Brilliant 1962 music documentary

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

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

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 . . .

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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What was Number One this week in 1964?

Top of the Pops started in 1964 and this week Roy Orbison’s “It’s Over” was Number One.

“It’s Over” knocked Cilla Black and “You’re My World” from the top spot which she’d held for four weeks.

Roy only stayed at Number One for a couple of weeks. I didn’t like the song at all and was delighted when The Animals knocked him out with “House of the Rising Sun”.

Many years later (after seeing the film of “Pretty Woman”) I re-discovered Roy Orbison and bought a compilation CD of all his most popular songs. The BBC did a brilliant docu-biog of Roy Orbison which unfortunately isn’t available to view at the moment but is well worth watching if it comes back on iPlayer.

This version of “Pretty Woman” has had over 23 million well deserved views. Love it!

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Top of the Pops January 1964

Top of the Pops started in 1964 and this is how the show opened.

According to number-ones The Animals were at the top of the charts with “House of the Rising Sun” in July 1964 so presumably this clip was from then.

The BBC TOTP website says the show started on New Year’s Day 1964 but the film of the first show is lost.

The Dave Clark Five were at Number 1 in January 1964 with “Glad All Over” which, at the time, I thought was dreadful. Listening to it now, it’s quite jolly but unfortunately it stays in your head for hours so approach with caution!

The only other DC5 song I can recall is “Bits and Pieces” which I disliked even more than “Glad All Over”.  It’s still really awful but this clip is hilarious and there are some good shots of Chelsea boots.

The Dave Clark Five originated from Tottenham, North London and the band was founded in 1957 but disbanded in 1970.

And after the breakup in 1970?

Wikipedia records that Dave Clark (drums) was also the band’s manager and producer of their recordings. Following the group’s break-up, he set up a media company. In the process, he acquired the rights to the 1960s pop series Ready Steady Go!. Additionally, he wrote and produced the 1986 London stage musical Time – The Musical where he directed the last performance of Sir Laurence Olivier. The production was seen by an audience of over one million and a two-disc vinyl album was released in conjunction with the stage production. Mike Smith (keyboard) returned to performing in 2003 after a hiatus of 25 years. He formed Mike Smith’s Rock Engine and did two mini-tours of the U.S. He died on 28 February 2008 in London from a spinal injury sustained after scaling a fence at his home in Spain. Denis Payton (sax, harmonica and guitar) died on 17 December 2006 at the age of 63 after a long battle with cancer. Rick Huxley (guitar) died from emphysema on 11 February 2013 at the age of 72. Lenny Davidson (guitar) taught guitar for many years at a school in Cambridgeshire, where he still lives. The Dave Clark Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

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More details and a free sample to read at