was that to generate a thriving classical music culture three ingredients are needed; education, resources and new music. And his subtext was that all three ingredients are being neglected in 21st century Britain. This is really powerful, and essential, stuff. I get the clear feeling that in Sir Peter we seeing the emergence of more than a great composer. What we are seeing is the emergence of that rare, and so valuable, phenomena - a true renaissance man. The full text of his excellent lecture is available by opening this link. The role of Master of the Queen's Music has traditionally very much been an honorary one, and some of the more recent incumbents have left little mark. Just to remind us who they were here is the complete list (courtesy of Wikipaedia) which certainly contains some names unknown to me.......

Nicholas Lanier (1625-49 and 1660-66)
Louis Grabu (1666-74)
Nicholas Staggins (1674-1700)
John Eccles (1700-35)
Maurice Greene (1735-55)
William Boyce (1755-79)
John Stanley (1779-86)
William Parsons (1786-1817)
William Shield (1817-29)
Christian Kramer (1829-34)
Franz Cramer (1834-48)
George Frederick Anderson (1848-70)
William George Cusins (1870-93)
Walter Parratt (1893-1924)
Edward Elgar (1924-34)
Walford Davies (1934-41)
Arnold Bax (1942-52)
Arthur Bliss (1953-75)
Malcolm Williamson (1975-2003)
Peter Maxwell Davies (2004-2014 - meaning a ten year appopintment)

The most famous Master of the Queen's Music - Sir Edward Elgar

In the lecture Max explains that his appointment was primarily to raise the profile of 'serious music,' and the traditional role of occassional royal music maker was strictly optional. It is good to see Max so energetically tackling the challenge of profile raising. (He marched at the anti-Iraq war demonstration in London last year, and he also composes some pretty damn good music as well).

On a lighter note it is good to see that the dislike of TV shared by Sir Peter and Pliable is spreading. There has been a fair amount of press coverage in the UK of TV-Turnoff Week and the TV-B-Gone device which switches off TVs in public places such as bars and restaurants. More power to you all, and let's finish with some words by others on television....

"Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to mthe same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome." T.S. Elliot

TV is a drug - a sedative that stops people causing trouble in the hours between work and sleep. - The Ecologist, May 2003

The methadone metronome pumping out
150 channels 24 hours a day
you can flip through all of them
and still there's nothing worth watching
T.V. is the reason why less than 10 per cent of our
Nation reads books daily
Why most people think Central America
means Kansas
Socialism means unamerican
and Apartheid is a new headache remedy-
Excerpt from lyrics to Television, the Drug of the Nation by the band Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy (which at least makes a change from linking to the Tallis Scholars)

All the above quotes courtesy of Malaysian Runner blog.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Brilliant Norwich Festival

Norwich skyline

A fun game is fantasy music festivals. The rules are simple, plan your own festival with your dream performers.

Mine would be something like this....

Open it with the Hilliard Ensemble and saxophonist Jan Garbarek (see improvisation) in a great English cathedral, followed by late night Bach for solo violin in a classic 15th century merchant church in the heart of a medieval city.

Jacques Loussier trio

Them more Bach with classic jazz pianist Jaques Loussier in the same church. Bliss would be to follow it with the Tallis Scholars singing Tallis and (oh joy) Sheppard back in the cathedral. Keep the 20th century in view with Steven Osborne playing the complete Tippett Piano Sonatas. Add Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr making music in an intimate medieval music room, and also Carole Cesare playing Scarlatti and (more joy) Soler on the harpsichord.

Sprinkle some 'envelope stretching' in the form of a multi-media tribute to Hildegard of Bingen including a light show (shades of my 60's student union pop extravaganzas with the likes of the Moody Blues - that link is to prove this site isn't totally polyphony fixated), and round it off by completing the journey through the Bach solo violin Partitas and Sonatas in the Merchant Church.

Of course that kind of fantasy programme is an unachievable dream. Only it isn't, every one of those events (and many more) is in the programme for the 2005 Norfolk and Norwich Festival which runs from 4th to 15th May. It's all happening just twenty minutes from our home, and I have the tickets (and credit card bill) in front of me to prove it.

If your musical tastes are like mine (and if you read On An Overgrown Path they must be) click over to the Norwich Festival web site and book now (if you're not in the US!), it should be unmissable. I'll be posting brief reports on most of these events On An Overgrown Path over the next few weeks, but first it is the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 performed by the Cambridge University Chamber Choir in the Chapel of St John's College next Saturday - oh the joy of being music lovers and living within driving distance of Cambridge!

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Size does matter

Here in the UK we are in the middle of an election campaign. It is marked by an incumbent party (Labour) with absolutely no credibility due to their toadying to the Bush administration, being opposed by two other parties (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) with even less credibility.

The press is taking all sorts of angles to try to make a lacklustre campaign interesting. The Guardian arts section on Friday ran a four page spread detailing the CD collections of twelve prominent politicians (see this link for the full text), inspired no doubt by the recent revelations of George Bush's iPod listening habits. (Why does music no longer have credibility unless it is in the iPod format?). Among the politicians in the Guardian feature was Tessa Jowell who is the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the present Labour government. This means she is in charge of funding and policy for the arts and music among other things.

The article says "thankfully, she confesses to not having got through the whole of Wagner's Ring Cycle" although she does admit that the end of Gottedamerung "is one of my favourite pieces of music." Presumably she just skipped all those boring bits in between? All that stuff with the Norns and that rope does drag a bit, doesn't it? She also "talks with eloquence on Benjamin Britten's Third Quartet - and of listening to it in Britten's house." At least we are spared the revelation that this was on her iPod, and it does give me an excuse to link to my posts A direct line to Britten and Easter at Aldburgh.

Tessa Jowell ponders the whereabouts of her Chichester Psalms CD

Last year, Jowell's car was broken into, and according to the article "the bulk of her CD collection was stolen from it, 'I was very sad to lose The Chichester Psalms, and John Taverner's Song for Athene,' she says with a touch of melancholy." Now this has left me wondering how big was Tessa Jowell's car, or alternatively how small was the CD collection of our Secretary of State for Culture? One thing is for sure, to transport my CD collection would require a juggernaut, not a car. And my thoughts that size does matter at least allows me to link to my post on jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani.

All these revelations about the musical tastes (or lack thereof ) of our politicians remonds me of Herman Hesse's words, "If you want to know the condition of a nation, then listen to its music." I would recommend that they all listen to Hans Sach's words in the last scene of The Mastersingers on the importance of culture in times of stress, but there again they would probably think The Mastersingers is a reality TV show. (See also my post More MaxOpus on more thoughts on the future of 'serious' music).

Just to make sure I exclude myself from any political ambitions here are the very politically incorrect CD's that have been on my wonderful Arcam and B & W system in the last few days (sorry no iPod).

My post Lux Aeterna (and not Ligeti) about Morten Lauridsen's choral work Lux Aeterna, and my comment that it reminded me of Elgar (and Rutter), prompted me to listen again to Elgar's The Music Makers in the version with Richard Hickox conducting the LSO orchestra and choir (he is not the greatest Elgar conductor, but the Watford Town Hall sound is gorgeous). I have previously thought the Music Makers a somewhat inferior and derivative work, but this time around I realised that the work is a real masterpeice. Interesting how middle age matures ones taste - Bach Cantatas, medieval polyphony and good brandy are other things that somehow seem a lot more important these days.

Mention of polyphony leads me to Une Messe pour La Saint Michel on the enterprising French Alpha label. This is a recreation of a Gallican Mass of the seventeenth century sung in plainchant and includes elements of improvisation. Not a disc you would play everyday (which means it probably wouldn't be in my car to be stolen), but commendable for 'pushing the envelope' with improvisation, and worth hearing for the use of a serpent instrument to reinforce the vocal lines. The serpent is a coiled wind instrument invented in France in the sixteenth century, and provides an interesting test for loudspeakers.

The serpent - size does matter, and so do your loudspeakers

The transition from plainchant to polyphony fascinates me. I grew to love chant listening to it during the Offices in the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte Madeleine in the Vaucluse, and am drawn to polyphonic works that are proud to show their chant origins. The Signum disc of Tallis' Music For the Divine Offices is pure heaven, and includes Salvator Mundi which featured in my Master Tallis' Testament post. I have also been listening to the new release Morales en Toledo on the innovative Glossa label with Michael Noone directing the Ensemble Plus Ultra. These are first recordings of works by Morales discovered in damaged manuscripts. Forget the history, this is a wonderful disc of music from the peak of Spain's golden age - gorgeous.

I have been reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History which strangely has passed me by to date, I was prompted to order it from the library by a mention on the John Fowles site on my sidebar. The jury is out on the book for me, seems as though the writing could have been a lot tighter. (Since writing this post I've finished the book, or rather speed read the last 150 pages. I waited for the something to happen in the first 350, and then correctly, concluded very little was going to happen. What a lot of words to say very little, and what pretentious attempts to make the text 'significant'. The problem with masterpieces like The Magus is they spawn pale imitations like The Secret History). But it did prompt me to listen to Barenboim's recording of Parsifal last night with Siegfied Jerusalem and Jose van Dam. All the right components are there including the Berlin Philharmonic and there are wonderful moments. But for me the magic is missing in this recording, and magic is central to Parsifal. I will keep returning to my vinyl set with Karajan conducting, or my memories of Anthony Negus conducting the Welsh National Opera production in 2004.

And if all this seems a bit serious I have discovered Leonard Leo. Who may you ask? Leo was an 18th century Italian composer rated in his day up there with Palestrina, Handel and others. If you don't know his joyful and exuberant cello concertos order up the mid-price BIS recording with Makoto Akatsu. On the basis of this disc I've ordered up his Misere wich I understand is also worth exploring. Such are the discoveries on this overgrown path.
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

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The mystery of the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection solved via the internet

In my post Downfall and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer I wrote about the mysterious Siegfried Lauterwasser archive of photographs of Nazi Germany, and told how Ryerson University in Canada had not responded to queries about the identity of the photographer.

All photographs on this post are from the remarkable Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection

I have have now had a most helpful communication from a lady in Fairhaven, Massachusetts which does confirm that the photographer of these chilling photos was actually Siegfried Lauterwasser, who was later personal photographer to Herbert von Karajan.

Here is the message which really illustrates the power of blogging, and the interconnectedness of the World Wide Web.

"I must confess to having visited “The Overgrown Path” link via the BBC People's War website —finding that we have some shared musical interests as well. I took advantage of my presence here in the States to call the Eastman House photo archivist, Joseph Struble, to get help with the Lauterwasser question you posed the other day. He is sorry he has not responded to your inquiry sooner as it typically takes him about 3 weeks to turnaround email inquiries (having worked at a local museum with a lone photo-archivist, I know they tend to be stretched very tightly but I have suggested to him that in the case of particularly long-distance inquiries, at least sending a brief note of acknowledgement, if not a full answer, is a good policy to adopt so the person writing at least knows their question made it through the ether! I learned this when I had several European clients during my career at SilverPlatter Information). This is what he told me:

The collection was a purchase from a Konrad L. Klein and it came with virtually no provenance as to photographer or time period, other than it was during the Nazi regime. Eastman House took it on due to the compelling subject matter. Andrew Eskind, the person who wrote the piece on the website indicating that the photographer was unknown, was in the process of researching the collection. At some time post-article, Andy ascertained that the photographer was indeed Lauterwasser and this is what Eastman has in its catalog—unfortunately, the website is not as current as the internal catalog. If you wish to know more detail, Joe said you can email Andy
and inquire of him. He no longer works at Eastman House but stays in touch with them and Joe felt he would be receptive to the question. Joe, by the way, helped with some of the research by recognizing Leni Riefenstahl in the photos.

I have mentioned the broken link on the website although I have suspicions that this is handled separately by another division in the museum and will probably take time to fix up. I also hinted gently that the website could use a bit of updating to reduce the confusion. As a longtime librarian/archivist/database specialist, this sort of thing drives me nuts.

Hope you find this helpful.

Regards from
Fairhaven, MA"

So these remarkable, and intimate, pictures of leading Nazis were the work of Siegfried Lauterwasser. None of his biographies seem to mention this extraordinary, and important, body of work, as Andy Eskind so neatly puts it below "until literally the last year of his life, Lauterwasser had never revealed his youthful indescretion of taking some small photo assignments for NASDP (Nazi Party)."

Should the political connections of an artist influence our judgement of his work?

6 hours later - and this story gets more and more interesting. After posting the piece above I received this email from Andy Eskind who was responsible for the attribution of the archive to Siegfried Lauterwasser...

There's lots to tell about the Lauterwasser adventure. I did literally crack the attribution of the images at GEH by using the internet, and I'm happy to share the whole story. The real clincher is that the Lauterwasser family shared digital copies of strips of film which fit together with those at GEH like 'hand in glove'. This despite the fact that until literally the last year of his life, Lauterwasser had never revealed his youthful indescretion of taking some small photo assignments for NASDP. There is much more that could be done with the project - GEH material on the web site is far from fully (or even correctly) sorted out, but, alas, I was among post 9/11 layoffs at GEH when tourism plumeted, as did government and Kodak grants leaving GEH in a financial pinch from which it still hasn't fully recovered. I could go on and on, but at the moment am working on a grant application due May 1. I barely had time to glance at your postings - but this is definitely an interesting story. I did send Riefenstahl those 2 frames before she died in hopes she would identify the cinematographer next to her. Unfortunately never heard from her. Chris Horak and other cinema experts have been contradictory in their identifications of him. I, of course, had incorrectly jumped to the conclusion that she was in Nurenburg shooting what came to be Triumph of the Will. It turns out to have actually been the following year and the project she barely ever acknowledged working on until prints were discovered in Eastern film archives - details when I have more time.
(and later)
Yes, I guess it's ok to post. My only misgiving is I don't want to offend the Lauterwasser family who were very cooperative with me. I had raised the funds to visit them in Germany when my tenure at GEH was abruptly cut short. They have as much material from that era as is at GEH - it's not entirely clear why it was so arbitrarily divided in half - my hunches in the past haven't always turned out to be correct. When you used his later Karajan images, did you deal directly with Lauterwasser? By the way, the film strip sequences on were assembled before the family shared additional material with me. The new material in several cases proved that I had put things together which didn't really go together. Mistakes I never had a chance to correct.

Regards, Andy

Two days later I received this email from Eastman House.
Dear Sir,
I do not have any information about the relationship of Siegfried Lauterwasser to the conductor Herbert von Karajan.
The article that Mr. Andrew Eskind wrote on the collection of 808 negatives (35 mm strips) for the museum's magazine "Image" (Volume 38, Nos. 1-2, Spring-Summer 1995) was published before his effort to find authorship of the material was accomplished. Mr. Eskind was very persistent with this and I think he would be happy to correspond with you concerning the process and the connection of these negatives to Sigfried Lauterwasser that was established. Perhaps you are already in contact with him, as I spoke to someone here in the US who was following up on your inquiry to us for you and I shared this with her. In any event, you have bumped up against one of the limitations of our offsite database access. We hope to provide acccess to all the updated information that has been added in the past several years since the Museum switched over to a new Data Management System (TMS) which has its own public interface (E-Museum). However, we cannot provide this at present. I'm glad you were able to make contact with us and I do wish I could have responded to you sooner, but believe it or not, there is quite a steady volume of e-mail inquiries which make their way to me and which I try to respond to in a timely manner along with some my other responsibilites here.
Best wishes,
Joe R. Struble
Assistant Archivist
Photo Collection

29th April - a further update with fascinating information on the discovery and attribution of the Lauterwasser archive – see
How photo archive was salvaged from a trash can
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

Monday, April 18, 2005

More MaxOpus

In my MaxOpus post I wrote about the innovative web site, complete with music downloads, created by our Master of the Queen's Music and maverick musician Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. (See also my review of his Sacred Music on CD).

Peter Maxwell Davies lives on a croft on the island of Sanday in the Orkneys, and owns a television only in deference to his partner.

In an interview in Saturday's Guardian Sir Peter gives some interesting, and eminently sensible, views on the current artstic climate (open this link for the full text). The future of 'serious' music he says is......

"A question about the survival of civilised values, which can only be done by a commitment to music, theatre and so forth.

I will talk about the effect of television being by and large very negative. These things exhibit a lack of concentration in terms of timespan.

Most people don't ever think about music that doesn't have a lyric, and many of them don't know it can last longer than a single pop track........

I once experimented with (television) for about a year but found it intrusive., especially the BBC news presentation. The signature tune was in E major, such a special key, reserved for works like Bruckner's Seventh Symphony and Beethoven's opus 109 sonata."

Hear, hear (or should that be don't hear, don't hear?)

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Downfall - and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer

Bruno Ganz in the cinema as Hitler.

Following on from The Chorus we went to see Downfall last week. Director Oliver Hirschbieger has made a stunning film, but the accolades must go to Bruno Ganz's extraordinarily powerful performance as Hitler. In my book his performance is up there alongside Dirk Bogarde's Aschenbach in Visconti's Death in Venice for immersing himself so totally, and so convincingly, in the role. Yes, I understand the reservations about the film 'humanising' the Nazi leaders, and the 'white-washing' of the role of Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, on whose memoir the film is partly based. But just as Shakespeare's plays provide a valid 'drama-documentary' view of English history, so equally Downfall gives us a dramatised (and arguably sanitised) view of the last days of Hitler. The film lasts for more than two and a half hours (and thankfully uses music very sparingly, there is no Wagner of Bruckner at all, despite the fact that the slow movement of the Seventh Symphony was played on Berlin Radio after the announcement of Hitler's death). I have never seen an audience (of all ages) so engrossed throughout a film, or more silent at the end. We need documentary facts, but we also need dramatisations to bring history to life.

Downfall reminded me of one of life's little mysteries. When I was writing my recent post My first classical record I started researching Siegfried Lauterwasser, the 'official' photographer to the conductor Herbert von Karajan - an example of his work is seen below. I worked at EMI in the 1970s when Karajan was one of our artists and I was fascinated by the 'court' that surrounded him and was intrigued by their background. It is documented that Karajan joined the Nazi Party on April 8th 1933 in Salzburg, two months after Hitler came to power. He was cleared by an Austrian Governement denazification tribunal in February 1946 which concluded that Karajan was not involved in any illegal activity between 1933 and 1938. A transcript of the tribunal is given in Richard Osborne's Karajan - A Life in Music (Chatto & Windus ISBN 1956197638, the following exchange is taken from that transcript:

Dr Zellweker, Deputy Chairman of Tribunal: 'Surely you must have had some thoughts about (politics), and then there you were in 1935 joining the Party.'

Karajan: I'm prepared to admit that it was an error, but we artists live in another world, a self-contained one. Otherwise it would be impossible to play music properly, and music is the highest and only thing for me.'

A Google search on Siegfried Lautterwasser returns a web site at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film. It appears this archive is part of Ryerson University in Toronto. It contains the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection of photos. These are all available online, and they are quite an eye opener. Open the links for coverage of Martin Borman's Visit to Unteruhldingen - May 4-6, 1935 (Boorman was Hitler's number two, and a racist who was outstanding among some finely developed examples of the species), the Nuremberg Rally - September 1935, and much more. The photos have a captivating, haunting and chilling quality. Forget their repugnant subjects, these are compelling images.

Hitler in real life, as captured in the Siegried Lauterwasser Collection

But here is the mystery. Who actually took these photos? They are on the web site as the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection, and the Lautterwasser in question must be the same one as Karajan's photographer as his dates are identical. There are 'Research and attribution' notes on the site, but these are as clear as mud about the origin of the photos, and talk vaguely of 'an unknown Nazi photographer'. So presumably Lautterwasser didn't take them. If not, why are they labelled as his collection? What is the link between him and the photos? The mystery deepens as a key link on the 'Research and attribution' notes is broken. I've sent several emails to both Ryerson University and George Eastman House about the collection, and have not yet received a reply. (For an update on this post, and for confirmation that the pictures are indeed the work of Lauterwasser see my post The mystery of the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection solved via the internet - Pliable 19/04/2005).

So what is the link (if any) between Siegried Lauterwasser and these extraordinary photos? Or is the whole thing an elaborate (and bad taste) hoax? Anyone who can shed any light on this fascinating mystery plesae post the explanation using the comments icon below.

Update -For confirmation that the pictures are indeed the work of Lauterwasser see my post The mystery of the Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection solved via the internet - Pliable 19/04/2005).

Further update - just as some other sites have picked up on this post the server hosting the photo archive in Canada at George Eastman House/Ryerson University has started intermittent performance/connectivity problems (nice to think its the traffic we've generated!). If you aren't getting the images on my post, or can't link across to the Siegfied Lauterwasser Collection site please keep trying, it is well worth it when you finally connect - Pliable 27/04/2005)

29th April - a further update with fascinating information on the discovery and attribution of the Lauterwasser archive – see How photo archive was salvaged from a trash can

Another image from the mysterious Siegfried Lauterwasser Collection
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Music and Alzheimer's

I have previously mentioned the violinist (and former leader of the Medici Quartet) Paul Robertson's work with music and Alzheimer's Disease. It was a pleasure to hear him on BBC Radio 3's In Tune programme last night talking about his latest project, Swansongs. This is a 'performance' in words and music of the process, pathology, struggles, and compensations of Alzheimer's (which is one of the prime causes of dementia). The project is a joint one between Paul Robertson and John Zeisel who is an international expert on the non-pharmacological treatment of people with Alzheimer's (which is thought to be related to 'protein tangles' in crystal structures in the brain).

Swansongs mixes music and storytelling to give insights into Alzheimer's. Among the musical examples used are Bach's Allemande from the Partita in D minor, the Cavatina from Beethoven's Opus 130 Quartet, Faure's String Quartet (which was apparantely composed in the early stages of dementia and exhibits 'shapelessness'), Smetana's 2nd Quartet which was created in an advanced period of mental degeneration due to the composer's syphyllis, and Grundge by Judas Priest (no comment).

Prof. Paul Robertson

Paul Robertson is an informed, articulate and passionate advocate of the use of music to help Alzheimer's sufferers and carers. He can communicate far more fluently than me the benefits of his wonderful work. I urge everyone to visit the Swansongs web site, and to read in particular the Treatment Tips. The advice given here is applicable far beyond Alzheimer's sufferers. Paul Robertson is an inspiring communicators on this vitally important subject. Another book from him on the subject (he did write Music & Silence some years ago, but it is long out of print) would be invaluable - if only he had the time.

If the subject of Alzheimer's and dementia seems unduly gloomy remember that in the UK three-quarters of a million people suffer from the disease, while four and a half million family members and carers are affected. In the US five million live with the disease, and thirty million are affected in some way. No wonder Paul Robertson describes it as a pandemic.

Music is now an established tool for managing dementia related conditions

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Evening of enlightened contemporary music

Saturday evening brought the first performance of Douglas Weiland's Second Piano trio played by the Altenberg Trio from Vienna in a Norfolk & Norwich Chamber Music concert at the John Innes Centre, Norwich.

It was an evening of enlightenment - from Norwich & Norfolk Chamber Music (check their web site for details of two exciting concerts with Tamas Vasary in September) who appointed Weiland composer in residence in 2002, and who have commissioned him to compose a piece of chamber music in each of the season's betwen 2004/5 and 2006/7. The first of these is the Piano Trio especially coposed for the Altenberg Trio of Vienna, to be followed by a Cello Suite, a Clarinet Quintet (with Andrew Marriner as soloist), and a String Quartet. Weiland's Piano Quartet, which was also written for the Norfolk & Norwich Music Club was premiered in Norwich in May 2000, and has since been played in Vienna and Australia.

Douglas Weiland is an enlightened musician. He was born in Malvern (home to Edward Elgar) in 1954, and after studying violin became a member of the acclaimed Australian Quartet. In 1990 he returned to England as a member of Sir Neville Marriner's Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields chamber orchestra. He now composes full time, and his commissions include a Divertimento for Strings for the Academy, and a Clarinet Concerto for Andrew Marriner. His current work in progress is a Triple Concerto.

Enlightenment also radiates from the Altenberg Trio who made their debut at the 1994 Salzburg Mozart week. As well as the classical repertoire this wide ranging trio have recorded Ives, Copland and Bernstein. It is wonderful to see this Trio playing, and thoroughly enjoying, a contemporary composition commissioned for them. It was also wonderful to hear pianist Claus-Christian Schuster joking in his encore intrduction about the wedding of Prince Charles (which finally took place on the day of the concert), and about home team Norwich City's surprise defeat of Manchester United which occured minutes before the concert began. With the Altenberg Trio (and as with the Kamus Quartet) chamber music is not dull or stuffy.

Altenberg Trio of Vienna - chamber music can be fun. (Sorry there is no photo of Douglas Weiland, but there doesn't seem to be one available).

Douglas Weiland's Second Piano Trio is sub-titled Pavey Ark after the well known landmark in the Langdale area of the Lake District, seen in my header photo. The trio is an accessible, work in three sections - Moderato - Allegro, Poco Allegro - Allegro, and finally a haunting Poco Adagio, molto espressivo as an epilogue. Weiland's idiom successfully combines modernity with intensely lyrial passages to create a work that seems set to expand the Piano Trio repertoire.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this premiere; to the Norwich & Norfolk Chamber Music club for their enlightened patronage, to the Altenberg Trio for their commitment, and to Douglas Weiland for creating such a wonderful work.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

More on musician run record labels......


I have written several posts about the trend (stampede?) to musician run record labels such as MaxOpus and SDG (and of course the San Francisco Symphony with their Mahler project), and also see Dog eats dog for an interesting take on the trend. (Incidentally there is nothing new in the classical music world. I've just been re-reading Peter Ostwald's flawed 'psycho-biography of Glen Gould. It tells of how towards the end of his career Gould considered setting up his own record label, largely because Columbia were becoming increasingly frustrated with his eccentric behaviour).

There is an interesting insight in today's Guardian (follow this link for the full article) into the business model for musician run labels such as LSO Live. In an article about the departure of the LSO's Managing Director Clive Gillinson the Guardian's Arts correspondent Charlotte Higgins - " Currently LSO players make £400 (720 US dollars) per year from the profit share from own label CD's."

It is a fact that business models are only sustainable when value is genuinely added long term. There is no doubt that Colin Davis' Berlioz and Bernard Haitink's Brahms give fantastic value to the end buyer with their £4.99 (9 US dollars) retail price. But aren't musician run record labels simply re-balancing value by taking it away from the rank and file players who are a vitally important part of these great performances and recordings?
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Friday, April 08, 2005

Lux Aeterna (and not Ligeti)

The Honddu Valley in Wales

The Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II from Westminster Cathedral was on BBC Radio 3 as we drove from Abbey Dore into Wales to Llanthony Priory. This extraordinary Augustinian Priory was founded in 1118 in the beautiful and remote valley of Honddu in the Black Mountains to celebrate poverty and isolation. This really was life on the edge of civilisation, and finally hardship and Welsh raids caused the Priory to be abandoned for the more hospitable Llanthony Secunda in Gloucester. Today the ruins of Llanthony Prima remain as an extraordinary tribute to the power of the monastic movement.

The Mass for the pivotal 20th century Pope disappeared into static as FM reception disappeared at Llanthony, so for the return journey we turned to Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna (also the title of a superb Brilliant Classic's box set of Flemish polyphonists) which fortuitously was in the car's CD changer. I had got to know this work through the RCM recording of 1998 by the Los Angeles Master Chorale conducted by Paul Salamunovich which I had imported from the US. Since that pioneering recording this remarkable work has gained a justified place in the choral repertoire, and has recently received the endorsement of a recording by Polyphony with East Anglia's 'home band' the Britten Symphonia conducted by Stephen Layton.

But here I have to make a confession. Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna troubles me. Not because it is not a fine work, but because whenver I hear it I also hear Elgar with a sprinkling of Rutter. What troubles me is not this apparent derivation, but more that I am unsure as to whether derivation in an art work is a sign of weakness. In my wrong-headed way I categorise composers into those 'derivatives' such as Rutter, Lauridsen, and many more who I visit on the overgrown path, and the true originals who are the ultimate destination - Bach, and the polyphonists and their precursors.

John Rutter now strikes me as an interesting and rewarding composer to visit while exploring the path, but most definitely not a destination. I will always be moved by parts of his Requiem. The recording by King's College Choir, Cambridge directed by Stephen Cleobury was almost permanently in the car CD player in France one summer. The final Lux Aeterna movement will always be linked for me to the view of Buis les Baronnies as you drive up the D5 in the Drome, rugged border country similar to the Black Mountains.

Near Buies les Baronnies in the Drome, France

But as I explored more overgrown paths the derivative nature of Rutter started to trouble me. My journies led me further to Herbert Howells, his Requiem, Motets, and other sacred music, plus of course his sublime Hymnus Paradisi. Geographically Howells' came from rural Gloucestersire not far from Llanthony, while stylistically his path leads back to the destination of Tudor polyphony. (His two keyboard works, Lambert' and Howell's Clavichord are well worth seeking out. These are tributes to musician friends - including Edmund Rubbra, see below - in the manner of Elgar's Enigma Variations, but in the style of Tudor Keyboard pieces. There was a version on CD played by John McCabe on Hyperion but it is now deleted. Thankfully Hyperion didn't attempt the impossible task of recording a clavichord, does anyone know of a recording of that most intimate of keyboard instruments that sounds natural?)

Further down another overgrown path I discovered the delights of the sacred music of Edmund Rubbra. I already knew his his symphonies, the Lyrita LP of Norman del Mar conducting No 6 and 8 was a vinyl favourite of mine, and is one of the Lyrita LP's that has fortunately been reisuued on viynl. (Harold Moore Records exclusively distribute these CD reissues, follow this link to see the full range of composers available - well worth exploring). Rubbra converted to Catholicism in 1948 at the age of 47. Many of his great choral works post-date his conversion, including two masses and the Nine Tenebrae Motets (for excellent recordings of these go no further that the Choir of St John's College Cambridge on Naxos). But for me Rubbra's unknown masterpeice is his Symphony No 9, the Symphonia Sacra. The path here has us all the way back to Bach as the structure of this choral symphony mirrors the Passions, the theme is the Resurrection with each of the four sections ending with a Latin hymn (set by Rubbra), while three sections also include a Lutheran Chorale. Rubbra was a brave man to compose on this theme and in this style in 1972 (This was year which brought the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics in which 11 Israeli athletes died, the start of the US bombing of Hanoi, not to mention Don McLean's American Pie, Alice Cooper's Schools Out, and the Moody Blues Nights in White Satin, and the introduction of the pioneering 'Pong' video game).

Surely Rubbra's Symphonia Sacra should now take its rightful place in the repertoire alongside other 20th century choral masterpieces such as Tippett's A Child of Our Time?

Edmund Rubbra

For our visit to the Black Mountains we stayed at The Old Post Office in Llanigon which serves the most superb vegetarian breakfasts, and is also just outside 'the book town' of Haye-on-Wye. We ate at the Felin Fach Griffin, both are highly recommended.

Regular readers will know my fascination with pilgrimages. There is a project to develop a Cistercian Way pilgrimage route linking all the Welsh Cistercian abbeys, medieval and modern.

To appreciate the real beauty of the Black Mountains, and to understand the challenges of travel for the Augustinian Cannons try pony trekking with Tregoyd Mountain Riding - but don't fall off your pony as one of our party did!

Books bought on this trip
Hay-on-Wye (see also my other post - Wot no computers) :
A Sport and a Pastime -
James Salter £2.50
Monasteries of Norfolk - Richard le Strange £6
Only Birds and Fools - J.Norman Ashton £4.95 (remainder)
The Swimming Pool Library - Alan Hollinghurst £1.50
Good Vibrations -
Evelyn Glennie £6

In Worcester:
Miss Smilia's Feeling for Snow -
Peter Hoeg £1.45

In Malvern:
Amber, Furs and Cockleshells -
Anne Mustoe £7.99 (new)

On the trip I read
Sam Taylor's much hyped first novel The Republic of Trees. Despite patches of fine writing I found it very disappointing. It was superficially clever, clearly derived from The Magus and Lord of the Flies without really adding anything new for me. I guess it's different strokes for different folks....

I also bought in Hay the CD The Hermit by folk guitarist
John Renbourn as an antidote to too many masses in minor keys.

John Renbourn

And to bring this post full circle the Westminster Cathedral Choir's recording of Victoria's Officium defunctorum of 1605 under David Hill was waiting on my doormat on my return, supplied by the ever efficient (and cheap) Caiman via Amazon's 'New and used' link.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Kafka on the Shore

Someone once told me books were like doors; you opened them and entered and all the old rules disappeared. In books anything could happen. And that just about sums up Haruki Murakami's (see my post on Norwegian Wood) latest novel. Kafka on the Shore is an improbable, multi-layered piece of writing that veers from reality to fantasy and back. On paper it shouldn't work, but off the page it does - in bucket loads. It follows the separate, but converging, journies of a fifteen year old Japanese high school student who runs away from home, and an ageing, illiterate man, Nakata, whose main talent is to be able to talk to cats. Don't be put off if it sounds line Alice in Wonderland; this novel will shake your brain up, and it won't quite settle down in the same form as it was before you read it.

The details of the plot are completely believable. Almost as throwaway sub-plots Murakami introduces Schubert's Piano Sonatas, Beethoven's Archduke Trio, Truffaut's films, contemporary pop lyrics, and more. Some credit for the seamless readability of this complex, but compelling, book must go to the masterly translation by Philip Gabriel.

But what sets Kafka on the Shore above recent great novels such as Ian McCewan's Saturday is the dark dimension. Contemporary life is there in exquisite detail, but so is a horrifying blackness towards which the two principal characters are remorselessly drawn. Takata merges as a kind of shaman, with combined with his illiteracy and innocence positions him as a Parsifal like holy innocent. In fact the parallels with Wagner, and the Ring cycle in particular, run deep in the shared themes of mythical and contemporary taboos, patricide and incest.

I read a lot of great books, but very few leave a really lasting impression. Kafka on the Shore makes it into the life changing category for me, and it is up there with books like Catcher in the Rye, Death in Venice, and The Magus (yes, I have a taste in rites of passage literature).

This work is a staggering achievement which works sublimely well on a number of levels. It is more than a novel, it is a step in a journey of exploration and understanding (a kind of overgrown path) that Murakami has been following since his first novel Hear the Wind Sing was published in 1979. Read it.

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Friday, April 01, 2005

My first classical record

What was the first classical record you bought? Mine was an LP of Karajan conducting Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony, the 'Pathetique', with the Berlin Philharmonic on Deutsche Grammophon 13892SLPM. I bought it in 1969 from a music shop in Reading where I was at University. The shop had listening booths with acoustic tiles, and it sold sheet music, musical instruments, and classical records.

The LP is playing as I write. I have just serviced my Thorens TD125 turntable with SME arm (a capacitor in the motor control circuit blew after 30 years) seen below. The LP sound through my Arcam Alpha 10 amplifier and B & W Nautilus 803 speakers is magnificent, when the planets are aligned beneficially vinyl can still deliver a musicality that surpasses CD. (Thankfully I have kept my LP collection, and the surfaces are immaculate apart from the inevitable pressing blemishes).

What overgrown path led me to buy that LP of the 'Pathetique'? Well, I can answer that question quite easily. Some years previously I had been taken by my parents, while on holiday, to hear Tchaikovsky 6th played by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth. The conductor was a dynamic young Singaporean maestro Choo Hoey. (Googling for Choo Hoey pulls up references to a conductor active in the Far East, could this be the same one? - I must have seeen him more than forty years ago).

Did that early hearing of Tchaikovsky 6 burn irreversible patterns into my neural networks a la Mozart Effect? Did the B minor key signature programme me towards an near obsession for Masses in minor keys in general, and Bach's masterpiece in particular? Was it that adiogio lamentoso last movement that inclined me towards the melancholic of the Four Temparaments? (Post coming up, time permitting, on a CD called the Four Temparaments - no not Carl Nielsen - it is an excellent new release from the innovative viol consort Phantasm, and it includes a setting for viols of the Byrd 4 Part Mass!)

Could it have been that brooding Siegfried Lauterwasser cover photograph of Karajan (this link gives an interesting perspective on Lauterwasser, who was HvK's 'court' photographer) that headed me towards a career that took me from the BBC, and then to EMI where I worked on some of Karajan's projects including his recording of Debussy's operatic masterpiece Pelleas et Melisande? That project summed up the Karajan conundrum completely, sublime music making and an odious personality. My favourite Karajan story is about when he was conducting at Bayreuth with Hans Knappertsbusch. There were just two lavatories at the end of a long corridor backstage. Karajan's personal secretary, it is said, put a notice on one, 'For the exclusive use of Herr Karajan'. An hour later a notice appeared on the other one written by Knappertsbusch, 'For all the other arseholes'.

I was also involved with others in the Karajan circle. When Walter Legge died in 1979 I created an exhiibition at short notice for the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall in London. Legge's wife Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (below) viewed the exhibition before a Philharmonia Orchestra memorial concert, and complained to me that I had described Legge in the display as an 'entrepreneur.' Now I have often been wrong in my choice of words, but in that instance I am convinced I was dead right.

But the path didn't just lead me to Karajan and his circle . My second LP was Bernard Haitink conducting the London Philharmonic in Holst's Planet Suite (A strange choice, the reading with its odd tempi has long since been deleted). Haitink resoundingly disproves the rule that you need an odious personality to be a great conductor. (And also Colin Davis - interesting he has no 'personal' web site, this is a quote from the article I've linked to.. I detest all that charisma stuff. It leads to unmusical things like the pursuit of power. The older I get, the more wary I am of power. It is a beastly ingredient in our society - he said that in 1990!).

I lunched once with Haitink in the staff refectory at Glyndebourne to seek approval for the cover design of his recording of the Brahms Double Concerto with Perlman and Rostropovich (approval was given without a hint of the vanity and petulance cultivated by Riccardo Muti and others). In those days conductors had cover approval in their contracts, nowadays they have to start their own record labels to make a recording. While driving down to Glyndebourne I had been listening to Previn's first (and by far the best) recording of Walton's First Symphony on RCA. I suggested that Haitink looked at the score, and he subsequently recorded it for EMI. It wasn't a great commercial success, it was a lesson in leaving A & R planning to the professionals. (But I do remember suggesting that Previn recorded the Korngold Violin Concerto and Symphony in F sharp in the 1980s, only to be told he wouldn't touch film music. It is amazing how principles adapt to economics). Haitink later did go on to record a fine cycle of the Vaughan Williams symphonies for EMI after I left. I am always puzzled as to why this fine conductor never plays or records Sibelius. With his achievements recording Bruckner I have always thought Haitink would be a natural Sibelian - give me one Sibelius symphony for every ten of Shostakovich!

The Vaughan William symphonies leads me on to another musical giant whose path briefly crossed mine, Sir Adrian Boult. But that will have to wait until another post.....

If you enjoyed this post you may enjoy Downfall - and the mystery of Karajan's personal photographer