A matter of Royal bad taste

A matter of Royal bad taste


norman lebrecht

May 12, 2011

Prince Charles and I do not share the same tastes in music. He likes the old pomp and circumstance with a special preference for Hubert Parry, whom he is gifting to the nation in a forthcoming TV documentary on May 27.

I like to start the day with a dissonance and a 12-note row, saving the big tunes for funerals and barmitzvahs.

It’s a respectable difference of opinion, and one that we’ll never reconcile. I was arguing it out only last night at the Hatchards author’s party with Ian Skelly, co-author of his book on Harmony.

Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World

Still, I do admire Prince Charles for taking the high ground in matters musical and never stooping to curry favour with the music business, which would not know an ethical principle from a tub of lard. He keeps it serious and clean. He has even conducted an orchestra for his wife’s birthday.

Why, then, is his dearly beloved Duchess sailing out tonight to grace the Classic Brits? (announcement here)

The dumb-down show is a caricature of musical endeavour, a glam-fest for artists who can’t quite make the commercial big time and shelter instead under a leaking classical umbrella. Why is the Duchess of Cornwall giving royal cred to this sad crew? Is she secretly a fan of Il Divo? Does her husband know?

Her presence there can only undermine the good work he does.


  • Larry Elliott says:

    I guess the Dumbed Down Glam Fest needs all the help it can get… Next year they may be able to announce it as the Royal Dumbed down glam fest… Stranger things have happened. I really enjoy your posts!

  • Perhaps Prince Charles’ liking for Hubert Parry was the reason why so much of his music was featured at the recent Royal wedding. My musical taste is more in line with Prince Charles’ than yours, but I certainly share your opinion of the Classic Brits and the wishy-washy artistes who are featured there.

  • I’ve never read such graceful humor in any music criticism but for in the one from Corno di Bassetto.

  • His choice is totally in keeping with the occasion, which is the height of good taste. Webern would have been horrible. One thing he does not get credit for is his very good taste. Perhaps he listens to 12-tone music on occasion, I wouldn’t. And he recreated the position of Royal Harpist, so how can you really criticize him?

  • Bill Berger says:

    Someone please explain how Il Divo is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Classic Brits? I was under the impression five years does not make a lifetime – bizarre.