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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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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#Throwback Thursday #BookReview Make a Joyful Noise by Jenny Worstall @JennyWorstall

For several years I wrote a book blog and accumulated comments on a wealth of really good reads.

I saw on Twitter that Renee at It’s Book Talk started using the #ThrowbackThursday meme as a way to share books that are old favourites or have been waiting to be read for a long time.

I decided to visit my old book reviews and re-post my favourites here on 3sixtyfiveblog for #ThrowbackThursday.

So far I’ve included

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns

Kings and Queens by TerryTyler


Blood-Tied by Wendy Percival

This week it’s Make a Joyful Noise by Jenny Worstall, a romantic comedy with some unusual twists.

From the Amazon book description:

‘Make a Joyful Noise’ (Sing with the Choir Book 1), is the sparkling tale of a choir preparing for a very special Christmas performance of “Belshazzar’s Feast”.

We meet a host of characters who are mercilessly sent up by the author: Lucy the staggeringly trusting young music teacher, Tristan the lecherous anti-hero, Miss Greymitt the ageing and slightly arthritic choir pianist, Steve the handsome and trustworthy bass, Claire the shameless and scheming temptress, and singers with nothing but resonance between their ears.

Just as all does not run smoothly for King Belshazzar or the inhabitants of Babylon in Walton’s music, so the characters in the novel suffer from hopeless yearnings, romantic misunderstandings and the unfortunate consequences of their own misguided actions.

All is sharply and wittily observed in a delightful mix of romance, music and humour.

My Review from Indie Bookworm

This is an ideal holiday book and I read most of it sitting in the garden in the sunshine enjoying the sound of the bees in the honeysuckle and a glass or two of chilled white wine.

Lucy is a newly qualified secondary school music teacher who is struggling with her classes; she is also struggling to establish her social life in a new town. She has been introduced to the local choral society and has fallen for ageing Lothario, Tristan, the choir conductor. Meanwhile fellow choir member and history teacher, Steve, has fallen for her. A typical love story triangle which is developed to a fairly predictable ending.

What makes the book different and interesting is its background in the choir. They are working on a special piece for the Christmas concert: Belshazzar’s Feast by William Walton. The author has cleverly used lines from the text of the piece (mainly The Book of Daniel and Psalm 137 put together by Osbert Sitwell) to head up the chapters of the book. I hadn’t listened to Belshazzar’s Feast for years and downloaded it from iTunes; I’d forgotten what splendid music it is. It was very fashionable back in the seventies to use some of it for “inspiration” in school drama classes and with justification. In places it is loud, rumbustious and raucous but thoroughly enjoyable. It has a complicated score and poor Miss Greymitt, the choir’s rehearsal accompanist, understandably struggles with it.

I read on her Author page that Jenny Worstall is a teacher and this shows in her understanding of poor Lucy’s struggles in the classroom. However I’m not sure that these days there would be so much understanding of her difficulties by senior management; Lucy’s department head is kind, considerate and supportive and constantly making allowances for her poor performance. But this “niceness” epitomises the book and makes it a charming read. If you’re fed up with the current trend to place young women into sexually submissive, sado-masochistic, fetish fantasy scenarios you’ll really enjoy Make a Joyful Noise. Lucy is actually shocked when Tristan says “damn” and gives her a full frontal peck on the cheek and the worst insult she comes up with is to call her rival for Tristan’s affection, Miss Custard Cream.

As well as Miss Greymitt there’s a full cast of supporting characters ranging from Lucy’s absentee mother, her bossy older sister and cute ballet dancing nieces to slightly acerbic flatmate and staffroom soulmate Julia.

I enjoyed reading Make a Joyful Noise; it’s pleasant and easy to read and if it happens to be more typical British summer weather and you want something to take your mind off cold, wet and miserable then this book would be just fine.

Click Free Preview below to start reading straightaway!



Prague 1934 #CitySymphonies

I was introduced to the concept of city symphonies a couple of years ago. This blogpost explains more.

“We Live in Prague” was filmed in 1934. Don’t be put off by the Keystone Cops style opening shots! The film includes some remarkable insights into the lives of ordinary people and some fascinating explorations of film techniques particularly night-time filming.

The film-makers are Joachim Barenz, Elke Kellermann and Jochen Wolf.

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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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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

Do you like City Symphonies?

A couple of years ago I signed up for an adult education course looking at the history of documentary film in the 20th century.

The course introduced me to the concept of city symphonies about which I was completely unaware but for which I became hugely enthusiastic.

During my necessary chemotherapy resting periods I’ve started re-visiting city symphonies and enjoying once again some of the marvellous examples that are available on-line.

The concept of the city symphony evolved during the 1920s in the era of the silent film.

There’s a good explanation on the British Film Institute (BFI) website which begins:

The city symphony is an unusual genre, which belongs almost entirely to just one decade: the 1920s. It’s a divided genre too. These silent films could celebrate the splendours of modernity or castigate the decadence and the degradation of urban life. Occasionally they do both. These urban documentaries have no stars, no characters and no plot. Their structure is borrowed from the movements and motifs of orchestral symphonies or the hours of the day, rather than the dynamics of narrative pacing.

At their most avant-garde, city symphonies are invigorating examples of pure cinema: movement and abstraction animated by the camera. At their most documentary in technique, city symphonies can be seen as the forerunner of slow cinema: minimalist in style, meticulous in observation.

The best known city symphony is Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927).

Berlin was created by some of the greatest names in German silent cinema. Its avant-garde director Walter Ruttmann, screenwriter Carl Mayer and cinematographer Karl Freund all share credits for the screenplay.

Ruttmann cut the film which is important as city symphonies are shaped by the edit as much as the screenplay. The musical score was written by Edmund Meisel, who also provided music for Battleship Potemkin (1925).

Berlin typifies the city symphony in many ways, from its strict day-in-the-life structure to its emphasis on the fast pace and anonymity of urban living.

The film runs for just over an hour and if you don’t have time to watch it from start to finish it’s worth dipping into at different points to get a feel for it and the genre.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

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Book of the Day at with details of a free Kindle download.