Sunday, 9 September 2012

An Elizabethan Summer

For many of us, the Olympic closing ceremony was held last night at the Royal Albert Hall. My first televised Proms was Malcolm Sargent's final valedictory appearance in 1967, and last night still owes much to Sargent's remodelling of the Proms. So we had the sea shanties, 'Britannia', Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem as usual leavened with displays of crowd enjoyment and banter that must have been familiar to the first Elizabethans at the Globe and the Rose. And everyone knew the words.

What a sad little thing is the 'Ode to Joy' when placed alongside the last night repertoire. And no-one knows the words, which are more suited to the squeak of the parish organ and the Sunday service than popular celebration. You can't goose-step to the music of Vaughan Williams, or Butterworth, or William Walton. Peter Ackroyd wrote 'If that Englishness in music can be encapsulated in words at all, those words would probably be: ostensibly familiar and commonplace, yet deep and mystical as well as lyrical, melodic, melancholic, and nostalgic yet timeless.' The best work of Vaughan Williams and his colleagues has no words, but those sung on the last night serve as some sort of proxy.

And now when the last of the priapic IOC members is swept back to LHR in his BMW limo and the last Lithuanian tart packs her bags for a winter in Tallinn, when the last inflatable nurse and orange HIV costume has been removed from the stadium we can get back to finishing-off Jubilee year. Oh, and I offer, in the spirit of the paralibrettos, that master of paralibrettics Michael Flanders, with Donald Swann of course;

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

No mention of that famous 'son of Lowestoft'?

Autumn, always puts me in mind of this piece and is so redolent of the English littoral.

Do you not think so?

right_writes said...

Yeah Readwald...

There is a rumour that "Bill" Blake was a cock-a-nee along with Keatsy...

And that his pome (what he wrote for the proms) is actually better read or sung in the local patois.

As for the 9th, I used to like it, I liked it even after Anthony Burgess had used it against his villain...

...It's quite an amusing joke (don't you think?) that it is now used to similar effect (for many) by the EU fantasists/fascists.

Ian Hills said...

Lovely Flanders and Swan recording! Pity that Michael's daughter is the leftist BBC journalist, Stephanie Flanders. Still, it isn't his fault.

right_writes said...

I didn't recognise her without the beard.

DeeDee99 said...

I didn't watch the Last Night - but I do hope Butterworth's Banks of Green Willow was played. It is the loveliest piece - absolutely beautiful.

I'm surprised the BBC can bring itself to broadcast the Lat Night .... what with all that patriotism, Union Jacks and pride in our History. It must almost induce heart attacks in the EU-adoring employees of the Brussels Broadcasting Corp.

Anonymous said...

Just seen on the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation website that the Ark Royal has been sold off for a paltry £3m scrap value. So much for the sea shanties, Britannia etc...

anon 2 said...

Thanks for the lovely Flanders and Swann, Raedwald! It's way better that whatever the Last Night's devolved into. (Though it's still better than the uncultured medley elsewhere).

I think the Brussels BC must content themselves because they actually present a foreign conductor, and hardly an English name among the musicians (not that I'm knocking the Maltese; can he ever sing!).
Then brussels will surely approve of all those foreign flags among ours. And I bet most of ours weren't "made in England" either. As for knowing the words...

Anyway, do the young audiences even know what "tuppence" is, any more? Would they even recognise the Britannia on a proper penny?As for understanding the sentiments behind 'fair play'-

Anonymous said...

According to the Sunday Times - this Michael Flanders - is sumfink to do with the BBC's ultra EU/Trotskeite apologist Mz. Steph' Flanders.

Gareth Lewis said...

God only knows why a Lithuanian girl went to Tallinn, not Vilnius.

anon 2 said...

btw, Anonymous... your 'son of Lowestoft' came on retreat to my RC school when I was little. One day, he played the piano for us children... and some Chopin at my request.

One never forgets such blessings; and yes, your picture and music are lovely.

Raedwald said...

Anon 9.07
I'll second that; just listening as dawn rises over London but of course at home the Sun comes up over the sea horizon - something I miss terribly in London

G. Tingey said...

That's right fuckwits, sneer and be gratuitously nasty to the BBC even when it does cover ALL the Promenade concerts.
Prannocks.

Back to the subject - well, Raedwald, somewhere in that same audience in 1967, was my self, also realising, that we would never see "Flash Harry" again.

Did any of the rest of you realise that another F&S song ... "The Slow Train" has become an international concert classic, and is now sung at "lieder" recitals across the world?
AND as broadcast by the aforemetioned BBC - where I've heard it more than once.

right_writes said...

"...sneer and be gratuitously nasty to the BBC even when it does cover ALL the Promenade concerts."

Well they would wouldn't they?

They are commissioned by the BBC after all.

G. Tingey said...

The BBC took over the "proms" when no-one else would do it.

Worked out all right.