Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Early Music Consort of London a Vicenza - 1974

A Treasury of Early Music

Thanks to Stefano Dal Cortivo for the above link

The following is in Italian as an English version is unavailable at present

Published on 12 Feb 2017
Musica alle corti d’Inghilterra dai Plantageneti agli Stuart.
Il programma, come dice il titolo, ha una sua precisa qualificazione. Si tratta di musiche fra il XII e il XVII secolo, eseguite in Inghilterra alle Corti di Riccardo I, Enrico V, Enrico VIII, Elisabetta I, Giacomo I e Carlo I. Ricorrono così, accanto ai nomi degli strumenti antichi - quali il liuto, la viola da gamba, la tromba medievale, il cromorno, la ribeca, la citola, la dulciana, il cembalo, ecc. - i nomi delle celebri dinastie inglesi quali Tudor, Stuart, Plantageneti e Lancaster.
E tra gli autori spiccano proprio alcuni Sovrani che scrissero musiche eseguite poi nelle feste a Corte. Infatti di Carlo I Stuart avremo l'aria «Guarda la purpurea aurora»; di Enrico VIII saranno eseguiti due brani: «Colui che implora la grazia» e «Passatempo in buona compagnia»; e ascolteremo persino un brano del famoso Riccardo Cuor di Leone intitolato «Ja nus hons pris».
(note dal programma di sala)

Questo fu il primo vero e proprio concerto dedicato in Vicenza alla musica del Medioevo e Rinascimento utilizzando gli strumenti tipici dell’epoca. Venne commissionato dalla Società del Quartetto di Vicenza, fu un evento non convenzionale per la città a quell’epoca, e si tenne all’Auditorium Canneti, gloriosa sala visitata da grandi artisti e oggi purtroppo non più utilizzata a causa delle norme sulla sicurezza, divenute più severe.

01 Applausi

02 Anonimo (XVI sec.) Fanfara
03 Applausi
04 Thomas Morley (1557-1603) Madrigale
05 Anonimo (XVI sec.) La malinconia della Regina Maria
06 Anonimo (XVI sec.) La Pavana della Regina d’Inghilterra
07 Edward Johnson (XVI-XVII sec.) «Elisabetta è la migliore delle regine»
08 Anthony Holborne (m. 1602) Gagliarda
09 William Byrd (1543-1623) Fantasia in quattro parti
10 / 12 William Byrd e Michel Praetorius Suite di danze
13 Applausi

14 / 15 Anonimo (XVII sec) Due arie scozzesi
16 Mason e Eardsen «Benvenuto, benvenuto re degli ospiti»
17 Richard Allison (XVI-XVII sec.) Pavana veloce
18 Richard Nicholson (1570-1639) La danza dell'ebreo
19 Carlo I (1600-1649) «Guarda la purpurea aurora»
20 Thomas Ford (1580-1648) «Non mi dimenticare»
21 Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656) Una malinconica pavana
22 Henry Purcell (1659-1695) «Sia benvenuto questo grande Re»
23 Applausi

24 Anonimo (1200) Fanfara
25 Bernard de Ventadorn (m. 1195) «Lancan vei la folha» (canzone)
26 Anonimo (1200) «Novus miles sequitur»
27 Blondel de Nesles (1150-1200) «L'amours donc sui en pris»
28 Anonimo (1189) «Redit aetas aurea»
29 Richard Coeur-de-Lion (1157-1199) «Ja nus hons pris»
30 Gaucelm Faidit (1185-1200) Lamento per il Re Riccardo I: «Fortz chauza es»
31 Applausi

32 Anonimo (XIII sec.) Danza inglese 
33 Anonimo (XIII sec.) «Ave Rex gentis Anglorum» (antifona)
34 Anonimo (1340) «Ave miles cœlestis curiæ» (mottetto)
35 Anonimo (1ª metà XV sec.) «Deo gracias Anglia» (carola)
36 Applausi

V. CASA DEI TUDOR (1:01:03)
37 Anonimo (1ª metà XVI sec.) La pavana di Re Enrico VIII
38 Enrico VIII (1491-1547) Colui che implora la grazia
39 / 40 Anonimo (1ª metà XVI sec.) Moresca e Gagliarda del Re
41 Robert Johnson (1490-1560) «Disonorato è il mio nome»
42 Anonimo (XVI sec.) Una gagliarda dal «Codice Mulliner»
43 Anonimo (XVI sec.) Pavana del Principe Edward
44 Enrico VIII (1491-1547) Passatempo in buona compagnia
45 Applausi

46 David Munrow annuncia il bis (1:15:57)
47 Anonimo (XIII sec.) Inno inglese per Cristo Salvatore
48 Applausi

diretto da DAVID MUNROW

JAMES BOWMAN………………..controtenore, viola da gamba tenore, tromba medievale
OLIVER BROOKES……………..…rauschpfeife, viola da gamba basso, cromorno, ribeca
JAMES TYLER……………………citola, liuto, viola da gamba tenore, cromorno, flauto a becco
CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD….….percussione, clavicembalo, arpa, cromorno
DAVID MUNROW……………..…..rauschpfeife, flauto a becco, dulciana, zampogna medievale, bombarda, flauto, gemshorn

Vicenza, auditorium F. Canneti, 8 febbraio 1974, ore 21,15.
  • Category

  • Licence

    • Standard YouTube Licence

Friday, 28 April 2017

The Semibrevity Article

Semibrevity is an important blog on the early pioneers of Early Music. See

Guest Blogger: Peter Dickinson is a composer, writer and pianist and an Emeritus Professor of two universities – Keele and London. See here for more details.
‘My wife and I first met David and Gill Munrow in Cambridge in about 1965. It was summer and we were all in the garden at 54 Bateman Street, the home of Mary Potts, whose late husband was L. J. Potts, the literary critic and English don at Queens’ College.
Mary Potts had a very special role in the early music revival which has not been acknowledged [other than in this Semibrevity blog post]. A mere mention of her more distinguished pupils, who included Christopher Hogwood, Colin Tilney and Peter Williams, is enough to indicate that she ought to be better known now. She knew harpsichordists of international reputation such as Gustav Leonhardt, Raphael Puyana and Kenneth Gilbert. Her own performances were on a more modest scale but she played in and around Cambridge for over fifty years. At May Week concerts she was especially busy taking her harpsichord round various colleges. She became a focus for early music activities long before David Munrow propelled these into a new public orbit through his recitals, lectures and broadcasts. Her influence could perhaps be seen as complementary to that of  Thurston Dart in the official Cambridge University Music Faculty.
Mary Potts was born in 1905 and studied at the Royal College of Music from 1923-28 as a pianist but also took harpsichord lessons with Arnold Dolmetsch and was a regular visitor to Haslemere for some years. When she married L. J. Potts she moved to Cambridge in 1930. Her own harpsichord was made in the eighteenth-century by the Swiss-Englishman Burkat Shudi (1702-73): it was bought from Dolmetsch, and some of the first rehearsals of Munrow’s Early Music Consort took place in her music room. She died in 1982 and will long be remembered for her generous and sympathetic encouragement of younger musicians.
Mary Potts was not just involved with the [music of the] past. She encouraged young composers too and I wrote my Variations on a French Folk Tune for her. (Recorded by Jane Chapman, a Potts pupil, on Heritage HTGCD 259)
She gave the first performance at the University Music Club in 1957 and also played the keyboard part in my Quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and harpsichord (now destroyed). This kind of activity makes a productive link with David Munrow who also believed that early music instruments were not just archaic survivals but needed new repertoire.

My next contact with Munrow was in connection with my chamber piece he had commissioned called Translations for recorder, gamba (Oliver Brookes) and harpsichord (Christopher Hogwood). The trio was known as the Early Music Consort of London and gave the premiere at the Purcell Room on 20 February 1971. At the time there were very few British works that used multi-phonics for the recorder so we worked out what was possible. I also worked with Oliver Brookes on the use of twentieth-century techniques applied to the viola da gamba. For early music players some of Translations was distinctly innovative – that was the reason for the title. Unfortunately they never recorded it. However, John Turner  later gave several performances with Oliver Brookes and Keith Elcombe.
Just over a year after Translations later David commissioned a solo piece – Recorder Music. At this period he was becoming widely known for one of the liveliest programmes broadcast on BBC Radio 3 – Pied Piper, which ran from 1971-76 with over 600 episodes.  In addition to all his concert work, lectures and teaching he researched and presented this weekly programme, putting not only himself but his skilled producer the late Arthur Johnson under enormous pressure. (See Peter Dickinson, Arthur Johnson, obituary, The Guardian, 11 December 2014)
Since Munrow went around recording interviews with people I thought it would be perfectly natural for him to come onto the stage, switch on his portable tape-recorder and proceed to perform alongside it. So that was the basis of Recorder Music. I again used a range of material, including multi-phonics, and incorporated my Air for solo flute (1959). (Recorded by Duke Dobing on Naxos 8.572287) I adapted this melody for an instrument David had brought back from his travels in Peru – a notch flute called the kena. Then, knowing what a startling impression this would give in a live performance, I included a march for David to play on two recorders at once – the garkleinflötlein and the sopranino. This comes back at the end but with the much larger tenor and bass recorders together – even more of a mouthful. The live performer is without tape for a central cadenza, which is alarmingly difficult. David arrived at our house one day saying that he’d been practising it for nine hours.
He gave the first performance of Recorder Music on 8 February 1973 at the Wigmore Hall. However, it seemed more satisfactory to have good quality tape-playback rather than a portable machine and this made the whole business inconvenient and expensive. The best medium for this kind of piece is a recording or a broadcast and so David recorded Recorder Music for EMI and it came out in 1975 at the end of his two-LP survey called The Art of the Recorder. (EMI SLS 5022; now on CD with Testament SBT2-1368) I wrote a memorial tribute for a BBC concert in Manchester on 7 May 1977, at which Munrow was to have played Recorder Music. A Memory of David Munrow is for two counter-tenors, two recorders, gamba and harpsichord, using only material from the two pieces I wrote for him.
My last professional connection with David was the strangest of all. He was involved with music for a science-fiction film written, produced and directed by John Boorman – Zardoz (1974), which became famous for the role played by Sean Connery, and still goes the rounds. (On DVD Twentieth-Century Fox, F1-SGB 01208DVD (1974) The name comes from The Wizard of Oz and the film is set in the year 2293.
Apart from the Allegretto of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in various arrangements, David must have provided choral textures with tone-clusters as anguished support for some scenes of conflict. One day David telephoned me and the conversation ran something like this:
‘We’re doing this music for Zardoz and John Boorman is a bit short of some spectacular sounds for a chariot swooping down from outer space. I said that you could improvise this if he booked a big organ in a city church. It’s fixed for tomorrow morning – can you come?’
Luckily I could and when I got to St Andrews, Holborn, on 19 October 1973, Boorman was there with all the technical people set up to record the organ. He told me what was going on in the film – he needed music for the space-ship and associated supernatural elements. We tried various things out. When he liked what I played it was recorded – all in a morning. It seemed to be the easiest way to do film music – and the easiest money too.
The last time I spoke to David was on the telephone in 1976. It was in my second year at Keele University, where I had started the Music Department as the first Professor. David said he was concerned to find – most unusually – a two-week gap in the concert schedule for the Early Music Consort in the coming year and wondered if I could help. I can’t now remember what I said, but I’m sure I was encouraging; it was May and I spoke to him looking out over the apple trees in blossom in our garden in Keele village. Two weeks later he was dead and I heard the shocked voice of Christopher Hogwood in a BBC Radio 3 tribute – but what a truly astonishing legacy from such a short, high-voltage career.
This is an edited extract from Peter Dickinson: Words and Music, which was published in 2016 by Boydell & Brewer.
Copyright © 2017 Peter Dickinson – All Rights Reserved
Also of interest:
David Munrow (of the Early Music Consort) and Folk Music
The forgotten harpsichord teacher of Christopher Hogwood & Colin Tilney
Farewell to Christopher Hogwood (1941–2014), harpsichordist, conductor and early music pioneer
The Early Music Legend: a blog devoted to David Munrow (My blog gets a mention here from the original article on Semibrevity
David Munrow website, with a forum

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

From the archive: David Munrow profile - 'not even Mick Jagger has such versatile lips'

A Treasury of Early Music

9 March 1971/ The Guardian.     Meirion Bowen on the scholar, virtuosic musician and crumhorn whizzkid at the forefront of the period-instrument movement, who died tragically young 40 years ago

David Munrow, May 1968.           

David Munrow, May 1968. Photograph: Tony McGrath for the Observer

I recall first seeing David Munrow at a vicarage tea-party in Cambridge in 1962. He was playing the bassoon. The occasion was not without moments of stress, for Munrow’s fellow-musicians kept turning over two pages at once, or got confused over repeats in a Telemann sonata. Munrow puffed on undaunted. He revealed, rather, a wicked relish for some of the unexpectedly jarring discords that cropped up. It was hard to keep a straight face. If anyone had prophesied then that he would have future concert audiences doubled up in their seats with laughter, we should have concurred wholeheartedly. For Munrow’s abundant sense of comedy has always complemented his flair as an interpreter of music of the Bach epoch and before

There has been no lack of early music specialists in this century, ranging from the Dolmetsch family to Noah Greenberg and the New York Pro Musica. Munrow seems to me to possess most of the scholarly virtues, but in addition, a concern and ability to communicate similar to that shown by Thurston Dart in his concerts of baroque music given during the fifties. Few musicians are better equipped than Munrow to demonstrate that the crumhorns and shawms of medieval and Renaissance music are fit to he appreciated not merely by antiquarians but by the public at large, from the humblest

For a start, Munrow is a staggering performer on early woodwind instruments of all sizes and descriptions. When I first visited him in Stratford a few years back, his collection numbered over 150 instruments, and it has grown since then. Moreover he plays them all.

Virtuoso is an unfortunate and overworked epithet which Munrow would hate to have applied to him. And it’s true that a keen ear can spot occasional flaws in his articulation or phrasing, especially since his improvised decoration of fast music is sometimes far too ambitious – it can obscure the sense of the melodic line. But when all’s said and done, how else could one indicate the wizardry with which he will change from shawm to dulcian to cornamuse to gemshorn to rauschpfeife to recorder to crumhorn to kortholt . . . (need I say et cetera) ... launching off immediately in each case with little or no preparation. Not even Mick Jagger can have such versatile lips.

You have only to attend one of the hundreds of lecture-recitals on early woodwind instruments which Munrow gives up and down the country, and abroad, every year to realise how much his playing has caused such instruments to be taken seriously – to be thought of not merely as musical fossils, but as a range of sonorities that hold unlimited delights for the listener, and which today’s composers can find an invaluable stimulus. If you can’t get to one of his lecture recitals, then his exciting new demonstration disc, The Medieval Sound on the Oryx label, will serve the purpose: though seeing him play these colourful instruments inevitably adds further dimension.

Munrow was not born with a sopranino rauschpfeife in his mouth. But his musical aspirations did develop early on. He took piano lessons from the age of six and (more important) sang in Birmingham Cathedral Choir, an experience that opened vistas on to music for him. When his voice broke he sought refuge in playing the recorder and bassoon, though school (King Edward VI Birmingham) provided little incentive to pursue a musical career. His first contact with the world of medieval instruments came on leaving school to spend a year teaching in South America. There he came across many of the instruments associated with medieval music in a context where they were still the staple diet of music, were still played with a total lack of inhibition, with a careeningly free sense of improvisation.

Some of Munrow’s many wind-instruments date back to this South American trip. Others have been acquired elsewhere in the course of his travels – from tiny villages in Europe to hippie shops in California. Most of his collection consists of modern reconstructions based on pictures or other information. (The makers are largely German – like Otto Steinkopf, Rainer, Weber. etc. – but there are now some English ones springing up, like Jim Jones.) The freshness and spontaneity of Munrow’s playing, however, are undoubtedly to some extent a product of hearing such instruments within folk-cultures where the most ancient musical practices survive to this day. Medieval music has never for him been a dead art exhumed by scholars. It is alive and well and flourishing all over the world.

Returned from South America, Munrow went to Cambridge, where he sang in Jesus College choir, and met Thurston Dart. Dart encouraged him to exploit to the full his potential as a specialist on early woodwind instruments. Munrow did so, primarily playing with his friends, those with whom it was sheer enjoyment to make music. This is an important aspect of Munrow’s approach, something on which his later achievements have depended considerably. His Early Music Consort, formed in 1967, developed out of such friendly music-making with Christopher Hogwood (harpsichord), Oliver Brookes (viol), and James Bowman (counter-tenor), and is a remarkably integrated and polished ensemble. In no time, the Consort was reckoned a front-rank group.

The Consort’s success does not depend entirely on brilliant performances. Its programmes are planned to run with perfect smoothness, with a precise awareness of what the audience needs to know or hear at any given moment. Introductions – either spoken or included in the programme – are invariably informative, witty, and often deliciously obscene as well. What people don’t generally realise is that the very idea of giving a concert of early music is unauthentic, a falsification of what originally happened. To present, therefore, a recital of four centuries’ dance music, as Munrow did a few weeks back, becomes a creative act in itself (as my colleague. Hugo Cole, so rightly pointed out).
Munrow has enlarged the Consort considerably for his Renaissance Festival programme, and his ideas have come off equally well on the larger canvas. For many people, Munrow’s name will always be associated with performances of a set of dances by Tielman Susato (a 16th-century composer who flourished as player, publisher, and composer at Antwerp. and who had a shop with the sign “In de Kroomhoorn”) that have often ended his Festival programmes. He first mounted performances of these dances at Cambridge and at Birmingham University (where he spent a year researching after finishing at Cambridge): the concluding battle-piece has always won him an ovation ­not just for its extra decibels, but because each time he scores it differently, preserving its raw freshness and potency. It is good news that he has just recorded these dances for EMI.

For some time he was a member of the Stratford Wind Ensemble and his contributions to drama productions extended into radio, television, and films. David Cain wrote music for him to play for the BBC radio serial of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. More recently television viewers will have heard the music he provided for The Six Wives of Henry VIII series and in the sequel. Elizabeth R, as well as at the V and A Exhibition. He is becoming difficult to dodge, likely to crop up as the indispensable background to some display or exhibition or in collaboration with a folk group.

Anyone who tries to pin down Munrow to any one category of work is doomed to failure. He is not just the crumhorn whizzkid. (Mind you, more ponderous medievalists underestimate his scholarship.) His skill as a deviser of recital programmes has stood him in good stead recently on the radio, when he introduced a series of Afternoon Sequences – two hours of records for Saturday afternoons on Radio 3. He is always on the move. His wife. Gillian, does all the planning of transport, food, and accommodation.
She also plays percussion and bells in their lecture-recitals: and the whole operation makes great demands on her energy and patience. Without such support Munrow would probably not have become so prominent and colourful a figure on the concert scene by the age of 28. And it’s a good thing he’s a small chap. otherwise there’d be no room in the car for him along with all those coffin-like cases containing racketts, crumhorns, recorders. shawms, clans, rauschpfeifes, kortholts, gemshorn....

Peter Maxwell Davis (left) with Munrow, August 1974. Photograph: Peter Johns for the Guardian

 David Munrow, May 1968.
David Munrow, May 1968. Photograph: Tony McGrath for the Observer

 Peter Maxwell Davis (left) & David Munrow, August 1974.

Peter Maxwell Davis (left) with Munrow, August 1974. Photograph: Peter Johns for the

The Guardian, 9 March 1971.




The Guardian, 9 March 1971.

The tragic story of the man who inspired millions to love music

As Radio 3 re-run episodes of their landmark 1970s music series for children, Pied Piper, we remember its presenter - early music specialist David Munrow
What's the best way to inspire children to take an interest in music, and is there any value in doing so? If there is, what kind of music is best?
Those kinds of questions have dogged parents and scientists for decades, each new study providing different answers. Does listening to Mozart really boost your brainpower? asked BBC Future in 2013 in response to a widely misunderstood report from 1993, which didn't actually declare that there was a "Mozart effect" - the idea that infants will become cleverer if they're exposed to classical music. In fact, just about any kind of music is good for children of all ages to listen to, and a much broader 2006 study suggested pop (Blur!) was just as effective as Mozart.
If you liked music when you were a kid, you already know that it benefitted you. The conundrum is how to interest children in music, and for that there a multitude of initiatives around for parents to investigate, including the BBC's Ten Pieces.
Back in the 1970s, before mass media, life was simpler. One man was given a show on Radio 3 called Pied Piper: Tales and Music for Younger Listeners and a whole generation was tuned into a wild variety of sounds - classical, pop, world music, baroque, ancient, electronic. Easy, right? Give the right person the airwaves and the rest falls into place. Sure, but you'll need to find a broadcaster as erudite, brilliant and energetic as David Munrow, and that's no easy task.

[LISTEN] BBC Radio 3 - Pied Piper: David surveys the life of Sir Thomas Beecham
Pied Piper was broadcast on Radio 3 between 1971 and 1976 - a staggering 655 episodes in total, all presented by Munrow - and as part of their 70th anniversary celebrations they're re-running five episodes this week during the interval of Radio 3 in Concert (they're online too). For the uninitiated, it offers to chance to hear a master broadcaster at work, covering subjects as broad as Bach, English conductor and impresario Sir Thomas Beecham, brass and military bands, string quartets and music inspired by the stars. You'll learn a lot, whatever your age, because although Pied Piper was angled towards children it had a trick up its sleeve - the series was so well put together, it appealed as much to adults and had an average listening age of 29.
Munrow's love of music was life-long. He taught himself the bassoon in two weeks while still at school, before travelling to Peru, where he learned other instruments, and then studied at Cambridge in the 1960s. The breadth of his knowledge ensured he could present with devastating clarity, never cramming too much into an episode and always letting pieces of music play to a decent length, so they were enjoyable as well as illustrative. His touch was light-but-learned, fun and informative and he knew the power of stories to engage young minds. Here's how the episode (above) on Sir Thomas Beecham, grandson of the founder of the pharmaceutical company Beechams, begins: "Do you know which famous English conductor was born in St Helens, Lancashire, belonged to a family who made a fortune in pills, enjoyed cricket, chess and billiards, used to sing bass in a madrigal group and once practised the trombone in a rowing boat right out in the middle of a Swiss lake?"
In the first of the five episodes to be broadcast (below), Munrow picks out a phrase in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, composed in the early 18th century, which he tells listeners sounds like someone saying, "Jolly good! Jolly good! Jolly good! Jolly good!" Then, to prove that "most people today would agree that Bach is one of the greatest composers there's ever been - even today's pop musicians listen to and study Bach because they find it full of excitement; they find it an inspiration", he plays the section of prog rock band The Nice's Ars Longa Vita Brevis from 1968 that includes a version of "Bach's jolly good tune".
[LISTEN] BBC Radio 3 - Pied Piper: Handel, Bach and... The Nice

Renaissance man

Pied Piper came to an end in 1976 because Munrow took his own life, aged just 33. He suffered from depression, which was possibly exacerbated by the recent deaths of his father and father-in-law, to whom he dedicated his only book, Instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. He also presented the TV programmes Ancestral Voices on BBC Two and Early Musical Instruments on ITV, but it was Pied Piper that left the most dramatic mark on a generation. Among its fans are Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican Centre and former controller of the BBC Proms, current Radio 3 controller Alan Davey, and Tom Service, whose excellent, cross-genre Listening Service series on Radio 3 conjures up the cavalier spirit of Pied Piper for a 21st century audience. Writing about Munrow in BBC Music magazine, Service says: "Munrow's scarcely credible output of 655 - six hundred and fifty-five! - editions in around five years is one of the most preternaturally brilliant and prolific of any broadcaster in recorded history."
And yet there are huge swathes of music fans who best remember Munrow not for his broadcasting career, but as a musician and recording artist. It seems almost impossible to believe, but in his 33 years he also released over 50 albums that it's not an exaggeration to say they changed our understanding of music history by spectacularly throwing a light on, most notably, the medieval and renaissance periods.
Munrow's interest in what is loosely termed 'early music' began at Cambridge when he discovered a crumhorn (an early wind instrument) hanging on the wall in a friend's room. He learned to play it and later, according to his collaborator Christopher Hogwood, mastered some 42 other instruments from different times in history and different places in the world. A group he formed, Early Music Consort of London, became highly influential, their many albums managing to combine the strictures of ancient music with the free-flowing experimentation of the 1970s. Just as Canadian pianist Glenn Gould had managed with Bach in the 50s and 60s, Munrow made old music sound bracingly modern and he won an audience not just with classical buffs, but rock fans, too.
The Early Music Consort's The Art of Courtly Love won a Grammy in 1977 for best Chamber Music Performance, and Munrow also scored for TV and film - including, with Peter Maxwell Davis, Ken Russell's The Devils (1971), starring Oliver Reed.

The Munrow legacy

[LISTEN] BBC Radio 3 - Pied Piper: Music inspired by the stars

The final episode of Pied Piper to be broadcast this week (above) examines music inspired by the solar system and includes Munrow discussing astronomy with Sir Patrick Moore. We can guess that Munrow would have been thrilled to know that a piece of music performed by the Early Music Consort - The Faerie Round from Anthony Holborne's Pavans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs - was included on the Voyager Golden Records, which were sent into space in 1977. That's quite some achievement, and just one example of Munrow's extraordinary legacy.
Have we become genre-blind in the way we listen to music now? Radio 3 controller Alan Davey thinks so, telling the Sunday Times in 2015: "Young people are ­growing up with an open mind about various kinds of quite ­complex music." Munrow foresaw that, instilling a sense of sonic adventure in the minds of people who heard the Pied Piper series in the 70s and now have considerable influence on the way music is presented, curated and broadcast to us now. "Today," Tom Service writes in BBC Music magazine, "Munrow would have taken advantage of the technological possibilities of our musical world in ways that we can only imagine." He was a futurist as well as an archivist, who left the universe of music vastly expanded in all directions for the benefit of those who came next.

Related links

David Munrow (second left), playing with (left-right) Christopher Hogwood, James Tyler, Oliver Brookes and James Bowman
David Munrow (second left), playing with (left-right) Christopher Hogwood, James Tyler, Oliver Brookes and James Bowman

    Saturday, 22 October 2016

    In a child’s mind

    Blogger Ref   A Treasury of Early Music

    Thanks from schoolchildren after an early music workshop.
    Thanks from schoolchildren to David and Gill Munrow after an early music workshop.
    The BBC over the last few years has tried to get children to become more involved in classical music. November 2014 saw the introduction of Ten Pieces, an initiative aimed initially at children of primary school age. There was a “Ten Pieces” prom in August 2015. With the success of the primary school programme the initiative was expanded in 2015 to include children of secondary school age; and culminated in another Prom (Ten Pieces II) in July 2016.
    Among the more unexpected items that we have in the Music Department of the University Library are children’s responses to classical music. Specifically their response to Sir Arthur Bliss‘s Colour Symphony, and to medieval music as performed by David and Gill Munrow.

    During the 1960s, the musician, David Munrow, and his wife, Gill, ran workshops in schools introducing children to the then largely unknown world of medieval music, and the instruments of the period. One primary school in Birmingham sent a large envelope of letters to the Munrows in November 1968 to say thank you for the workshop, and to record the children’s responses to it. Though some of the responses were not unexpected, some were rather more unusual….
    I would like to thank you for coming and for the recorders that you showed us in the hall on the Wednesday. I liked the base [sic] recorder best of all I should like to play the recorder myself
    …The biggest recorder when you played it you went all red because you had run out of breath
    …I liked the recorder that squeaked
    ….I did not like the big instruments but I liked the axe [I have no idea what instrument this pupil was referring to. Can anyone out there guess?] it was a good instrument
    We all hope you will come again next year and bring us some nice instruments with you. And if you have got a real trumpet that we use nowadays [evidently not a fan of period performance!] and some flags from all other countries
    The shawm and the china bells were universally praised, and there was even a critic in the audience (aged about 8) – ….if you do come again I hope it is as good or even better than last time.

    As provided by Lady Bliss, a cover design for A colour symphony
    As provided by Lady Bliss, a cover design for A colour symphony
    Fast forward 20 years, and primary school children in Lincoln were responding to Sir Arthur Bliss’s Colour Symphony. Aided by an album cover that Lady Bliss had thoughtfully supplied, which included helpful sleeve notes by Christopher Palmer, the children listened to excerpts from the symphony using the then new Chandos recording conducted by Vernon Handley, and then responded to the work.
    Some of the responses were clearly heavily reliant on Christopher Palmer’s own response, but predictably (for children) there were some unusual responses too….
    Red…was like somebody having a sword fight. Or there was a fire in a hut and somebody [was] trying to get out
    I didn’t like purple because it was slow
    Bliss2I think blue was dancing music. I nearly did a dance. Mrs. Instrall [their student teacher] wanted to dance too
    Green is like monsters killing lots of people and eating them
    Purple is slow and soft. It sounds like a ballet dancer
    I like the green music. It sounds like you’re in a sledge riding down a hill very fast. And in a rush the sledge was very fast very good too this sledge was so big it could fit 8 people in it
    Bliss1 001Green was like some men on horses they was chasing and they saw a man was falling down a cliff and there was a monster in the water the monster it had one eye and two noses
    I like the red. It is fast and furious. But I am a boy so you would no [sic]
    And my personal favourite – Dear Lady Bliss, My name is Kylie. I come from Louth. My telephone number is…

    Wednesday, 24 August 2016

    When will they learn that apps cannot replace animateurs?

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

    Blogger Ref

    From the Blog On An Overgrown Path.....

    The recondite MusiCB3 blog about the music collections at Cambridge University has a contribution from Margaret Jones about the the University Library's resources documenting children’s responses to classical music. Unsurprisingly David Munrow features prominently in Margaret's article which includes the photo above of the Pied Piper with his wife Gill and their instrument collection*. Just before reading the article I had listened to the newly released CD Oregon Live in New Orleans, which is a transcription of an NPR broadcast of a gig Oregon played in February 1978. Readers will know of my admiration for the work of both David Munrow, and of the innovative ensemble Oregon and their predecessor Codona. David Munrow died in 1976 and two years later Oregon's visionary multi-percussionist and sitarist Collin Walcott - seen below - was killed in a car crash while the band was on tour in East Germany. Today David Munrow is remembered as a an early music specialist, and Collin Walcott is remembered as a world music/jazz fusion pioneer. But forcing their huge talents into neat little genre boxes belittles their genius, because both led large audiences on to new musical discoveries. Margaret Jones' thoughtful essay on the importance of exposing young people to great music is titled 'In a child's mind'. The young and not so young are waiting to be led. But where are today's Pied Pipers? When will classical music's multitudinous experts learn that apps cannot replace animateurs?

    * This photo is new to me and the caption says the following: Photographer unknown, please contact if you have further information. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). No comps used in this post. Also on Facebook and Twitter.