May 24, 2007

I keep a stiff upper lip and I shoot from the hip

I'm running all over town today, but here's some stories from the UK to keep you entertained.

Sympathy for Charlotte Harding, an 18-year-old from Yorkshire who traveled to the University of St. Andrews to hear their symphony give the premiere of her new saxophone concerto, only to have it drowned out by a nearby party.
The noise pollution came from an event run by the Lumsden Club, an "elite ladies" society that prides itself on social and charity parties, which was staging a noisy fund-raiser nearby.... "It was all right when the orchestra played loudly but, during the quieter bits of music, you couldn't hear anything but the disco," said [Harding's mother].
The club's website states: "We host fun social and charity events throughout the university calendar and make a difference within the community." The poster for a coming Top Gun Night features a sexy photo of Tom Cruise and the dress code is "Take My Breath Away".
So the performance was disrupted by a prom that came through a wormhole from the year 1987? I never want to hear classical music described as outdated and living in the past again.

In other news, a longtime friend of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who happens to be married to Maxwell Davies' manager, has been arrested for allegedly embezzling 500,000 pounds from the Master of the Queen's Music.
Michael Arnold, 73, husband of Judy Arnold, the composer’s manager for 32 years, was taken to Notting Hill Police Station for questioning about money allegedly missing from Sir Peter’s business account.... The Arnolds are close friends and he has in the past dedicated compositions to them. His music is even catalogued in what he calls J Numbers, named after Judy Arnold. Mr Arnold is said to look after his financial affairs.
This is playing Covent Garden within five years, I guarantee it. (It's all over the UK papers, but I've linked to the Times report on the strength of its first reader comment.)

The other big story over there involves photos of Hitler taken at the 1939 Bayreuth Festival by Charles Turner, a composer who was also working for British intelligence.
It is believed that Mr Turner was one of the last Britons to speak face to face with the Nazi dictator before the outbreak of the conflict. The record of what words passed between the two men is locked away in the vaults of MI5, deemed too sensitive to be declassified. The Home Office has said the document may never be made public.

The German-speaking Turner, from Nottinghamshire, had been granted unprecedented access to the Führer and his entourage, which included Joseph Goebbels and Rudolf Hess. The photographer was hosted by the chairman of the Bayreuth chamber of commerce, who was a member of Hitler's inner circle - as was British-born Winifred Wagner, the composer's widow.
The photos were released to the public by Turner's son, who also remembers driving around Moscow with his father, looking for Kim Philby's apartment. I can't find a whit of information on Turner, which means he must have been pretty good at his day job. (Anybody know any of his music?)

And finally, this. Note: playing "Memory" in the background while you read it really enhances the effect.

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