Saturday, 12 January 2013

Henry Wood Lecture on David Munrow, February 2011

When I first entered the lecture area at the Royal Academy of Music I instantly recognized the profile at a distance of Ed Bream who is writing a thesis on the DM, and the performance practices of the Early Music Consort. He told me that progress on it was "..very slow" unfortunately.

Anyway, I must confess there was quite an assortment of individuals who came. A veritable all, and sundry!!

The lecture itself was illustrated by extracts from Pied Piper, and music samples plus on screen projections from two PCs of some material from the RAM collection, and other sources mentioned here.

I did not take notes on the talk but here are some key points which were made by Mr. Summerly. However, I have tried to be reasonably accurate ......

a) Munrow had the ability via his radio broadcasts to make long deceased composers come alive. One also felt that he was talking directly to the listener.

b) Munrow helped popularise the recorder. However, a certain John  Paul Jones of Led Zepeelin fame arguably did the most to popularise this instrument. An extract to a Stairway to Heaven was played in which Jones recorder playing was featured.

c) Munrow did some work for the The Pentangle group, and a piece of their relevant music was played. I had not heard it before, and it was quite interesting.

d) It was claimed that Munrows reasoning processes were at time a little "unorthodox", and two examples on screen were given.

e) An extract from a recording with Shirley  Collins was played in which she recalled her contact with the Early Music Consort. She admitted to Munrow that she could not read music, but he claimed that it did not matter, and offered words of encouragement.

f) On screen at three, or four times, original publicity materials were shown demonstrating the high status that Munrows Pied Piper programme occupied in the Radio Times listing, and also the Royal Festival Hall performance.

g) At the end of the talk above I raised the question of the origin of the term Early Music. Mr. Summerly replied that he had never thought about it before. I suggested that evidence seems to suggest that Munrow might have invented it but this was dashed when I examined Roger Norringtons famous a book with Early Music in its title which was first published in circa 1963. However, a member of the audience claimed that the term goes back to 18th century to some  music  Academy.

h) I asked Mr. Summerly about the possibility of a biography. I had hoped he would take up the challenge but I think not.

i) Someone from the audience raised the question about the existence of the  Pied Piper radio programmes. Mr. Summerly claimed that many of them still existed, and others were possibly wiped. He made an interesting point about the Hobbit series which was apparently wiped, and it was only through a private recording by somone outside the BBC that it was saved for posterity. This reminds me of the early Dr. Who series.

j) Mr. Summerly also mentioned receiving the dvd (ie Early Musical Instruments) from Mr. David Griffiths site. I also announced to the audience a request for any anecdotal stories about DM which could be put on the forum. I said too that the dvd mention by Summerly could be bought on Mr. Griffith website. In other words, I was acting as an unoffical salesman!

PS. Mr. Summerly also seemed to mention something from one of my posts in which Michael Laird described how he came across Munrow.

RS Munrow Forum.

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