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At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Saturday, 29 August 2020

The First Night of the Proms.

Yesterday morning I posted my application for a TV licence with the usual feelings of reluctance when parting with money, and at £157 that is a meaningful amount for me. But, there are from time to time programmes on BBC that make that worthwhile, so the disinclination to savage my bank balance was slightly softened.

Last night we had the first of the new "live" performances of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

A first time performance for a British composer left me unmoved - it was short and seemed to go nowhere except that it was pleasantly haunting in places. Novelty was introduced by a few notes on a mouth-organ, and very strangely somebody holding aloft in wavering hands a sort of musical box about the size of  a bag of sugar and twiddling a handle to allow music on a punch tape to scroll through and play some tinkling notes which didn't seem to have any connection with the rest of the piece.

Aaron Copland's Quiet City followed. A wonderfully evocative piece featuring immaculate trumpet playing. The performance was enhanced by cleverly edited camera work depicting empty city street scenes which was a brave thing to do snd would have been a disaster if not well handled.

The main event was Beethoven's Eroica symphony. The Finnish conductor, Sakari Oramo was at the helm. He was a delight to watch with facial expressions expressing his enjoyment, delight, and deep feelings. The orchestra was socially distanced so he seemed to be able to pinpoint individuals with a different kind of precision.

But, the most striking feature for me was the demeanour, without exception of all the members of the orchestra. They were all, again I say without exception, glum, tight lipped and otherwise expressionless. I thought they must have just arrived from a meeting where they had miserably failed to negotiate a pay rise.

For me any Beethoven is delight. I have no technical musical knowledge to make a meaningful assessment of this particular performance except to say that I did enjoy the music

This was all a bit strange held in the eerily empty Royal Albert Hall with brief commentary from Stephen Fry and Katie Derham which only served to give factual background to the selections on top of fairly meaningless adulatory observations. 


  1. Just made my payment too. As you know I watch the TV less than you.
    But I suppose I do use catch up and listen to the radio a lot.

  2. BC. - You'll be sble to wstch Eastenders and Emmerdle Farm with a clear coscience now.

  3. With how little we have watched the sort of TV for which one needs a licence over the last few months, I still keep questioning whether we should cancel our licence. The only thing currently pointing towards keeping it is the BBC's sports coverage. I do wish the BBC would become a subscription channel, like most of the on-demand market is now, so that we could pick and choose which months it was worth buying access.

  4. Gayle - Something needs to change but I reckon funding is the root problem. The repeats are getting beyond a joke.

  5. You want to be careful when issuing such criticism as "meaningless adulatory observations". The cliché involving pots and kettles is often waiting round the next corner, especially when you admit later that you lack the ability to be meaningful. Also it suggests you are being paid by the syllable.

    On a personal note I wonder whether repeating significant words in close proximity may be a side-effect of old age. It's happening much more with me and because it seems to be an "unconscious" fault I sometimes miss it on the re-read

    Does music have to go anywhere? Be prepared to go nowhere with Debussy. In fact music that only goes somewhere and does nothing else (eg, Ravel's Bolero) may be similarly defective.

    Thanks for reminding me about paying my TV Licence. I wonder if I might get a discount if I promise not to watch programmes on which Kate Humble appears.

    One person who agrees with Gayle's preference is Rupert Murdoch, along with the whole of the Tory party. Anything to destroy the BBC. I'd pay the fee for BBC4 alone: science, history, music, maths, philosophy, astronomy - the education I should have received at BGS. Your chuntering about repeats seems to pass me by; old age brings forgetfulness, thus legitimising seeing things a second time.