Fifty years on traditional institutions still remain
In his masterly cultural history of the demise of 1960s counterculture The Bad Trip James Riley puts the premiere of Britten's War Requiem - seen above - into politico-cultural context. Sadly his description of how traditional structures and institutions remained in the '60s, despite transformative opportunities offered by modernisation, still applies today to both the UK's political and social establishment and to the classical music industry:
Please Please Me may have been a standout pop record of 1963, but probably the most critically acclaimed release of the year was the recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem (1962). Britten's composition was dedicated to the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral, a building that had been destroyed by bombs that fell in November 1940. Filled with a sense of loss but marking also an act of triumphant reconstruction, Britten's piece served as an accurate barometer of the national pulse. The country would prevail not because of its transformative embrace of the modern, but because its traditional structures and institutions remain. Similarly shored up by Conservative rule, Britain's political and social establishment, despite its concessions to reform, also remained secure: as strong and steadfast as the Albert Hall during an air raid.No review samples used in this post. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email by entering your email address in the right-hand sidebar. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).