Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Musical Journey

by Robert Bovington

My musical journey probably began when, as a young boy, I sang 'Home On The Range' at Christmas during family singsongs and, once on stage at 'Peter Pan's Children's Playground' on Brighton seafront, for which I was rewarded with a stick of rock. My journey progressed through my early years by briefly embracing Classical music when I sang in the Standford Road School Choir in a concert of Bach & Handel. 

But music became an interest and finally an obsession in the late 50's when I was given an old 'wind-up' gramophone and I played my 'collection' of 78's — about half-a-dozen records that arrived with the gramophone — the only one I remember at all had someone singing 'Mountain Greenery' but I know it wasn't Mel Torme's recording. Shortly afterwards, I saved my pocket money and purchased my first record — Woolworth's Embassy records cover version of 'Stupid Cupid' and 'Carolina Moon' — I could not afford the Connie Francis version!

Unlike Leslie Garrett's household, ours was not a particularly musical family — my mother would listen to 'Music While You Work' and sing along to the odd Dorothy Squires record or Theresa Brewer's 'Music, Music, Music'. My father's musical contribution would mostly be "Can't you turn that bloody row down?" though he did have a penchant for Charlie Kunz piano music.

My early sojourn into the world of music was, like most teenagers of the late 50's, by the way of pop music and, in particular, rock 'n' and skiffle — mostly via our very first 9 inch screen black & white TV. We would watch '6-5 Special' featuring Don Lang and his Frantic Five and Nancy Whisky and shortly afterwards 'Oh Boy!' where I can remember a young Cliff Richard doing his 'Elvis the Pelvis' impersonation.

I could not afford records so I would spend my evenings with my ear glued to a crackling valve-driven radio listening to the latest hits on Radio Luxembourg. In 1959, my grandma gave me an old tape recorder and I started recording all the hits — 'Apache', 'Counting Teardrops', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'... During the next couple of years, I would record from radio programs that included 'Saturday Club' & 'Easy Beat'.  The tapes must have sounded dreadful as the recording method consisted of placing the plastic microphone near the radio's speaker — very different from modern recording methods!

Once I started earning a living, I purchased a record player and began buying 45's. Sam Cooke's 'Another Saturday Night' and Elvis Presley's 'Good Luck Charm' being the first of many.

Since those early days, my musical taste has expanded rather than changed. I still occasionally play some of my old records including artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, The Beatles, Santana and Dire Straits but my preference is for Classical music.

I like most types of Classical music: concertos, symphonies, baroque, sonatas, opera and chorale. My CD collection ranges from medieval music to 20th century composers ranging from Hildegard von Bingen to Arvo Pärt and I have a piece of music allegedly composed by Henry VIII! 

I currently prefer music composed by the more traditional composers though, especially Mozart and Beethoven and my favourite genre are the romantic concertos, particularly violin. As I explore the world of Classical music, I frequently discover or rediscover musical gems like Vaughan Williams 'Variations on a Theme by Thomas Tallis'. With the vast amount of superb music in existence, I would find it difficult to name my favourite piece. I particularly like Max Bruch's 'Violin Concerto' and his 'Scottish Fantasy', there is Rachmaninov's 2nd and 3rd 'Piano Concertos', Mozart's 'Clarinet Concerto' and now that I live in Spain, I have been listening more often to Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez'. There are many more in the same category and Johan Sebastian Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' is up there with them!