Brilliant 1962 music documentary

Edward Elgar

Reminiscing recently about a holiday in the Malvern Hills, sent me on a YouTube search for the 1962 Ken Russell documentary about Sir Edward Elgar.

The documentary has been uploaded in four parts but it’s the opening of the film that I remember most of all.

If you’ve never seen this documentary the first couple of minutes are fantastic.

Between 1959 and 1970, Ken Russell directed documentaries for the BBC Monitor and Omnibus arts programmes.

His best known works during this period include: Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), Song of Summer (about Frederick Delius and Eric Fenby, 1968) and Dance of the Seven Veils (1970), a film about Richard Strauss.

Elgar was the first televised arts programme about an artistic figure made as a feature-length film rather than a series of shorter segments. It was also the first time that re-enactments were used. Russell fought with the BBC over using actors to portray different ages of the same character in addition to the traditional photograph stills and documentary footage.


Thanks for visiting my blog today and hope you had time to watch a bit of this marvellous film – even if only the opening scenes.

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Teen idol rock-and-roller at 81

I wrote a blogpost about Britain’s first teen idol rock-and-roll star last year:

#OnThisDay in 1936 Thomas William Hicks was born #TommySteele

and meandering around Youtube the other day found these two sweet clips.

And, although I don’t read The Daily Mail very often,

this amazing story.

Two-mile runs every day, hours on the tennis court and bouncing around in a West End show that keeps him up until 3am: How Tommy Steele is still rocking at 81 in The Glenn Miller Story.

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5 minutes of music education



I don’t know enough about music theory to say if this really is the greatest five minutes in music education but it was hugely impressive and informative.

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Henry Hall’s Orchestra 1932

music notes

Following on from Lovely out-of-print piano music collection #JeromeKern I’ve found this 1932 Youtube clip of Henry Hall and his orchestra.

Well worth a glance!

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More beautiful piano music by Frank Bridge

piano music

If you enjoyed the Berceuse by Frank Bridge that I blogged about in My new favourite piano music! , I think you’ll love this piece. A friend has loaned me the music, and believe me, it’s tricky. But lovely!

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Brilliant performance of Ravel’s Bolero


If you haven’t seen this fabulous performance of Ravel’s Bolero, it’s well worth watching.

Almost four and a half million views – four of them from me!

As the title on the film clip says – stunning!

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The beautiful English village of Leefdale seems reassuringly tranquil. But appearances can be deceptive.

Sharon guards a dark family secret.

Barbara is fighting to save her marriage.

Zoe is trying to sort her life out.

Louise is desperate to be recognised for who she truly is . . .

Lovely out-of-print piano music collection #JeromeKern

Jerome Kern

I stopped having piano lessons when I was about fifteen. Recently I’ve started practising the piano again regularly and keep learning more new tunes. I had a yen to play Jerome Kern songs and ordered this out-of-print selection from an Amazon second hand dealer.


music 6

I don’t know who Vera and Eric were but I thought this inscription in the top left corner of the cover page was very poignant. Imagine how Vera and Eric must have been feeling at Christmas 1945. WW2 was barely over; they were probably still suffering from bereavement and trauma; rationing had continued and yet they were once again living in peace. I hope they had a really wonderful Christmas and enjoyed their Jerome Kern songs.

These adaptations of Kern songs for string quartet are lovely. Four minutes of total bliss!

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My new favourite piano music!


At the start of the year I rented a piano and I’ve enjoyed learning some new tunes as well as playing pieces that have been familiar since childhood.

In the late 1950s I had a wonderful piano teacher who got me  to Grade 3 and a less  wonderful teacher who helped me to Grade 5.

Then adolescent ennui kicked in and after  failing Grade 6 through lack of practice I stopped having lessons.

Over the years I’ve continued to play sporadically but without regular practice and no further lessons.

Since I started playing the piano again I’ve bought a couple of collections of exam pieces and managed to stumble through some of them including this lovely “Berceuse” by Frank Bridge.

Frank Bridge wrote the piece in 1901, originally for violin and piano. He wrote several versions but the solo piano adaptation wasn’t written until 1929.

As well as composing, Bridge was a conductor and music teacher most notably to Benjamin Britten.

Britten had so much respect for Bridge’s ability as a teacher that he wrote one of his early pieces as a tribute.

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10, is a work for string orchestra  written in 1937 and premiered at the Salzburg Festival.

I’ve never heard this before but I liked it.

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La Vie en Rose


I always thought La Vie en Rose was an Edith Piaf song but according to this Youtube description, the song was first sung by Marianne Michel.

Piaf was involved in the writing of the song but thought it was too mournful until the song began to become popular and she remembered her role in its creation.

There are countless Youtube renditions  of La Vie en Rose but  I especially liked this Andrea Bocelli version….

… and eight year old Erza in the final of the 2014 France’s Got Talent.

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