I’ve just logged on to ‘Spotify’ to listen to the G-minor mass, BWV235 by JSB; completely enchanting. I remember attending various choral concerts – The B-minor mass (B’ham Symphony Hall) or Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater in B’ham Cathedral, or Duruflé’s Requiem at Leicester Cathedral (John Comyn was in the choir, I seem to recall) or Bruckner E-minor at St John’s, Smith Square, or the Szymanowski Stabat Mater at the QEH on March 23, 1985 performed by the Orpheus Chamber Choir…..
And at many of these concerts, one is aware of the singers turning the pages of their scores all in unison like a flock of doves struggling to take flight; I wonder if nowadays, choirs are issued with Kindle e-book readers which automatically scroll through the music at the correct speed?
But these high-tech toys lack the personal dimension of a real printed score. There may be copies of choral works still in use which were handed down by grandmothers whose music teachers once studied with Holst or Britten. Brief notes in the margin evoke the presence of a great teacher, and carry a potent magic.
For many years I was a fan of the Jim Steinman school of classical music; longer plus louder equals better. I adored hefty pieces – Mahler 8, Bruckner 5, Berlioz’ Requiem, the 1812 and so on – and was convinced that serious music was there to overwhelm rather than to delight.
And I sometimes see this fondness for grandeur in the business policy announcements of some senior managers. One MD, several years ago, issued an order that our annual paint production was to be increased by a million litres per year. When my boss informed me of this, I snorted with laughter and said without thinking ‘But that’s twenty tonnes a week…’
I asked whether we had received orders for this extra output, and if we had enough production capacity to handle it; but he dismissed my questions, saying: ‘These are just trivial distractions which won’t actually help us to achieve this important goal’
Now, instead, I have learned to love the classical approach to music; lithe, crisp performances where the imposing splendour comes from phrasing, rather than decibels. And perhaps business strategy could be viewed in the same way; rather than being obsessed by growth, firms could explore their processes in detail, looking for the textures and colours which are often lost in the deafening blare of EBITDA.
Journal Entry, May 2004:
Years ago I had a copy of ‘The Unspeakable Confessions of Salvador Dali’ in which he rambles insanely on about food, sex and painting. One chapter opens with an account of the events which make up his typical morning and includes the phrase “Three hippies and a guitar take their place on the sofa. The day is ready to begin”.
I always remember this line when I see the three company directors’ cars parked up against the factory wall.
Last night went to cinema to see ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ starring Jim Carrey, a sci-fi romantic black comedy.
Title is a quotation from Pope; he was very classically educated and would have known all about Ovid’s ideas about overcoming love affairs. And did this quote inspire Wordsworth: ‘And in eternal summer lose our threescore years and ten’?