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26 May - 12:59 pm NZ
Sundays at noon, and repeated on Fridays at 7pm
Audio will be posted after broadcast.
Sir Thomas Beecham has been described as the father of British orchestral music for his role in founding many British orchestras, several of them still performing today: from the Philharmonia to the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. Beecham was instrumental in transforming London's orchestral institutions from scrappy freelance bands to ensembles which could share the stage with the greatest orchestras around the world.
He championed the music of Mozart and Haydn, as well as Frederick Delius while disdaining other modern composers such as Sir Edward Elgar. During the Second World War, he moved to the United States, and despite his public criticisms of America, his concerts were immensely popular, and he forged relationships with recording orchestras such as the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and the RCA Victor Orchestra.
He died in 1961 but he lives on through his recordings and the anecdotes he inspired. A famous wit, many of Beecham’s quips about music are still quoted today.
1. “Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.”
2. Of J.S. Bach, he said: “Too much counterpoint; what is worse, Protestant counterpoint.”
3. After war was declared in 1939, he decamped for America. When asked by a reporter to explain his decision he said “the government has declared a state of emergency, so I immediately emerged.”
4. Of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, he said: “What can you do with it? It's like a lot of yaks jumping about.”
5. Beecham said the sound of the harpsichord was “like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof.”
1. DELIUS: La Calinda from Koanga - London Phil Orch/Beecham (The Beecham Collection Beecham 3)
2. HAYDN: Symphony No 101 in D major, Clock - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (Classics for Pleasure CPF 4530)
3. GRIEG: Dawn from Peer Gynt - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (EMI CDM 69039)
4. WAGNER: Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (Sony SMK 89889)
5. BIZET: Overture to Carmen - French National Radio Orch/Beecham (EMI CDS 7 49240)
6. DELIUS: Walk to the Paradise Garden from A Village Romeo and Juliet - London Phil Orch/Beecham (The Beecham Collection Beecham 3)
7. MOZART: Symphony No 39, Prague - London Phil Orch /Beecham (EMI CHS 7 63698)
8. ELGAR: Cockaigne Overture - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (Sony SMK 89405)
9. BALAKIREV: Tamara - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (EMI CDM 7 63375)
10. BERLIOZ: Carnival Romain - London Phil Orch /Beecham (EMI CDM 7 64032)
11. MOZART: Ach, ich fühl’s from the Magic Flute - Berlin Philh/Beecham (Dutton EA 5011)
12. TCHAIKOVSKY: Capriccio Italien - Columbia Symphony/ Beecham (Sony MH2K 63366)
13. DELIUS: Animato from Mass of Life- Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (Sony SM2K 89432)
14. MENDELSSOHN: The Fair Melusina Overture - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (Dutton 2CDEA 5026)
15. DELIUS: Prelude to Irmelin - Royal Phil Orch/Beecham (EMI 47509)
16. BIZET: Serenade from the Fair Made of Perth - London Phil Orch/Beecham (Dutton CDLX 7002)
17 PUCCINI: Che gelia manina from La Bohème - RCA Victor Orch/Beecham (EMI CDS 7 47235)
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