Monday, 3 April 2017
Just now, things seem to be conspiring to bear me back into the past - specifically to that golden period when I first arrived, as a nine-year-old boy, in the suburban demiparadise that is still, after various wanderings, my home. I was listening to Radio 3 this morning when Schubert's lovely song Hark! Hark! The Lark came on, beautifully performed by Ailish Tynan with Iain Burnside on the piano. This took me straight back to music lessons at my primary school when, with Mr Rutland at the piano, we children would raise our voices to sing this song, and Haydn's Creation's Hymn and Beethoven's Ode to Joy and Purcell's Nymphs and Shepherds and other stirring and joyful classics. Actually, I wasn't raising my voice much at all, but I was listening - and Hark! Hark! The Lark was one of the very first songs that awakened the love of music in me - a love that has, in various forms, been part of my life ever since. Hark! Hark! sent me to the record shop to buy what I think was my first record - a Music for Pleasure EP of Die Forelle, sung by the Vienna Boys' Choir (price 6s 8d). This happened in an unremarkable state primary school - would a pupil of today hear such music at the age of nine? I very much doubt it. But then it seems to me, looking back, that we came out of that fifty-to-a-class primary school rather better educated, in some ways, than today's graduates. Times change.