As I had my first cup of coffee of the day I went on my usual morning visit to Jessica Duchen's site. She was discussing an article written by Stephen King, it's well worth a visit as I'm sure the comments will be flooding in, especially as the story has now been picked up in Italy. (Well done Jessica!).
King's article left me rather perplexed and resulted in me leaving a long and rambling comment on Jessica's site.
However, the feeling didn't leave me, and I have been thinking it over ever since.
It's all about the recent removal of Elgar from the 20 pound note in the UK. Strange that they should choose the 150th anniversary to do this, but then banks work in mysterious ways.
What made me cross was that King says "his appearance represents a peculiar celebration of mediocrity", and that he should never have been on in the first place.
Let me quote from 'The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'.
Sir Edward Elgar:
"His abundant invention, largeness of vision, and strength and singularity of musical character place him high among European Romantic artists and at the peak of British music of his time. He drew inspiration from the culture and landscape of his own country, resourcefulness from the study of his continental colleagues; and he worked in all the major forms except opera, creating a significant body of symphonic literature, the finest oratorio by an Englishman, and in his popular music a style of direct national appeal."
The list of works covers nearly four pages.
Mediocre is not a word I would use in connection with Elgar, but then maybe King, Head of Economics at HSBC bank, knows something that Groves Dictionary (or musicians bible) doesn't.
Many of the points I raised on Jessica's site I shall probably return to on another day, but one I will follow up now is the British attitude to anyone that succeeds. We seem incapable of appreciating those that do well, whatever their chosen field is, but allow hours of television time on brainless 'reality shows', which really are a celebration of mediocrity.
This is a debate we frequently have here in Hillhouse and Robin has a saying which just about sums it up:
"To the triumph of industry over indolence and merit over mediocrity." Robin Hill.
Oh, by the way, Robin has played for many hours today and is currently dining out in London whilst his fingers recover!
'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman