Judith Weir, Tarik O'Regan, and Roxanna Panufnik are among the composers with commissions for the coronation of King Charles. I just hope they know what they have let themselves in for. The future King professes an enthusiasm for classical music, but this comes with strong views.
Michael Tippett's Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles was commissioned by the BBC in 1948 to celebrate the birth of the heir to the throne, and is undoubtedly the composers most tuneful work. But I am told by a major London orchestra manager who tried to programme the Suite for a concert in the royal presence that Charles hates the piece. In his autobiography the great arts visionary Sir John Drummond gave a candid view on Charles' tastes:
"I have always found the Prince's lack of interest in anything to do with the arts in our time depressing, since all his opinions get so widely reported. It seems to me that he has had unrivalled opportunities to get to understand the twentieth century, but he has rejected it without hesitation. Both Denys Lasdun and Colin St John Wilson of the British Library, found work hard to get in the UK in the aftermath of the Prince's criticisms.
I cannot believe it is a proper use of royal patronage to increase unemployment among architects. And it is the same with music. Having listened together at a Bath Festival concert to a superb performance of Alban Berg's String Quartet, written in 1910, the Prince turned to me and said, 'Well you can't call that music, but I suppose you would John.' 'And so should you, sir,' I replied defiantly. We had quite an argument, and later that evening he told our host that he liked me but unfortunately I was wrong about everything."
Judith Weir, Tarik O’Regan, Roxanna Panufnik, et al should take care. Otherwise they may end up in the Tower.