Tuesday 5 December 2006

Hywel Williams writes about Benjamin Britten in an Article in The Guardian today. All well and good; part of the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of Britten's death.

But in discussing his years at the Royal College of Music, Williams says that 'Ralph Vaughan Williams, a professor at the Royal College of Music when Britten was a student there, was at the height of his influence during Britten's youth. The dead weight of Williams's ill-disciplined meanderings meant that a provincialising Victorian taste was having an artificially prolonged existence in English music.'

Anyone who has heard RVW's music from the 30's and 40's would hardly call it ill-disciplined meanderings. RVW hid himself behind a protective carapace of amateurism. His technique was anything but amateurish, but too many commentators take him at fact value rather than really looking at the music.

And as a teacher, RVW was pretty open. His pupils cover quite a wide range of the musical spectrum; he encouraged them to be themselves. Granted neither RVW nor the English establishment were as open to the wider Viennese school as they should have been. But Williams article is simply the usual lazy thinking which neither helps RVW nor Britten

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