Magazine article The Spectator

Eclectic Taste

Magazine article The Spectator

Eclectic Taste

Article excerpt

Stephen Fry was on jovial form when he appeared on Private Passions on Radio Three on Boxing Day, approaching music with an unstuffy blend of reverence and dislike. He told the presenter Michael Berkeley that he'd had strong prejudices about music and hadn't been a fan of Baroque music. But listening to it for a series he'd presented on Classic FM and a book he'd written called Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music, he felt better disposed towards it; he thought he'd learnt a lot throughout.

Interestingly, he said he always felt more moved by happiness than by sadness and so his first choice was Beethoven's Egmont Overture. It was a piece that always cheered him up, 'redolent of sunshine bursting through'. His taste is eclectic because he next chose one of his schoolboy favourites, a satirical track from the late Vivian StanshalFs Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, which later influenced the Monty Python television series. It reminded him of the Sixties, and what he liked most about that decade was that, unlike the Seventies, it didn't take itself too seriously. After a piece from Mozart's Magic Flute it was on to 'A Walk in the Black Forest' by Herb Alpert and Tijuana Brass which, although it could be seen as being naff, he thought was rather beautifully put together. Afterwards he wondered why it was called that as 'there's nothing black or foresty about it all ... It's a skip to the icecream van, if anything.' He ended with a piece from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, having demonstrated quite a knowledge of music of different kinds.

In the same week, Mark Whitaker explored how King Wenceslas got into the Christmas carol of his name, in Who Was Wenceslas and Who Decided He Was Good? on Radio Four (Wednesday). He rather breezed through the history of the 10th-century Bohemian duke credited with bringing Christianity to the hitherto pagan Bohemia, who, for his pains, was murdered by his brother to become the patron saint of the Czech Republic. His statue erected in the long square named after him in Prague has certainly seen some momentous events: the declaration of the republic in 1918, the Soviet invasion of the late Sixties and the start of the Velvet Revolution in the late Eighties that ended communist rule there. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.