and Founder in 1990 of
The Battle for REAL Music
"Experts on tap - not on top!"
What relevance does a Music Department have
to the Society?
The men and women who lost their lives in
the wars of this century would expect us to so prize the freedoms
they secured for us, that in return we live lives that value quality
in all things, and nurture our children to do likewise.
The joy of individual and collective music
making is a life long enriching experience.
The Society is conscious of the many
problems composers and symphony orchestras face these days. They are
now so serious that the entire subject requires fundamental
There is a yearning among young people to
play musical instruments well. The majority - because they receive no
tuition - model themselves on pop stars and try to teach themselves;
and of course it shows.
The custom of hymn singing in former times;
and later, the singing of Broadway musicals or the popular songs of
the Cole Porter era and before; automatically taught four part
harmony, and proved an excellent education in harmony and
To most people older than 35, 'pop music' is
just commercialised background noise; but for the young people, pop
music is their way of expressing all the bewildering emotions created
by their awakening vibrant hormones - so we must not be too
censorious about their choice of music. They are certainly not going
to change it to please adults.
However there is a thought that I wish to
express before I proceed to my main theme.
Today 'music' is
remorselessly played, down telephones, in lifts, airports and
departmental stores, in the dentist's surgery, and often mindlessly
drenched over every item on TV. It is all pervasive, inescapable 24
hours a day, 365 days a year; so much so that we no longer listen -
we just 'hear'
it subconsciously. Are we by allowing this, putting at risk the
inborn musicality of our children by subjecting them
from before birth (for it has been proved that a foetus
can listen to the outside world) and then; as they begin to grow, to
today's all day long mass 'music'
The human race has evolved over thousands of
years, during the entire span of which it was never subjected to
anything louder than the occasional thunderclap. Its music was that
of human song, the sweet harp, lute and the flute. Until less than
300 years ago people never heard anything more than the minstrel's
song, the village Church organ, band and choir. What an incredible
experience it must have been for pilgrims to hear a Cathedral Organ
Only within the last 50 years has the human
race subjected itself to the remorseless all pervading, day and night
continuous synthetic 'music'
that is inescapable today. This is not by accident - it is by design,
for money is involved. Background 'music'
gives the musician's who made it 'repeat royalty payments': for very
substantial royalties are paid every time any film or TV programme
with music in it is repeated. In short there is a sound commercial
purpose for having music in films and TV programmes irrespective of
Oh how I wish I could turn music off for a
year and then see the tears of joy and wonder when Mozart was heard
Is it not strange how good parents
unthinkingly permit the merchants and their advertisers to so degrade
their children's inborn, superb aural selectivity?
In an ideal
world ALL children, from a very early age, should have periods in
their day of quietness; and as part of their education be taught not
only how to play an instrument but the origins of their wonderful
Such lucky children will then have no
difficulty in expressing themselves in a truly musical manner; for
they will have been taught first of all to listen, how to physically
co-ordinate; how to persevere, how to co-operate; when to stay
silent; about the spiritual quality of silence; when to speak; how to
do so confidently and eloquently: and to become conscious of the
quality of their musical (and thus verbal) tone. They will also at an
early age become aware of the commercial degradation of today's music
and the appalling noise pollution of our civilisation. In short, just
given back their cultural life enhancing birthright.
Because of their lack of musical education,
92% of the adult British public are ignorant about music today. How
many of the remaining musically 8% can detect when synthetic
electronic music is being played? How many children today have sat
close to a professional musician to listen to hand made music being
played on a hand made instruments? That is a sad
It is interesting to observe how rare it is
for a boy or girl who plays in a brass band to be in trouble with the
In mediaeval times, the vernacular music
from earlier generations was real music because it was a living art
form, having been refined for generations and from which eventually
came all the works of the great composers. Mass created, and mass
reproduced music stunts the peoples' ability to listen carefully
to music - they just 'hear' it.
The wonders of today's sound recording
technology have brought music of every variety into every corner of
our lives - both enriching and spoiling them. An example of the
latter is how the wonderful vernacular guitar music one could hear in
every village in Spain only just a few years ago has almost vanished:
all one hears in them today is synthesised commercial junk music -
here today - gone and forgotten tomorrow.
A piece of music
is properly known as a ' composition' , for it must have a musical idea - a theme - which
has a beginning, a middle, and an end; and be rendered into a
balanced whole with great thought and care by the composer so as to
illuminate his main musical subject. The creation of a musical
subject requires a creative imagination - something which cannot be
taught - it is a gift. This fact is sidestepped by music college
tutors, which is why so much contemporary music fails.
And yet those who announce CDs on Classic FM
are permitted by their musically ignorant managers to rip composers
work apart to play just the ' nice bits'. What arrogance! Do art galleries cut out and display
only the nice bits of pictures and junk the rest? What an insult to
Listening to Classic FM is spoilt because
one is always conscious of their silently ticking advertising stop
watch whilst the announcer - not listening to the music - reads his
book. The failure of the Classic FM to permit any reflective silence
after the performance of sublime music frequently shocks and angers
me. Such crass behaviour underlines the instructions to the staff
that the advertisements are more important than the music and they
should cram in as many as they can.
The Governors and Boards of Directors in all
today's broadcasting institutions, being musically ignorant, of
necessity leave the the staff of music departments to their own
Thus it appears that the staff in the Radio
3 new music selection department in reality control their superiors,
and have been free to run a stylistic anti English 'closed shop', and
have for years now favoured the homosexual ascendancy and foreign
Imagine there being only one publisher permitted in the UK for new
It is of course wrong that the BBC should be the only outlet for
composers in the UK but that is the reality. The homosexual
ascendancy that has existed for so long in the new music selection
department must be corrected. John Drummond took controllership of
Radio 3 for three years, but has stayed for ten years (to date) with
complete control of the musical tastes of a whole generation. Such a
monopoly is grotesque. An organisation is only as good as the person
at the top. Why did not John Drummond have the courage to face up
squarely to all these problems?
As a composer, unless you are promoted by the BBC, you do
not exist. That has been the plight of British composers since the
war. To composers, Radio 3 is a totalitarian state. The procedures
for selecting new music for broadcasting are as incompetent and
corrupt as those pertaining to the selection of parliamentary
candidates and the parliamentary whipping system. That the staff of
Radio 3 have been allowed to possess such power for so long is deeply
From 1959 onwards the 'arty' and fashionably
blackshirted' selectors of new music in BBC Radio 3, the Arts
Councils, and the dismal and swollen Music Departments of
Universities, fostered the absurd notion that all pre mid 20th
Century musical language - in particular tonality - no longer had any
relevance. This view was confirmed by all 15 selected entries (out of
over 1000) for the much-vaunted BBC Master Prize competition.
The death of tonality (the tiresome cliche
of the universities priesthood of 'musical experts') is as exhausted
as it is untrue. Support for this fallacy is essential for the
'musical' intelligentsia, for it is they who receive all the
accolades for 'scholarly' works and the international prizes that go
It is offensive for a composer to
'demand' from his listeners considerable time and effort to
appreciate his work - or to state the public are intellectually lazy.
The composer should beguile the listener.
It has been said that over the centuries
that man developed euphemism because it could be so wounding. Today -
especially where music is concerned - the precise meaning of musical
sentences are deliberately corrupted with euphemisms, so that people
can be misled by the pundits and made to feel they are ignorant
Those in a position to promote new music are
guilty of partiality. Most contemporary music fits into a set pattern
- with a pretentious title - far too much brass and percussion - no
identifiable theme - no development - no beginning middle and end -
no memorable phrases - and no big tunes. The Arts Council subsidised
commissions keep composers a safe distance from a wider audience, In
Handel's day, music had immense modernity and vitality.
The fact that after 40 years of this
nonsense, still only a tiny percentage of music lovers sincerely
enjoy exploring this 20th Century musical language is completely
ignored by the Radio 3 who still arrogantly assume, against all the
evidence, that in time all music lovers will be won over to the
contemporary musical language. Their proteges the 'advance-the-language' composers' hate the idea of melodic
contemporary music being performed, since its welcome by audiences
would undermine acceptance of their own 'true' contemporary idioms. This nonsense was started by
William Glock (knighted for doing so) the BBC Controller of Music
from 1959 to 1973.
At the other end of the musical spectrum,
unsupervised overgrown prattling disc jockeys, mentally no older than
teenagers, are daily subjected to inducements offered by the pop
industry's full time paid 'pluggers' - (this - believe or not - is actually their job
You say . . . 'well people listen . . . so
why what does it matter' ?
Music is a living art form - and like all
living things it can only evolve slowly. If it lives in a hostile
environment, it will die. A true musician knows this. A truly musical
culture evolves over generations, and then only can only evolve when
in the skilled hands of mature (not immature untrained) musicians.
All of this is common knowledge. So what do
I mean by The Battle for REAL
Music, especially when there are so
many styles of music, and where one man's music is another man's
In this lecture I shall commence from the position
that good music is music that arouses interest and leaves the mind
with difficulty. I shall replace the misnomer 'classical music' with the more accurate description
'Concert Hall Music' and thus arrive at the heart of the lecture - which is
why today's Concert Hall Music and all orchestras are struggling
Scanning the Concert Hall Musical scene
today, especially when we take into account the huge - sudden - and
entirely new changes that electronic music have introduced, coupled
with the global commercialisation of music, we realise that the slow
evolutionary process of vernacular music has been stopped forever -
and to our shock - we suddenly realise that we might in fact be at
the deathbed of Concert Hall Music.
So many fine composers suffer total neglect
today, because - unlike painters - they cannot hang their work on the
park railings for the public to view. They are totally dependent upon
Unknown to the British public, there exists
in England at least eight very fine symphonic composers who are
entirely neglected by the BBC.
In alarm we ask . . . should we not
form a Society for the Protection of Music? You cannot - for that
would fossilise music.
There already is a British Music Society; it
was founded in 1979 by enthusiasts who believed an organisation was
needed to stem the indifferent attitude generally displayed towards
the music of many British composers.
It writes . .
Composers, such as Henry Purcell, Vaughan
Williams, Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten do not need much support,
whilst others such as Arthur Sullivan, Frederick Delius, Frank Bridge
and Peter Warlock have their own organisations to promote their
music. But there are many other composers who have written good music
which deserves to be promoted and heard.
So why is so much British music
neglected? It could be argued that if a composer's music were of any
worth it might be better known. This is not so, however, because the
popularity of a composer's music is greatly determined by public
exposure. Concert promoters and record producers will often,
understandably, limit themselves to 'safe' programmes to ensure a
good financial return. As a result lesser-known music does not
receive the chance it so often deserves.
The purpose of this lecture is to attempt to
point a way forward.
The BBC's Charter states that it should
uphold and advance excellence in musical culture; and yet for the
last 30 years, Radio 3 has lost listeners because opinionated
salaried intellectuals in the department have favoured almost
exclusively foreign and homosexual composers and have alienated the
public by programming (under the name of 'progressive musical
composition') pretentious titled, toneless, tuneless, inconsequential
and structureless compilations, which are devoid of true musical
themes or emotion and denying all the basic principles of
composition, and which are no more than an assortment of percussive
endlessly repetitive sound effects. Above all - that
utter travesty of modern music - 'minimalism' -
by which a so-called 'composer' may relegate all responsibility of
composition to the scrap heap. Yet the promoters find they can sell
this to a gullible public anxious not to be left behind in accepting
trendy gimmicks, trendy images, trendy quasi-intellectual comments.
Being just noise (sound devoid of any intellectual or spiritual
qualities) little wonder aural and intellectual impatience and
contempt by listeners is the result, and the radio public switches to
a more agreeable station.
1955 to 2000 might well be known musically
as 'The Deviancy Period'.
The composer Robert Simpson - probably Radio 3s most
gifted member of staff ever - resigned in 1981 after 28 years service
in disgust at what was happening in respect to the selection of new
music, and stated in his book entitled 'The Proms and Natural Justice' - (essential reading for anyone who cares about
Concert Hall Music) . . . "it is now
possible for a totally non-musical person to call himself a composer
. . . " Hans Keller described the occupation of these
'modernist' composers as bogus professions. My experience is that
composing is not - and can never be - a full time occupation.
Is it not interesting to observe that no-one
today properly listens to either of
these pop or serious musical outpourings?
The public - in despair at today's new
Concert Hall Music - are lectured by those in charge of new music
selection at the BBC, that there are no tuneful composers any longer
(because they had decided there were not to be any? )
saying that everyone
(?) agreed that former styles
Neither the BBC, nor the public, have any
idea of the suffering and financial distress this untruth has caused
some of England's most gifted and dedicated composers and what the
nation has lost as a consequence - both in fine art - musical
prestige - and foreign earnings.
Why was it that so much melodious,
attractive, and musically educated English music vanished after the
What happened at the BBC during the last 30
to 40 years that caused the work of British composers (whose
compositions lay between the above two extremes) to be
With so many fine scores landing on their
desks, the staff at the BBC should not have been allowed to
commission any new music until they had recorded and broadcast what
they were given free. And why is that their commissioned music
is rarely heard again?
In spite of the long history of music - the
controllers at Radio 3 still cannot see that the composer who writes
independently of them - and purely for the love of music and his
subject - even though he impoverish himself in the process - is far
more likely to forge a work of original art, than will a person who
is fighting to complete a BBC commissioned work to a deadline.
Radio 3s New Music selection procedures are
inept - if not fraudulent. It is very sad to observe how so
often BBC serious music commentators appear to consider themselves
more worthy of being listened to, rather than any of today's
neglected British composers.
The conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was cynical
- but correct - when he said "Conductors
are failed composers . . . and critics failed conductors".
He was speechless about programme
There is a
fine art in good conducting, it encompasses not only very
comprehensive musical and psychological learning, it requires
practical experience and a high quality teaching ability, both for
performers and audiences and in not only the classics, but also in
the truly musical
new works of today's neglected
Where do we see such conductors today? We
now have a generation of dinosaurs - conductors in their seventies
and upwards who carry on as if the world hasn't changed - the
Maazel's, the Mehta's, the Muti's. They play the role of the grand
maestro when the grand maestro doesn't really exist anymore.
Most conductors - but happily not all - are
showmen, content that the Concert Hall Music public remain musically
immature and that their jet-setting mega star lifestyle, great wealth
and camera conscious conducting virility falsely appears as a sign of
musicianship'. The profession accepts idolatry more
happily than any other and is incapable of the objectivity that most
other professions take for granted.
The best judges of conductors and new music
are orchestral players. Listen to the comments of orchestral
players after having been condemned to play under some of the most
highly-toted conductors or performing some of the spurious new
'music' of today!
I quote from Norman Lebrecht's book THE
MAESTRO MYTH, subtitled Great Conductors in Pursuit of Power.
"In a matter of twelve decades, the
has risen from humble servant in a composer's court
to be master of musical destiny.
The composer, meanwhile, has become as poor
as a church mouse and equally muted."
"Today, (1990) a run of the mill
fee is $10,000 a night, a Barenboim or Giulini
holds out for double that amount.
It would take an American car worker in their audience
half a year to earn as much."
"At the time of his death Leonard
minimum fee was DM 40,000.
In the post Prague spring of 1990,
he was paid for one concert what a
Czech schoolmaster would earn in 25 years."
conductors should hang their heads in shame at their failure to
befriend and help today's neglected composers by bringing their work
before the public (likewise should the Heads of Music colleges be
ashamed of their deafening silence on all these matters). Neither are
worthy of their positions if during the course of their careers they
have not brought to public attention the music of unknown composers.
Both should have challenged the honesty of BBC new music selection
procedures years ago.
The invariable response to the many
complaints by composers to Radio 3 is . . . "try and interest a
conductor in your work".
In making this cynical response, they know
full well that conductors have no budgets to promote any new work,
nor have conductors any power to have a new work included in a
broadcast. Moreover conductors step warily where Radio 3 and new
music is concerned, for they know they are dependent upon Radio 3's
patronage via their agents for the furtherance of their careers.
Another reason for conductors lack of
influence is that only a very few of them (the very gifted) can
mentally read a full orchestral score (anything up to 26 separate
lines of music all playing together) - including many transposing
instruments - up to tempo - and hear all the percussion as
The senior management in the BBC have
assumed that the new music selectors in Radio 3 can in fact read
orchestral scores. The truth is they cannot. Of course
they will never admit it. (It is one of those things that cannot be
proved). Because they will never admit this, they distance themselves
from the very few people who can, and continue to huddle close to
their existing composer friends. Careful listening to their opinions
as expressed in various Radio 3 programmes reveals these
How then, you ask, can anyone know what a
piece of new music is truly like before committing the BBC to the
considerable expense of a performance? Simple. If the
work does not transcribe succesfully for the piano for the panel to
assess, but is nonetheless competently notated and submitted complete
with orchestral players parts; then a movement of the work should be
properly rehearsed and performed and submitted to the panel. More
upon this matter later.
In the global musical scene, the high
profile conductors - in colluding with the two major worldwide
musical agency cartels, behave likewise; for they are completely
controlled by their agents who refuse to take any financial or
These high profile conductors are the
product of the image builders - they are nothing like so talented as their publicists
make out. In collusion with
their agents, they bring upon themselves great shame for their greed,
and for how, when into their rich dotage, they still ruthlessly
exclude younger conductors. The BBC goes along with this
Why are BBC orchestras so often conducted by
foreigners when there is an abundance of British talent?
Thus it is
that today, effete musical snobs in BBC Radio 3, retain the monopoly
as to which composers are to be made fashionable and reverentially
interviewed and publicised. Note how they then bask in the reflected
glory! It is wrong that they are able to exclude completely - and
have done so now for nearly three decades - far more talented British
Composers are just ordinary people - no more special than painters
and authors. Why the BBC makes them so 'precious' defeats me!
The musical compositions of the Radio 3 BBC
pets - had they not been promoted by the BBC - would never have seen
the light of day. Even after prolonged BBC hype about their
work - when performed - the concert halls empty and they are never
heard again. What a waste of licence payers money.
No-one today has the courage to stand up
today and say that most of today's 'pop' - and most serious music -
is commonplace or just BAD.
Were conductors to seek out and support
neglected composers, help them, and then tutor the musical public; we
could then expect and enjoy many new works each year. So why
don't they? It is because Radio 3's policies need a radical
re-think after all its senior management have been pensioned
Today music is not about fine art - it is
all about image making and salesmanship. This applies to some of our
musical names who sell themselves to advertising. Anything so
nebulous as talent, especially for composition, is a minor
Shaming as it was - one million pounds paid
to a conductor recently for one
broadcast performance, is as nothing, when the sales receipts are
£10 million. It is all image making and salesmanship and the
whole musical industry is now controlled by a musical money mafia.
How can fine beautiful
new Concert Hall Music be at the pinnacle of our
civilisation when adults and children are musically illiterate? Why
are the arts so perverse today when our civilisation is a cornucopian
Listen to Churchill speaking in 1945 . . . .
"I have now stated the two great
dangers which menace the homes of the people: War and Tyranny. I have
not yet spoken of poverty and privation which are in many cases the
But if the dangers of war and tyranny are
removed, there is no doubt that science and co-operation can bring in
the next few years to the world, certainly in the next few decades
newly taught in the sharpening school of war, an expansion of
material well-being beyond anything that has yet occurred in human
Now, at this sad and breathless moment, we
are plunged in the hunger and distress which are the aftermath of our
stupendous struggle: but this will pass and may pass quickly, and
there is no reason except human folly or sub-human crime which should
deny to all the nations the inauguration and enjoyment of an age of
I have often used words which I learned
fifty years ago from a great Irish-American orator, a friend of mine,
Mr Bourke Cockran.
'There is enough for all. The earth is a
generous mother; she will provide in plentiful abundance food for all
her children if they will but cultivate her soil in justice and in
5th March I946
the above one demands to know why our civilisation is so unhappy that
it is infested with drugs, pornography and so much crime - and this
after vast sums of taxpayers money are given to support the arts via
The Arts Council?
The Arts Council subsidies have done to the
arts in England what subsidies have done to agriculture and British
Leyland - corrupted everyone and after squandering millions, beggared
them: forcing everyone to pay taxes to enrich the incompetent, who
then make unwanted bad cars, bad food and uniformly bad, so called
'art'. The public despises modern art but are not allowed to say so,
so they silently snigger, sigh and ignore it.
Because we have forgotten our history, a
battle has to be fought again in England: it is the battle for free
Why is the public so tolerant today of what
is spurious, effete, freakish, and ugly and which masquerades as fine
"Where there is a public trough -
there are always swine"
The cultural commissars of The Arts Council,
supported by the administrators of Radio 3, in favouring for so long
bogus composers and their many clones and in so doing silencing for
so long 'unacceptable' composers: by their lack of musical integrity
have suppressed musical free speech, and thus failed the public in
The Arts Council should be abolished. Until this happens, there is no
hope of an artistic revival in the UK.
There is no room in Radio 3 today for
musical versatility, except in a dilettantish sense. The compositions
of Leonard Bernstein, even with his flair for self-publicity, would
doubtless have been consigned to a dusty shelf had he been a British
national attempting to work in this country.
"Experts on tap - not on
Foreign composers, conductors and soloists
are well received by the BBC, however slight their gifts; but the
foreign credentials won by British composers count for nothing. Is
this because they bring the assessment abilities of the Radio 3
arbiters into question?
It is now coming to light that there were
excellent British composers working during the last thirty years and
that (it is now frequently alleged), a Radio 3 blacklist of them
existed - indeed still does exist.
For over 25 years now, these composers,
unable to make a living from composition, were all forced by poverty
and despair to give up composing. What a loss to everyone! What a
loss to the nation of foreign earnings. Think upon it - wealth
created without importing any raw materials - gold from abroad just
from native brains and thought.
What arrogant folly on the part of the
govenors of the BBC!
A Parliamentary Select Committee should investigate
these allegations, and also the colossal BBC musical expenditure I
will shortly refer to. They should investigate the role of the Opera
Houses and their cosy relations with the two international
billionaire musical agencies who control all the major artists,
orchestras and conductors and certain composers. Their influence with
the BBC and the control they possess (in what is now a stupendous
global musical industry) will astonish the enquiry. Some of their
financial deals are breathtaking. It is said that one of them has its
own £40 million Gulf stream jet aircraft.
Does it never cross the minds of Mrs
Bottomley (Minister for the Arts) - indeed any MP - let alone
professional musicians and conductors - to query how the 'pop music'
industry manages financially so well without any Arts Council or BBC
How can true art flourish and what can true
artists do, when faced with the facts outlined above? Facts which are
compouned by ruthless and formidable money making by these world wide
Where are the cultured patrons of new music
today? They have vanished because they see conductors are vastly more
wealthy than they are. Nor will they any longer pay the fees demanded
by the artists' agents.
Artists have little or no say in any
financial dealings once they have signed up with these agencies, nor
has the BBC. (These same
agencies not only control the entire music industry, they control
tennis, golf, darts, sailing, motor racing, probably much of
football, and cricket and probably much of the TV rights on such
things as the Olympics if the truth were known). These agencies insist on keeping total control of
every aspect of their artist's programmes, and personal
It is noteworthy that these agentcies keep a
low a profile, and that they decline to tell anyone the name of the
artists and the conductors they manage or the fees involved. Their
influence with Opera House managements should investigated. It has
been alleged that a deal of £1 million pounds was paid to a
conductor for a single concert. It has been alleged that the agency
involved in this transaction took their cut of the conductor's fee,
the orchestra's fee, many of the player's fees - they took a cut of
the TV fees and CD manufacturing costs, and a cut of the advertising
and marketing costs. In short - the whole operation was a 'wheels
within wheels' financial clean sweep right across the board. When
they produce records for charity - no-one thinks to ask how much the
production costs are 'increased' to ensure there are no loss of profits to
The 'art' of these money men has to be
admired. Their job is to get the best price. Their management skills
are essential to everyone. But not their cartels.
All that is needed to solve the problems in
the musical world today is competition; ie dozens of agencies all
competing . . . . . . then see how all the new young talented
conductors will swiftly gain experience and how artists, composers,
and new opera houses, and concert halls will blossom.
The cause of all the trouble in the musical
world today is that music is a multi billion pound industry and the
market is rigged.
There being no Free Trade in music - as always - when businessmen enforce
protectionism - (ie monopolies and cartels) - corruption is the
An Institution is only as good as the man at
the top. We won the Second World War and the Cold War, because
real leaders - President Roosevelt with Mr Churchill - Ronald
Reagan and Mrs Thatcher, did not flinch from some very hard
A first class Chairman of the Board of
Governors of the BBC would have observed this problem a long time
ago, and would have sought advice from a wide spectrum of practising
professional musicians, and a dedicated group of lay music listeners
- not from just the existing small, ensconced, and opinionated
snobbish intellectual clique. In other words - like Churchill during
the war - he would have ensured . . . . that musical experts
were - on tap - not on
top! and that honourable selection
procedures were in place for the works of today's composers, and that
the financial and artistic management of Radio 3 was independently
The root cause of all the troubles in our
national musical life today is the absence of true musicality in the
top echelons of our society. The fault for this lies with their lack
of a an educated musical environment in their very early
Thus it is that unmusical politicians
appoint unmusical Arts Council apparatchiks, and the unmusical
Governors of the BBC leave the appointment of music staff to a self
perpetuating clique in the BBC, few of whom have composed anything,
and yet, secure in their distinguished and well paid pensionable
jobs, and travelling free and in great style worldwide; are
the gatekeepers and as such; are accountable to no-one. Only
they are able to grant audiences; and do so only to their
Because of the failure of Classic FM to
support today's neglected British composers, the staff in Radio 3
still retain their ability to silence composers they dislike, for
there is no other outlet for the music of today's composers.
The BBC still remains the sole custodian of
contemporary music in the UK. Yet the BBC claims in its expensive
self congratulatory advertising to 'cater for all musical tastes'.
That is a lie.
The granting of a Licence to broadcast to
Classic FM was intended to break that monopoly.
The staff at Radio 3 are fully conscious of
the power this monopoly gives them and aware of the fact that if a
composer is not promoted by them - the gatekeepers - then the public
can have no knowledge of that composers work - or indeed his very
The BBC, in
taking money from the public via the annual licence fee, is in
dereliction of its charter by not allowing the works of so many good
British contemporary composers to be heard. Moreover
their prime responsibility is to the British public and British artists.
Why is it that on the radio we always hear
so many foreign (and so few British) conductors, soloists, and
composers? The implication is that the British ones are not up to the
mark. That is preposterous! Why is it that our young conductors have
to go abroad to find opportunities. . . . that is shameful. The
favouring of a globalised
musical style of composition
by the managers of Radio 3 is just self opinionated folly. It is
certain to end in the death of good British music.
The root cause of the decline of the arts in
England is the existence of the Arts Council. The era of its
existence is indelibly shamed by deviancy, decay, and the demise of
the fine arts. The Tate Gallery Exhibitions of Arts Council sponsored
trash reveals only the tip of the corrupt iceberg of patronage that
is The Arts Council. The Arts Council is run for the benefit of the
Arts Council staff.
It is morally wrong for politicians to take
money from taxpayers to give to the arts. The great classical works
of the past were created without an Arts Council. No great work of
art has been created by its sponsorship since its formation. If the
public want fine art, then let them acquire it in just the same way
as their other requirements - by creating a demand and paying the
free trade open market price.
Experience of dealing with the Arts Council
is a bureaucratic nightmare. It is luxuriously housed, has lazy,
overpaid, over pensionable staff, and is better than Dickensian past
masters at writing buck passing letters. Compare its failures with
the superb self efficiency of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
and one begins then to realise the extent of its incompetence.
For over a thousand years the British have
slowly and often painfully shaped their customs and culture. Today,
both continue to shape us. It is impossible to ignore the influences
of our early years and our native land. It is wholly wrong of Radio 3
and The Arts Council to be so often favouring foreign artists and
conductors and especially foreign composers over British ones. This
is not only most unjust, it also implies that this is all that is
available to them today.
The perverse refusal of programme managers
in Radio 3 to find opportunities for British composers is so blatant
that it is now outrageous, and their stubborn refusal to play the
first class CD recordings made by foreign orchestras of their
compositions which they bring back home, is deliberate
The BBC spends £18 million per annum on
its own ensembles and as much again paying for performances by
independent orchestras and opera companies. (£36 million
per annum Daily Telegraph 11th December 1996).
This is £99,000 every day - 365 days
every year - and no-one queries a penny of this expenditure!)
Where on earth does this vast sum of money
The camouflaged musical agency cartels,
control every aspect of the major artists and conductors lives and
know how - year upon year - (silently) to make this vast honey pot of
public money appear to Arts Councils and Governments alike, always
inadequate. The BBC producers are putty in their hands. The
management at the BBC are unable to control them.
If the BBC orchestras were to be permanently
disbanded tonight; what percentage of British people would notice or
care? Such is their impact upon our nation's artistic stature.
The BBC is charged to have a policy of
advancing and upholding excellence in musical culture. Under the
present Bland/Birt regime all that has gone, and these vast sums of
British people's money are not only wasted - but also make the BBC
With all the facilities and funding the BBC
possess, why is it that they have never produced a world class
Why is it that the audience for the BBC's
output of new music is so small it cannot be statistically
Who actually finances 'pop music'? Is it
funded from laundered drug dealing money? Or is it the other way
The BBC does not promote uneducated
literature. Why does it then use the licence fee to promote
uneducated - indeed sometimes crass - 'pop'? If it feels it
must broadcast pop, then why does it not run teaching courses for the
musically illiterate pop 'musicians', and also train the pop disc
Does it not occur to the Governors of the
BBC that in allowing the promotion of some types of 'pop' they may be
subsidising - indeed creating a market place for drugs? Mrs Edwina
Currie's daughter (at considerable personal risk) was set up as a
stooge pop star by the TV programme entitled The Cook Report
recently. Mr Cook proved beyond all doubt that fraud was taking place
but so far I have heard nothing about any reforms by those
responsible for this state of affairs within that industry, or of the
BBC abandoning the chart system.
Today's corruption of
children is immensely sad. The corruption of their aural and musical
inheritance spans all classes. Our children have been led away from
their marvellous musical inheritance by commercial pied
The (privately spoken) tales of woe from
members of The Composer's Guild and members of the Association of
Professional Composers over the last 30 years in respect to the
inadequacies and indeed injustices of Radio 3s new music selection
procedures are many and very distressing, but they fear the
consequences of speaking out.
Mr John Spearman, Chairman of Classic FM
(with its 8 million listeners), boasts that he has appointed the The
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to "a
residency at Classic FM" (whatever
that means). But what he fails to inform his listeners is that the
orchestra has to find a sponsor before any concerts will be
broadcast. (Norman Lebrecht,
Daily Telegraph 11th December 1996)
British composers are hurt and deeply
disappointed with Classic FM for failing to promote new British
music. With profit being its only raison d'etre, why should it (?)
enjoying as it does enormous profits from advertising and an ability
to broadcast from a huge legacy of fine music upon which no
composer's royalties have to be paid. Why should they bother with
Don't blame all composers for alienating the
public with disagreeable modern music. Blame the lack of wise,
musically cultured BBC Governors, for their failure to be either
interested in, or to appoint and oversee, honest 'new music'
selection committees, consisting of ten to twenty wise, discerning,
and knowledgeable professional musicians and lay knowledgeable music
Again I quote - this time from the
distinguished British composer - that is only distinguished
abroad in Japan, Europe and the USA - James Stevens
"how sad it is that Radio 3s
music selectors are wholly influenced by communal prejudices, just as
are the pop programme producers by the pop music moguls". He
goes on " how sad it is that for over 25 years
now the BBC new music selection policies have failed so many of our
best composers - indeed I can say looking back over my experiences
with Radio 3 controllers during these years that the integrity of the
procedures is suspect - but no-one in the BBC can publicly
acknowledge this fact, nor indeed do they care; and no-one there
today has the courage to demand urgent reform".
Robert Simpson -
now retired after a 28 year career in the BBC music department said
in a TV tribute to Malcolm Arnold "that the prejudices (of the BBC music new panel) can
destroy the career of a brilliant composer". Whilst this small elite clique of programme
controllers in BBC Radio 3 continue to retain a total monopoly over
who is - and who is not - a composer in the UK today, the only
contemporary music which will be broadcast will be, and is, that of
It is very well known that examiners choose
the compositions of their own pupils. Thus one endlessly reads in
programme biographical notes . . . that he studied under so and so . . . as if that is
justification in itself!
Composers forget at their peril the basic rule of art is - to please - to
stir - to move - to enthral, and maybe sometimes - but not
always - to
challenge and provoke.
The edifice of BBC subsidised commissions,
keep composers a safe distance from a wider audience - in Mozart's day classical
music had immense modernity and vitality. The Magic Flute was the
paradigm of 'pop music'.
To state the obvious - just because great
composers in the past received bad first performances and thus
hostile receptions, that does not mean that those who receive one
today is likely to be a great composer.
The BBC, possessing as it does, such a vast
annual musical budget, should never have permitted any decline in
musical standards - indeed with such an annual fortune it should have
made England - and the BBC - the musical envy of the world.
Why have not the British people a
superlative orchestra - one of international standing - and one of
which they are inordinately proud?
With the financial and
musical resources that the BBC can command, there should be no reason
why every competently written score sent to the BBC should not be
properly performed and recorded under the baton of trainee conductors
(with the composer present) and performed within three months of its
submission. Today it is a common experience for composers to
have to wait two years before their scores are returned marked
'rejected' and five years for a selected one to be performed!
The recordings of new compositions should
then be submitted within a month to one of three mixed professional
and lay 'listening panels'. They should decide within the following
month which are worthy of broadcasting; and thereafter every day of
the week in a prominent broadcasting time slot on the different
channels, one of those recordings be broadcast with a repeat later in
In this way new (and the now physically old
and neglected) British composers' works can be heard. New (and old)
orchestral players, new young conductors and a multitude of new young
singers will be kept busy and new music be provided for radio
In short, the total and complete reversal of
Radio 3s musically snobbish and clique ridden policy of the last 30
Donemus in the Netherlands proves that it
can be done - so why cannot it be done in England?
Radio 3 must be subjected to stiff
competition. Until that exists, there is no hope of its incompetent
staff being cleared out.
Non BBC Orchestras should have been funded
as Dr Anthony
Field suggested in 1964, and
received a one off substantial endowment. This should be the policy
today with their lottery endowment funds invested in government stock
and substantial enough for the interest thereon to replace subsidies
at their present or increased levels. Each orchestra then to have its
finances controlled by a board of accountants and successful local
businessmen. As Dr Field has pointed out, this would have the
advantages of channelling lottery funds into government investment as
well as rendering unnecessary the annual negotiations for Arts
Council grant-in-aid. It might also bring a little humility into the
minds of Western globe trotting self important, stage struck
conductors, cut their salaries, expenses and contracts - and with
luck their ego's down to size; and in the process create
opportunities for the next generation of conductors. The conductors
are seriously to blame for much of today's mess, and many still have
attitudes as outdated as those of 1930's film stars.
As a composer I have
spent the last 30 years observing the musical world. I can
assure you that while music will always be one of God's many
priceless gifts - the Devil has mightily cashed in on music since the
creation of the Arts Council. Life for the many unknown independently
minded British composers during these last 30 years has been utterly
miserable - probably the worst time for composers in the history of
I have seen how the Arts Council money has
corrupted the laws of supply and demand; the public taste, and
artists' and conductors' expectations and ambitions. I have seen how
orchestral musician's lives have become one long nightmare of travel
and virtual homelessness. Little wonder so many take to drink. What
we have today is a market grotesquely distorted to the point where no
conductor gives a thought to orchestral players pay, welfare, or
working conditions, or the immense outlay they have to make to
purchase and insure their instruments. Nor does it ever occur
to conductors to share their recording copyright income - which would
not exist without these players.
The time has now come when the demise of
many orchestras must take place. Thank God! Now at long last we can
go to the root of the trouble and sort the mess out. Orchestras must
vastly reduce their travelling. This in itself would save huge sums
of money and create a more civilised lifestyle for the players.
Provision of proper capital funding of the
fewer orchestras (from the Lottery) invested in gilts is essential.
This financial fact of life can no longer be evaded. Orchestral
endowments must include the outright purchase of a suitable
modern(ised) concert hall. The capital must be untouchable and
provide sufficient income for its maintenance, and to properly pay
the players. Players and staff should be contracted to the
orchestra's management under modern employment terms and conditions.
They should not be allowed to freelance (but may teach a set number
of hours per week) so that when they arrive for work they are fresh
and happy. Their hours should no more than 35 per week and agreed
between themselves and their management. Orchestral management should
be with the consent of the players - not by them
- they are not qualified and have
more than enough to concentrate upon. A pool of talented but
inexperienced conductors should available for junior orchestra
rehearsals and to act as stand-ins.
The whole question of conductors fees and
guest conductors should be examined. The present situation is as
outdated as the 1930's Hollywood film star system. The monopoly the
two agencies have over all the (so called) top conductors and
soloists must be subjected to competition. This will force massive
reductions in their inflated cartel fees and many more artists and
conductors will be then available.
Its an old fashioned (and rather boring
concept) - but nonetheless true -
that Free Trade must prevail for both
commerce and art to find their natural state of
repose. Those who contend that the fine arts cannot survive
without subsidies are ignorant of history. The public instantly
recognises quality - but if the BBC and Classic FM deliberately
suppress quality new music, the public cannot to be blamed for not
Throughout Radio 4's day, five minute
interludes of new music should be played between each programme.
Nothing could better promote new music, the work of new composers and
employ performers and orchestras - to everyones' enrichment.
In short . . . . let me conclude with the
two essential reforms that are required - serious musical education of the young (and
old) and competition in every aspect of the nation's musical
It was remiss of the Thatcher Government not
to have closed down the both the Department of Heritage and the Arts
Council. Our people are quite capable of protecting and nurturing
what they love, and can do it far better than official bossy
busybodies. To prove the point
just look at the achievements of wholly independently funded National
Trust, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Royal
National Lifeboat Association.
THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY is anxious to help
good unknown composers to obtain quickly at least one first class
recording of their work. This is essential for their development, for
they need to hear in reality the results of their musical
Only by rethinking the entire subject of
music - only by being prepared to become wholly independent (if
necessary, discarding ALL former financial subsidies and musical
management concepts and restrictive practices); and (maybe), if all
else fails - only as a self regulating musical society within THE
CHURCHILL SOCIETY producing recordings under its own label, will a
new and honest way forward be found.
"We must recognise that
we have a great treasure to guard;
that the inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged
achievement of the centuries;
that there is not one of our simple uncounted rights today
for which better men than we are, have not died on the scaffold or
"We have not only a great
we have a great cause".
"Are we taking every measure within
our power to defend that cause"?
September 24th 1936.
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