Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

214 words that a picture is definitely worth

Having been alerted by Jocelyn to the feature in the Guardian on the 150th anniversary of the Halle Orchestra, I was browsing the associated photo gallery when I encountered this astonishing picture. The true professional, producing beautiful music in a cramped (else why is she alongside the horns?) and cold (overcoat, fingerless gloves) rehearsal room. But it's the hat (or headsquare?) and the glasses (violinist's and horn player's) that make the picture look dated. It seems to have been taken in 1953, so rationing was still in force and Churchill was Prime Minister. The music of Messaien was the cutting edge of European experimentalism, and British music was in the middle of a glorious era of creative fertility, with Britten, Tippett, Walton and Vaughan Williams all shining brightly, and with composers like Finzi still alive. Elvis and Sinatra cut their first records in 1953, as did Tom Lehrer.

And in a cold Manchester rehearsal room, Mrs Mopp plays Mahler (maybe). I don't know quite what it is about the picture, but to me it has the quality of a great poster, like the one of the skyscraper builders having their lunch sitting on a girder. It is utterly of its time but still a fascinating image.

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