I had not quite realised how long it has been since my last post. Things were a little bit wonky at the start of last week, and then I got my head down with a couple of other projects and now here we are, Monday morning again.
The announcement filtered through over the weekend of the death of Christa Ludwig, one of the very finest singers of the twentieth century. For me she was a manifestation of that highly exclusive concentration of talent that combined stellar technique with pin-sharp musical intelligence, allowing her not only to sing beautifully but also in a way that made every interpretation feel just right. Ludwig’s output is one of the great treasures of music.
On Saturday I reached some of the parts of the house that other cleanings have not reached with the nozzle of my vacuum cleaner (not a Dyson) and retrieved my big container of old manuscripts, sketches and notes. I can barely remember writing some of those pieces but the handwriting is definitely mine, so I must have been there when they happened.
In a plastic folder were some pages of music taken from one of my very earliest manuscript books, possibly even my first. The first pages are missing but my initial effort as a composer, which I still have in memory unaltered and unmodified, was a short piano prelude in what I would later recognise as the Dorian mode – these pages are probably from my second work.
It’s rough around the edges, as you might expect from an eight or nine year old who music education at that stage was very patchy but whose enthusiasm was fiery, but at least it is there on paper, evidence that I wanted to do this from my first encounters with printed music. I distinctly remember wanting to write a symphony, and adult self-criticism definitely got in the way a little too much in the intervening years, and yet here we are, closing in on the end of that symphonic project. It has been quite a journey.