*
banner

Book review: Before the Music Stopped

The Life of a Professional Musician 1965 -2000
Author: Peter Bassano
ISBN: 9798783933660
Hardback/Paperback/Kindle versions

Bassano

The return of the BBC Proms following the lunga pausa of Covid-19 has been a joyful reaffirmation of what we have missed as music lovers. It has also given a renewed appreciation of the somewhat precarious lives of the professional musicians who provide it for us.

What we would give to have the chance, let alone the talent to take to the stage of the finest concert halls under the greatest maestros in the world? 

Then again, what about the daily pressures of live performance, unsociable hours, demanding conductors and hours of travel, let alone variable rates of pay, fragile employment security, high stress levels and potential hearing loss?  

The life of a freelance musician offers wonderful artistic fulfilment, but as Covid-19 showed, you still have to be able pay the bills like anyone else.

Narrative thread

That’s the narrative thread (albeit covering the period 1965-200) that discreetly underpins this wittily acerbic and unflatteringly honest biographical recall of a musical live well lived and thoroughly enjoyed by Peter Bassano.

Then again how about going to work with Ashkenazy, Globokar, Santi, Salonen, Previn or Sophie von Otter, or sitting near to Denis Wick, John Fletcher, Maurice Murphy and Willie Lang in their playing (as well as mischievous) prime?     

He too has had to pay well publicised and expensive bills in his time, but then again, how do you put a value on the experience of playing under the likes of Klemperer, Haitink, Abbado, Barbirolli, Muti and Maazel, or linking up with Pink Floyd or being recorded  by George Martin for the vocal chorus of ‘Hey Jude’  by The Beatles?

Then again how about going to work with Ashkenazy, Globokar, Santi, Salonen, Previn or Sophie von Otter, or sitting near to Denis Wick, John Fletcher, Maurice Murphy and Willie Lang in their playing (as well as mischievous) prime?     

Eye for character

The stories are embellished by an easy writing style and a keen observational eye for character – warts and all about himself and others (one trumpet player with a ruddy complexion looked like “one of Poussin’s satyrs”) whom he has spent hours upon hours with – from recording studios to hotel rooms.  

From helping to put in Placido Domingo’s contact lenses to John Fletcher’s remarkable party tricks, the self-deprecating wit is laced with a genuine respect and love for his fellow artists.

From helping to put in Placido Domingo’s contact lenses to John Fletcher’s remarkable party tricks, the self-deprecating wit is laced with a genuine respect and love for his fellow artists. There is also a healthy dose of sardonic honesty about some of the less tasteful character traits of some notable egocentric performers and conductors (although the lack of an index could be a blessing).

As a musician of note and wide-ranging, informed artistic insight, Bassano provides a remarkably candid appreciation of perhaps the last great period of time when professional musicians led lives where the appreciation of talent still outweighed the worries of the mundane necessities of life.

We can only hope that they return for him to write about more.

Iwan Fox 


To purchase:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Before-Music-Stopped-Professional-1965-2000/dp/B09NGXZPZB

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    



Grimethorpe Colliery Band - Octagon Theatre Yeovil

Saturday 1 October • The Octagon Theatre. Hendford. Yeovil. Somerset BA20 1UX


Grimethorpe Colliery Band - Albany Theatre Coventry

Sunday 2 October • Albany Road, Coventry CV5 6JQ


Contest: Bolsover Festival of Brass

Sunday 2 October • Heritage High School, Clowne, Chesterfield S43 4QG


Boarshurst Silver Band - Phoenix Brass

Sunday 2 October • Boarshurst Band Club. Greenbridge Lane. Greenfield. Saddleworth OL3 7EW


Regent Hall Concerts - The Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra

Friday 7 October • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London WC1 2 DJ


East London Brass

September 28 • East London Brass is looking for a new principal cornet. We're a friendly and ambitious band and would love to welcome a great player who knows how to lead, inspire and enjoy themselves!


Cheltenham Silver Band

September 28 • Cheltenham Silver Band are looking for a kit player/percussionist. We are a 3rd section contesting band with an exciting programme of performances and contests. We are a friendly and supportive band with a strong academy and regular social events.


Stape Silver Band

September 28 • We are looking for a new Musical Director for our friendly, family oriented band based in Pickering, North Yorkshire. We are looking for an inspiring MD who will help grow, improve and develop the band.


John Ward


Conductor, Adjudicator


               

 © 2022 4barsrest.com Ltd