A tip of the hat to one-of-a-kind conductor Sir Thomas Beecham
Among the musical notables born on April 29 was Sir Thomas Beecham (in 1879), and 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of his death. So that's reason a-plenty to give him a little salute here.
Beecham enjoyed nearly as much fame for his wit as for his incandescent music-making. Just a few examples of Beecham quips: “There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between.” "A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it." Addressed to a female cellist during an orchestral rehearsal: “Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you can do is scratch it.”
Beecham's ability to shape a score with an ear for a singing line and refined instrumental coloring should not be forgotten. He had something, that's for sure, and it's always rewarding to spend some time exploring his legacy. Here's a taste -- newsreel footage of Beecham introducing the London Philharmonic with a dash of Tchaikovsky (from the absurdly under-appreciated Symphony No. 3); a radio broadcast (introduced by Lionel Barrymore) of a charming piece by Delius; and a segment from a documentary that includes interviews and a rehearsal of ballet music from Gounod's "Faust."