How did I miss Beethoven? Well, I didn’t really, he was always there thundering along in British WW2 films, da da da daaa, but when I think of the miles I have driven listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos or the liters of whisky I have sobbed into against the backgound of poor old Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven has not been a Soundtrack in my life. So far.
My dad was a music teacher as well as being the church organist, every house we ever lived in had a piano, and one of my earliest memories is of my mum playing the piano and me sitting under it, singing. Singing was what we did, as a family, especially driving on holiday as this was in the day before car radios. We sang all the time in church too: one of my biggest shocks in Germany is that people ‘sing’ sitting down in German churches. Sing? They mumble, miserably.
What’s more, we were Welsh. And if you are Welsh, you can sing, and you sing as way cheering yourself up, or calming yourself down, or being part of a larger Group. Many years ago I happened to be in a Pub in Swansea (Wales) on a Sunday lunchtime, when suddenly all the men in the room started singing the hymn ‘Cwm Rhondda’, which is the inofficial anthem of Wales. (‘Cwm’ is Welsh for ‘valley’, and The Rhondda Valley is a place in South Wales, not far from where my family came from.) Still today I get goosebumps thinking of that day. Here’s the hymn Cwm Rhondda, the sound of my childhood (the last verse is sung in Welsh):
And just in this moment I realize how much I am missing the Six Nations Rugby Season this year.
Many years ago, inspired by Robin (who was already a member) Horst joined the Junior section of our local church brass band. Over the years the Flugelhorn got forgotten alongside the other instruments lolling in our house, but over the last weeks it is seeing the light of day again.
I am loving it.
Did you all see the movie ‘Brassed Off’?
Horst isn’t Welsh, of course, and I don’t think music had played such a big part in his life until he tripped over me. In turn, I wouldn’t have been so interested in the harp or the Great Highland Bagpipe if those hadn’t been Laura’s and Robin’s instruments of choice.
And would I ever have become entranced by Dusun Music without the Borneos?
Today I hear on BBC Radio 4 that tomorrow musicians all over the UK will be playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ at 5pm BST. So am just downloading the sheet music so that our very own Flugelhornist can join in, yet again across the miles.
So I hereby promise all of you that in autumn we will not only catch up with our Beatles lessons, we’ll also take a look at Beethoven. After all, it is his Jubilee year and as the Website says “Ludwig van Beethoven is the most frequently performed of all classical composers. He was also a radical artist who constantly reinvented himself, expanded the boundaries of music and posed questions to society. “
From ‘The King’s Speech’ (Symphony No 7)
And, before you go – a perfect piece. Nothing to do with my family, or Wales, or Beethoven. But still perfect.
e Cabin Fever part
Beethoven Jubilee year: