I come from a musical family. My father played the violin in a university orchestra even though he had to leave school at the age of eleven. Some family friend of his parents paid for young Harry’s lessons. My Uncle Ernest gained scholarships and went on to become a Cathedral Organist and piano teacher. My brother, taught by our uncle, was a good pianist. My nieces, pupils of the redoubtable Fanny Waterman, have both become excellent pianists and Nikki, sister to Susan who studied Music at Oxford, as well as playing the piano plays the French Horn and other Brass instruments in a variety of Scottish National Orchestras, as well as teaching private pupils. My son chose music as one of his senior subjects and enjoyed singing in front of an audience, as did my daughter. Another member of the family was head choirboy at Romsey Abbey and plays many woodwind instruments. He still sings. I play YouTube; an old joke but, in my case, sadly true. However, to compensate for my total lack of performance skills, the Good Lord gave me a pair of ears, which, throughout my life, I have endeavoured to put to good use.
I love Music. From the time I get up in the morning to when I go to bed at night, there is always music in my home. My tastes are eclectic; Classical, Pop, Folk, I know what I like, and what a joy it is to live in these present times and to be able to access, through my computer, any music I fancy. My classical taste, I used to say, began with Dowland and ended with early Beethoven, but I have grown older and wiser and go way beyond that nowadays. Try Andreas Scholl singing Vivaldi or Itzhak Perlman playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Magnificent! I have always had a fondness for the latter as it was one of the few records we had at home. One played it on a wind-up gramophone with steel needles that had to be changed each time one played a precious disc. Woe betide anyone who was responsible for a scratch. How my father would have loved to be able to listen to his music without the need to read through the Radio Times and circle the programmes that interested him. Music in our home was my brother playing the piano, my father playing Pagenine Caprices, as he would laughingly call them, or even my brother and I tackling some Schubert songs, “Once a boy a wild rose spied” or, if I pushed my luck, I would get out an ancient song-book and persuade my brother to accompany me to “An Arab’s Farewell to his Favourite Steed”. Very stirring. You can see, even then, I was a bit of a renegade. I wangled my way into the school choir by singing “Drink to me only”, a merciful relief for my teacher who had sat through twenty or more renditions of “Early one Morning”. As a reward, I got to sing Madrigals and a superb arrangement of Haydn’s Creation for girls.
To be young in the ’60s was very Heaven, to misquote. I remember deep discussions as to whom we should hold allegiance to, the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. I was a Beatles fan, my favourite album being Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but I must admit “I can’t get no Satisfaction” has stood the test of time. I loved to dance, so fortunately, did Don. In fact, our romance began to the music of Acker Bilk, though I liked MJQ too. Don and I loved Musical theatre and were always proud of the fact we got to attend the London production of “Hair”. Don’s evening was enlivened by having a stark naked woman sit on his lap! Later, when we were married and had returned to Australia, we attended a series of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado etc. The wit of the words married to that music. Unforgettable! As was the Pie and Peas we bought from a van in Brisbane as our after-theatre dining! Generally speaking though, as we had a young family, we relied on LP’s to sate our thirst for music, The Rock Follies, Rock Follies 77, Evita, War of the Worlds, and more. I must pause before my tears drown my keyboard.
In the ’80s, when we had five kids between eight and thirteen due to circumstances I might explain later, every week I would buy them an LP of their choice and would enjoy the record as much as they did. A couple of Christmases ago, I was trying to think of a title that I used to love so I could find it on YouTube when my daughter said that she always remembered me dancing to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Bingo! And The Bangles rendition of “Eternal Flame”. I still enjoy these songs.
When at uni, there was a Folk Club that would meet in the engineering block of the University every Thursday evening. I would often attend. Liquid refreshment was available, music was performed by the students, proving that even Engineers have hearts. I still play Joan Baez and Dylan; still enjoy the humour of Flanders and Swann and Tom Lehrer.
I am not, and never have been, any kind of Musical snob: from Bach’s St. Mathew’s Passion which my girlfriends and I would attend every Easter, to my present discovery of Dana Winner and Leonard Cohen, the latter sending shivers up my spine; I love them all. I am still dancing, even if, these days, my partner is my office chair. Elaine Lutton