Recorded in March and broadcast on 3 May, my contribution to BBC Radio 3′s My Life in Music was The Silver Swan. Producer Rosie Boulton approached me to write about music that had had a profound influence on me in determining my life in music. It was quite hard to pinpoint a single work or works from the thousands that could be mentioned: the first time I played in the National Youth Orchestra was Tchaikovsky 5 for instance, but what about Mahler symphonies, all those operas I played (Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Strauss), Gurrelieder and so on? And chamber music (Mozart K452 or K361, Beethoven quartets, Bartok) and those records that I wore out as a child (Richter playing the Wanderer Fantasie, Dennis Brain’s Mozart Horn Concerti, Ansermet and The Rite of Spring)? Stop me, like you the list is endless!
I sent Rosie some initial ideas from all these (including a piece on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which is another story….), and what came back was her feeling that my Silver Swan told a special story. So I hope you enjoy it – a memory of singing in a punt in Oxford in c. 1964. I shared the series with Chris Wood, Kerry Andrew, Karine Polwart and Sally Beamish, by the way – their contributions are great!