You gotta do what you gotta do

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II

H.M. The Queen is 81 today.

Alasdair left at nine in the morning for Schipol. We ate breakfast together and I took him down to the tramhalte. But I didn’t accompany him further because it’s an easy journey.

He arrived late last night and so we talked into the small hours, rather than over dinner. Very nice. I’m going to see him from time to time perhaps, as he has to make visits to the Koninklijk Conservatorium over the coming months. He gave me two of his scores and some recordings. He has a page at the RSAMD website.

After he had gone, I continued work on my string quartet.

Finally I have tracked down a recording of the John Rutter Requiem. It was the Requiem Aeternam movement broadcast on the radio a few weeks ago that struck Ananda and myself with such force. It is an inspired and well crafted movement . What I mainly wish to note here however is that this sort of specialist church music composer is regarded with contempt by my contemporary music composer colleagues. A strange snobbery, as one would certainly think twice before attending a vocal piece composed by some of those guys! He-he.

It’s partly about snobbery, but it’s also partly about acting and lying. But that’s an unnecessarily negative way of describing it. Let’s just refer to it as “career mentality”. Everybody remembers the case of the conservative government minister who gave an embarrassingly jingoistic, rabble rousing speech at a party conference. He lost his seat at the subsequent general election and then began to change his tune radically and to reveal himself as quite a reasonable man. He seemed to many to be papabile but then it emerged that he had a “gay past”. Oh dear. So he flopped in the ensuing leadership election. Only half interested in this depressing comedy, I realised rather late that the famous awful speech and subsequent change of direction had as their basis an ambition to rise to the top in politics, and maybe little else.

We make a pretence (and how often have I shuddered at hearing MYSELF deliver some carefully crafted compliment about Elliot Carter’s music?) because we hope to belong to the group that is going to ascend smoothly to the top. And we hope also that no one will notice that we don’t actually give a rat’sfuck about the group credo. I don’t happen to think it’s culpable to lie about one’s beliefs in order to survive and prosper. I just think it’s a pity that a very accomplished composer like John Rutter gets trodden underfoot in the process.

The Queen’s birthday today reminds me of what a disaffected bunch the composers’ group is. They are “republican” and “socialist” and “atheist”. I can’t imagine one of them turning up to cathedral evensong or taking communion at a Church of England mass unless they were paid to do so. And they would certainly laugh to scorn the very idea of a Royal Family. Fair enough. But watch when you withdraw the government subsidy from these same folk how they start chanting about the collapsing state of the nation. And by the way, not a few of these “socialist” composers don’t give a ratshit about what music “the people” actually enjoy. That makes sense to them I guess.

Well, I don’t mean entirely to condemn the hypocrisy and, as I indicated, I take part in it myself. You gotta do what you gotta do.

But let me resolve henceforth always to think well of my colleagues, no matter how rich and talentless they may be. I cannot promise always to SPEAK well of them, but in my heart they shall be honoured. Dear, dear colleagues, may you live long and prosper.