He was not an online kind of person

In a 2013 article Peter Sheeran explained that Vernon Handley (Tod) "...was not an online kind of person, and his telephone answering process was not fool-proof, so if you needed to discuss something you either sent a taxi to drag him out of his home or went down to Skenfrith [his home in Monmouthshire] yourself". Since Tod died in 2008 we have all, whether we like it or not, become online people. But, despite their lack of online kudos, Tod's definitive cycles of the symphonies of Arnold Bax, Robert Simpson, Malcolm Arnold, Granville Bantock, and Charles Villiers Stanford remain towering achievements. 
Vernon Handley's advocacy even extended further. In 1999 he recorded Edgar Bainton's Second Symphony for Chandos, and eight years later Bainton's Third Symphony for Dutton. Edgar Bainton (1880-1956) worked and lived in both England and Australia; in 1932 toured India and was a guest  of  Rabindranath Tagore. His path to obscurity was hastened by his reportedly rejecting an application from Arnold Schoenberg for a position at the Sydney Conservatorium in 1934 on the grounds of "modernist ideas and dangerous tendencies". This rejection inevitably has led to allegations of anti-semitism. 

So it is pretty obvious that neither of Tod's Edgar Bainton recordings are exactly clickbait material, particularly as the couplings are music by Rutland Boughton, John Gough and Hubert Clifford. However all credit to the record labels for committing to these recordings, and even greater credit to Tod Handley for championing Edgar Bainton  and his peers. Tod's performances were always impeccably prepared and his choice of music was exemplary. But his discography reminds me of  Earle Browne speaking many years ago of the '6 Concerts '63' series: "'I don't think all of the works performed were great, or that all of the performances were great. But a festival should present what is going on, and in this sense it was a success. We were offering a gallery concept, not a museum concept".
There is a sobering reminder of those very different pre-online days in the form of Tod Handley's appearance on the BBC's Desert Island Discs programme; listen via this link. His choice of a single disc to take to his desert island was Sir Adrian Boult's recording of Arnold Bax's The Garden of Fand. Tod may not have been an online kind of person, but he certainly was my kind of conductor.


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