BBC betrays the Proms, again

BBC betrays the Proms, again


norman lebrecht

November 05, 2015

It has been announced that Melbourne will host ‘the exclusive Australian season’ of the BBC Proms, over four days in April 2016.

The Proms are a unique British and BBC institution, taking place over seven weeks in London every summer and broadcast free the world over.

To sell a spin-off Proms to Australia not only dilutes the brand. It opens the floodgates to any number of cheap imitations and depletes a core national asset, which is owned and paid for by the British people.

Last summer, under new management, the BBC dumbed down the Proms as never before. We warned that there was worse to come.

Here we go, here we go, here we go.

bbc proms plastic trumpets


  • Daphne Badger says:

    But Australia is still part of the British Empire, no?

    • Bennie says:

      What British Empire?


    • David says:

      I expect there will be some cries of protest from “down under”. The 1931 Statute of Westminster, ratified by the former Dominion of Australia in 1942 brought Australia into the British Commonwealth (now, simply, The Commonwealth). A fundamental element of The Commonwealth is an agreement that its members are “equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.”

  • Alvaro says:

    No Norman, believe me, the world will imitate many many things – like American Idol – but at large could not give a rats @€;) abt the proms.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Last Night Of The Poms

  • V.Lind says:

    “I hope this taster of what the BBC Proms is about – bringing great classical music to the widest audience – will be a great musical adventure, with four days of spectacular music-making led by a great friend of the Proms, Sir Andrew Davis.”

    This seems, in principle, to be a good way to widen the audience for classical music. As such, in and of itself it does not seem to me to dilute the real Proms — they are doing that without leaving the country.

    On the other hand, I am not very charmed by the “contradiction for beatbox and orchestra,” though the Aussies maybe punished for it by the playing of Rule Britannia.

    My position on balance is wait and see.

  • Vovka Ashkenazy says:

    Back in the 1980s Melbourne had the ROMPS (not a joke)!

  • Peter Freeman says:

    With respect, the last Proms season was not “under new management” but was planned by the previous incumbent who resigned at short notice. The interim post holder was in a caretaker position.

    One wonders what percentage of the Australian population is at all aware of classical music, and of that number, what percentage has ever attended a classical concert, and of that number, how many can afford a trip to London to attend the Proms.

  • Marg says:

    It will not generate much interest in Aust outside of Melbourne. It’s a gimmick for both sides

  • Pusserl says:

    I am a Melbourne concert goer. Never heard of Romps and find your snobbery undeserved. Maybe the connections of the MSO’s chief conductor are significant.

  • Halldor says:

    The CBSO ran a Proms series annually in Birmingham from the 1950s through to the late 1980s, and it was far from alone in this. Hundreds of ‘Last Night of the Proms’ are still given annually by orchestras amateur and professional around the world. Promenade concerts aren’t the exclusive intellectual property of the BBC, and the idea that they’re an exclusive BBC ‘core asset’, cobfined to South Kensington, is unhealthier for classical music than any number of copycat concerts. Good that the BBC actually recognises this; an Aussie Proms with. BC support sounds a wholly positive development.

    • Una says:

      I’d say so too. Who are we to be so snobbish. I was in Australia in 1985 for the London Last Night of the Proms being relayed. Proms in the Park, as we know it now, was already set up in Sydney when I was there but no one ever said a word.

  • Dave says:

    Are you sure this isn’t the Pommies?

  • Dominic Stafford Uglow says:

    Bearing in mind that the founding principle of the Proms was to bring classical music to the widest possible audience at affordable prices, I would have though that this was very welcome.

    This is the problem with classical music at the moment. It is not a mechanism to be used to counter your intellectual insecurities and buttress you sense of superiority. It’s a communicative, democratic and uplifting art form.

    • V.Lind says:

      It’s not the problem with classical music; it’s the problem with some of its aficionados. There are some very narrow views around here.

      As for the above sneering comments on Australia and music, please bear in mind some of the classical talent that has emerged from there. Nobody English has ever been nicknamed “La Stupenda,” as far as I know. Prince Charles declared he wanted all English music at his first wedding, but he did not get his marquee soloist from England. And Australlian cities from Darwin to Hobart, Perth to Brisbane, Sydney to Adelaide, support symphony orchestras and opera companies. I hope Clive James in twilight never reads this blog. The imperialist attitude is disgusting.

      • RW2013 says:

        Sorry, what or who came after La Stupenda?

        • V.Lind says:

          If you mean who sang at the wedding, it was Kiri Te Kanawa.

          • RW2013 says:

            Since when has Kiri been Ostraaaahlyun?

          • V.Lind says:

            Sorry, my bad. I was thinking the word Kiwi even as I wrote her name.

            May I trade you Sir Charles (not for the wedding, but as an exemplar)? My point stands. The notion that Australia is not musical is risible, and based in the most arrant snobbery. I’m familiar enough with it — I live in Canada, a country that punches well above its weight musically when you look around at the number of stellar musicians it has floating the globe right now. I love England and the English but sometimes they are so bloody provincial.

          • RW2013 says:

            Just because the New Zealanders sometimes call Australia “the west island”….
            (ps. I think I know who you are).