Beecham: In no occupation are there so many prigs as there are in music

Terry Teachout has dug out this wonderful Peter Brook conversation with Sir Thomas.

Watch at 08.30

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  • “Although a musician with an international reputation, he was born and raised in St Helen’s”. Ha! Awful old-fashioned prejudice.

    I’m somewhat ambivalent about Beecham, who sounds like something of a bully to his players. But he got things done and had broad musical interests. He did, however, create rather too many orchestras, and we’re having to deal with that legacy to this day!

      • I played a concert a few years ago in an orchestra which was put together much like Beecham did it, conductor casting a net for the best players he could wrangle. It was great — except he didn’t possess Beecham’s fortune, and folded the group after one concert. I cheered him up by pointing out that if he divided the sum he was out of pocket by the number of hours he had spent on the project, the hourly cost wasn’t too unreasonable!

        During the rehearsals, one of the players commented to me that she was having a great time, the group was really fine, but she couldn’t understand how he was going to make it an ongoing proposition — so she was taking care to enjoy every minute!

  • He was a silly old fart… but in the rehearsal, he just let the RPO play the music, how refreshing! Most of the modern conductors, as he says, wouldn’t be able to resist stopping after 10 bars and instructing the triangle-player how to play his instrument 🙂

    I loved Brooks’ nervous giggle after the ‘psychiatrist’ comment at c.15’20… his brother was one.

  • I like his comments on rehearsal technique. Quite a bit of the rest comes off as Old Man Yelling at Clouds alternating with telling kids to get off his lawn.

  • No time to watch the interview now, but I agree with the quote in the headline — or rather, if it’s true, then I’m glad to find out that other professions have fewer of them.

  • I read the autobiography of Beecham decades ago; I cannot remember whether he could actually play a musical instrument.

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