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The Churchill Society
London.

"What is the use of living if it be not to strive
for noble causes and to make this muddled
world a better place for those who will
have it after we have gone?"

Winston Churchill
Dundee October 9th 1908

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1996 CHRISTMAS LECTURE

by

Norman Harvey Rutherlyn

Composer of

THE CHURCHILL MUSIC

and Founder in 1990 of

THE CHURCHILL SOCIETY

The Battle for REAL Music

"Experts on tap - not on top!"
Winston Churchill.

ViolinYou ask.

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 examination.

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 counterpoint.

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'  cacophony?

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 and choir?

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 its quality.

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 again!

Is it not strange how good parents unthinkingly permit the merchants and their advertisers to so degrade their children's inborn, superb aural selectivity?

Saxaphone.JpegIn 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 musical inheritance.

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 deprivation.

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 police.

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.

Double BassA 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 the composers.

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 devices.

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 composers..


Imagine there being only one publisher permitted in the UK for new literature!

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 disturbing.

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 with them.

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 description!)

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 poison?

TubaIn 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 to survive.

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 broadcasters.

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'.

GuitarThe 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 were exhausted.

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 war?

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 suppressed?

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 producers!

tromboneThere 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 composers.

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  'their profound 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 conductor
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 conductors
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 Bernstein's
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."

CelloToday's British 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 well.

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 facts.

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 artistic risks.

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 situation.

Why are BBC orchestras so often conducted by foreigners when there is an abundance of British talent?

SousaphoneThus 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.

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 off.

Today music is not about fine art - it is all about image making and salesmanship. This applies to some of our national 'illustrious'  musical names who sell themselves to advertising. Anything so nebulous as talent, especially for composition, is a minor consideration.

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.

OboeHow 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 paradise ?

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 prevailing anxiety.

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 experience.

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 plenty.

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 peace.'

Winston Churchill

Fulton, Missouri,

5th March I946

MetronomeAfter reading 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 artistic speech.

Why is the public so tolerant today of what is spurious, effete, freakish, and ugly and which masquerades as fine art?

Russian proverb.

"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 every respect.

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 top!"

Winston Churchill.

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.

Why?

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 subsidies?

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 entrenched monopolies?

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 publicity.

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 them.

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 inevitable result.

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 decisions.

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 monitored.

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 years.

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 proteges.

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 existence.

TromboneThe 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 suppression.

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 vanish to?

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 enemies.

With all the facilities and funding the BBC possess, why is it that they have never produced a world class orchestra?

Why is it that the audience for the BBC's output of new music is so small it cannot be statistically measured?

Who actually finances 'pop music'? Is it funded from laundered drug dealing money? Or is it the other way round?

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 plugging announcers?

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.

TubaToday'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 pipers!

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 modern composers?

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 lovers.

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".

Double BassRobert 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 their friends.

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?

SaxaphoneWith 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 the month.

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 listeners.

In short, the total and complete reversal of Radio 3s musically snobbish and clique ridden policy of the last 30 years.

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.

ViolinAs 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 music.

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 wanting it.

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 life.

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 thoughts.

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 the battlefield".

"We have not only a great treasure;
we have a great cause".

"Are we taking every measure within our power to defend that cause"?

Winston Churchill

Paris,

September 24th 1936.

 

 

...................Ladybird.

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