On that sleeve for his 1985 recording of the Goldberg Variations , Scott Ross is seen standing in the grounds of Château d'Assas in Languedoc. It was here that many of his great recordings were made. Then, as today, the château dwelt in the twilight zone between grandeur and dereliction, and thirty years ago the recording sessions were regularly interrupted by the sound of rats scurrying across the floor. Scott Ross was born in Pittsburgh in 1951, and moved to France with his mother following the death of his father in 1964. He studied at the conservatoires in Nice and Paris, and first came to Château d'Assas in 1969 to give music lessons to the grandson of its owner Mme. Simone Demangel . When an early music academy was established at the château, the harpsichordist gave masterclasses and became a frequent visitor. At first he stayed in a room in one of the towers, but from 1983 he rented a small house across the road from the château. The photos below were taken by me on a
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After seven years my post ' Scott Ross and the paradox of genius ' is still one of the most widely read Overgrown Path articles. This popularity at first sight seems pardoxical, as Scott Ross lacks any click bait or celebrity appeal. But his flame is kept alive by thoughtful articles such as the one in today's FranceSoir by Moufid Azmaïesh which links to my 2004 post. What is remarkable and heartening is that Moufid Azmaïesh's article is given prominence in a respected international publication without the clickable hook of virtue signalling , an anniversary or a scandal to hang the story on. In his thoughtful appraisal Moufid Azmaïesh avoids the sensationalism that blights so much of today's classical music writing . Instead he ponders on how art, and Scott Ross' art in particular, takes us to a better place beyond today's ailing materialistic culture. Moufid Azmaïesh goes on to explain how at this time of global crisis art exposes us to "the s
Yet another example of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story has appeared on Slipped Disc . Norman Lebrecht suggests the New York Times should have asked Simon Rattle to contribute to its Malcolm Arnold tribute because Rattle "has performed [Arnold's] music since age 15". In fact Rattle's only claim to Malcolm Arnold fame was conducting a 1998 performance in Birmingham Arena of the composer's Little Suite No. 2 played by 3495 musicians - the largest orchestra ever assembled. This pseudo-event merited an entry in the Guiness Book of Records , which was the 1990s equivalent of trending on Twitter. During the current Arnold centenary year Sir Simon was too busy bleating about Brexit and moaning that his pleas for a new personal London concert hall had fallen on acoustically imperfect ears to conduct Sir Malcolm's music. So it was left to Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra to showcase an Arnold symphony at this year's Proms.
Angela Merkel's choice of mother-of-punk Nina Hagen to perform at her departure ceremony chimes with my recent Scott Ross thread . Despite being an authority of the music of Bach and Rameau, Scott Ross had refreshingly wide-ranging tastes in music. Here is Michel Proulx's description from his privately-published biography Scott Ross, Claveciniste - Un Destin Inachevé . '[Scott Ross] also liked synthesisers because he loved Brian Eno's, or Philip Glass' music, but also that of Nina Hagen and other artists from the 'non-formal' scene. I believe it was enough to present him with a subject which he would like for him to catch on it'. It was with the help of harpsichord maker, Zen Buddhist and biographer Michel Proulx that I found Scott Ross' little house in Assas which featured in my homage Scott Ross and the paradox of genius .
Timothy Leary was reputedly branded 'the most dangerous man in America' by Richard Nixon, although that attribution now seems apocryphal . Many will consider LSD guru Leary a fruitcake; but, like many brilliant mavericks, he provided much food for thought. During his time as a clinical psychologist at Harvard Leary proposed that behavourial change was not triggered by extended exposure to subliminal influences such as therapy, but to a single revelatory experience which he termed the 'vitalizing transaction'. It was the search for a consciousness-raising vitalizing transaction that led to Leary's love affair with LSD. Past Overgrown Path posts have explained how my 50 year passion for classical music was sparked by vitalizing transactions. These included 1950s performances by the Bournemouth Symphony of the Pathetique and of Holst's Planets by a local amateur orchestra , Emerson, Lake and Palmer's heretical take on Pictures At An Exhibition , and
This article is unique among the 4554 posts uploaded to On An Overgrown Path since August 2004. Because it agrees with a Slipped Disc post. Last week Norman uploaded a Slipped Disc reader's contribution headlined ' Why I won't be going back to concerts '. The thrust of the contribution was not the reader's fear of COVID, but how for him concerts had become "just a bit too often ordinary... a bit of a ritual". Which resonates with my recent post 'Where has all the musical adventurousness gone?' lamenting the demise of musicians who is transcend conventions and pursue their own unique musical visions. David Munrow is talking to Peter Maxwell Davies in that photo. In the early 1970s David Munrow’s Pied Piper radio programme was broadcast four times a week for five years and introduced a new audience to early music. He presented a successful TV series, and wrote scores for the BBC TV series The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elisabeth R , and
A comment added by Lukas Fierz in answer to my question Where has all the musical adventurousness gone? set me questioning once again whether music blogging, and that includes On An Overgrown Path , now serves any useful purpose. When OAOP first posted back in 2004 music blogging was driven by sharing discoveries and sharing experiences. Today that sense of revelation has been exorcised by a toxic mix of self-interest and couch activism, all driven by a paranoid pursuit of social approval. Readership numbers and egos have been boosted , but the music has suffered terminally. My recent post asked where has all the musical adventurousness gone? Who is transcending conventions and pursuing their own unique musical vision? In one of the most useful contributions to music blogging since the advent of social media, Lukas Fierz answered my question by listing a five contemporary musicians who are pushing the socially-defined classical comfort zone. Slipped Disc's leadership of the
Norman Lebrecht's Slipped Disc receives the unequivocal support of the classical music industry in the form of advertising, exclusive news and interviews, advertorial partnerships, and complimentary concert tickets and CDs. Yet Slipped Disc repeatedly publishes unmoderated misinformation about Covid vaccines - see just two examples above and below. Therefore the classical music industry is supporting potentially deadly anti-vax misinformation. (Follow this link for more on Dr. Luc Montagnier's alleged warning.) It pains me to hold Facebook up as an exemplar. But even that tainted social network banned misinformation about vaccines months ago: as the Guardian reported in February , Facebook "will remove posts with false claims and groups with repeated violations will be shut down". This is not about free speech. It is, like libel laws, about stopping irreversible damage by misinformation . Slipped Disc , supported by the classical industry, regularly demonises
That photo shows Malcolm Arnold with rock band Deep Purple at the time of the 1969 Albert Hall premiere of Jon Lord's Concerto for Group and Orchestra for which he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra . On An Overgrown Path made the case for Sir Malcolm's music long before it became a social media cause, and I was privileged to be invited into the composer's inner circle during the last years of his life. So I am delighted that his masterful Fifth Symphony is being performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sakari Oramo at tonight's BBC Prom . But I want to sound a note of caution. Finally ticking the Arnold Fifth Symphony box - this is its first Proms performance - is no more than a step in the right direction. Seven years ago William Alwyn's First Symphony was given a very welcome Proms outing by Sakari Oramo and the BBC SO. Since then not a note of Alwyn has been heard at the Proms. Beyond Sir Malcolm's Fifth there are later darker sy
As pointed out here previously Norman Lebrecht's Slipped Disc receives the unequivocal support of the classical music industry in the form of advertising, exclusive news and interviews, advertorial partnerships, and complimentary concert tickets and CDs. Yesterday Norman published an article headlined 'US orchestra: Conductor wanted. No whites need apply' which was sourced from the National Review . This conservative publication has a certain notoriety, including being one of the few media outlets to publish material written by Jeffrey Epstein's publicist Christina Galbraith . The National Review also publishes contributions by Dinesh D'Souza who has tweeted "So Rosa Parks wouldn't sit in the back of the bus--that's all she did, so what's the big fuss?" and this year ran an article bylined 'The Editors' proposing that the Equality Act "represents is a cynical attempt to use the Civil Rights Act as a Trojan horse for radi