(Roughly) Daily

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast”*…



… or not.

Consider the Portsmouth Sinfonia…

an English orchestra founded by a group of students at the Portsmouth School of Art in 1970. The Sinfonia was generally open to anyone and ended up drawing players who were either people without musical training or, if they were musicians, ones that chose to play an instrument that was entirely new to them. Among the founding members was one of their teachers, English composer Gavin Bryars. The orchestra started as a one-off, tongue-in-cheek performance art ensemble but became a cultural phenomenon over the following 10 years, with concerts, record albums, a film and a hit single. [source]

For your corespondent’s money, the apex (nadir) of their work was their performance of “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss:


And then there’s the performance pictured above: “the Piano Concerto in A,” by Tchaikovsky, at Royal Albert Hall– a run to which thousands of tickets were sold:


The best of the worst: The Portsmouth Sinfonia.

* William Congreve, The Mourning Bride (often misquoted as “music hath charms to soothe the savage beast”).  The same play gave us “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” often misquoted as “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”


As we embrace enthusiasm, we might send more melodic birthday greetings to Constant Lambert; he was born on this date in 1905.  A composer, conductor, and author, he was the founding Music Director of the Royal Ballet, and (alongside Ninette de Valois and Frederick Ashton) he was a major figure in the establishment of the English ballet as a significant artistic movement.

Lambert is also remembered as the inspiration and model for the character Hugh Moreland in his close friend Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time (especially in the fifth volume, Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant, in which Moreland is a central character).  Lambert’s son, Kit Lambert, was one of the managers of The Who.


Christopher Wood‘s portrait of Lambert (1926)



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