It’s Haydn (not Orpheus) in the London Underground

It’s Haydn (not Orpheus) in the London Underground


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2014

Cellist Richard Harwoodand a group of friends have burrowed into the depths of the London Underground to raise money for music education for underprivileged children. That’s pretty much everyone in Britain if the Conservative government gets re-elected.

If you see Richard and pals, do give generously to Musequality.

Ambient distractions aside, it’s a fine performance.


  • Anne says:

    If you must include party political comments, at least make some sense and avoid simplistic throw away remarks.

    We don’t have a Conservative government now, we have a coalition.

    UK national debt stands at £1.3 trillion, much of it created under the last government. Debt interest (ie money down the toilet) costs us in the region of £1 billion per week. That’s about half the cost of the NHS.

    • Emmanuel says:

      The same goes for throw-away comments about debt and how pressing it is. They too must make sense, right, and I think yours don’t. Like many non-economists, you think of national debt as a restaurant bill. Try to think of it as a mortgage instead. The size of the debt doesn’t matter; what matters is its affordability given the rate of growth in the national economy. Effectively, you only need to look at interest on the debt vs the growth rate, and the interest rate the UK government pays has been next to nothing during the last decade or so. Oh, and after 11 years in power, Labour had the debt/GDP ratio at 38% in 2007, the lowest it had ever been since the 30s. I know the Telegraph, Mail-and-friends readership are used to a different story, in which Labour ruins the country and the Tories save it (pain is good for you, especially other people’s pain), but it doesn’t hurt to check some facts.

      • Joshaw says:

        Maybe, maybe not. However, I think there’s a big difference between inserting throwaway political remarks in a music blog such as this, and doing the same in a political or economics blog. I doubt if people who come here claim to be experts. Throwaway musical remarks in an economics blog would be equally inappropriate IMO.

        I don’t claim to be an expert either but I note that both main political parties seem to have accepted the need to reduce spending. Why?

        • Emmanuel says:

          As for what is appropriate given the subject-matter of this or any blog, I think we can afford to be reasonably liberal. It won’t have escaped you that, very often, the arguments exchanged are basically moral and political arguments that wouldn’t be out of place in many different contexts (e.g. gender discrimination; the value of a pursuit vs the market assessment of that value etc). That said, I agree with your general thrust; I just couldn’t resist pushing against another iteration of what supposedly ‘everyone knows’.

          As for why both parties are running on a pledge to cut spending, the answer seems to me to be that the Tories have effectively won the war of shaping public opinion on the issue. Wrong as this may be, most people do believe that the state is like a household: when the economy is down, you tighten up. That’s also the reason why people fear inflation a lot more than low growth or unemployment. What can you do…

  • Anon says:

    “That’s pretty much everyone in Britain if the Conservative government gets re-elected.”

    What a bizarre sweeping statement. The only alternative is a Labour government staffed by the same politicians who overspent so heavily for years like drunk sailors on shore leave, such that not only is the UK heavily in debt, it is also still spending way beyond its means year in, year out. The more they overspend, the harder the inevitable correction later on, which would mean serious cuts everywhere.

    The current Conservative administration hasn’t really made significant cuts despite the rhetoric; total government spending is much the same. I’ve seen no indications from a potential incoming Labour administration that they would fund the arts any better (and hence apply cuts somewhere else), and there’s plenty of indication that they are not economically competent. Like it or not, the Conservative government is overseeing one of the fastest economic recoveries in the G8, and a solid growth in employment; it’s a good start, and this sort of sweeping generalisation fails to acknowledge either the bigger picture or the likely alternatives.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      They are making huge cuts in music education and planning more. Talk to Gove.

      • Anon says:

        I don’t deny it. My point is that Government spending has not really decreased very far (merely the rate of increase of government spending has slowed). This is Indian Bicycle Marketing – the Conservatives want you to believe they are cutting spending, because for their supporter base this is a good thing. Labour want you to believe that the Conservatives are cutting spending, because for their supporter base this is a bad thing. The reality is that there is very little change in spending, but it suits all major political parties to claim that there is.

        Cuts in music education are a case of general spending being re-distributed. We may think this is a bad thing, and we should stand up against it – but we have to do so in the knowledge that the country as a whole is still spending beyond its means, and pennies extra we want spent now are pounds our grandchildren will be repaying. If you want music education funding higher, then you need to be prepared to sacrifice spending elsewhere.

        As far as party politics goes, I see absolutely no evidence or even promises that suggest a Labour-led administration would be any better for the arts. Absent any direct promises for music education from an opposition, the best we can conclude is that the current Conservative-led administration is doing a better job to pull the UK through an economic downturn than other countries are experiencing, and acknowledge that putting an economy back on track is the best way to then find a secure base from which funding for our desired projects can eventually be elicited.

      • Anne says:

        Although it pains me to admit it, a country which ranks 20-something in English, Maths and Science has more pressing concerns.

  • Una says:

    On a more down to earth note, what Underground station was the Haydn played in?