I Still Recall Spending A Magical Twenty Minutes Chatting With Robert Farnon
Says BRIAN JOHNSTONE
I have been so used to the drop of Journal Into Melody on the mat, that its demise is sad, but can it be perpetuated by the internet?
Although the first orchestras I heard were George Melachrino and Sidney Torch, I eventually went to the Classical Camp. A later starter on the violin at 14½, Karajan, Klemperer became my bill of fare as a teenager with the Philharmonia. As a R.A.M. student the whole pageant of classical music flashed before me.
But I had not forgotten the Light Music I listened to so carefully on the BBC from when I was about eight: Ivor Novello, going on to Frederic Curzon and Ernest Tomlinson.
When I became a freelance in 1960 in London, my first date was with Eartha Kitt at the Café de Paris, Mozart Requiem at Putney Church, and leading the Stock Exchange Orchestra in rehearsal on the floor of the old Lonbdon Stock Exchange.
Two dates came in with Robert Farnon. I immediately loved his music and the man. However I joined the Bournemouth Symphony with Constantin Silvestri. He was so different and challenging, quite unlike Boult, Barbirolli, Wyn Morris, Norman del Mar, etc.
In the mid-1970s the Bournemouth Symphony played the opening concert at the Bournemouth International Centre with four visiting conductors including Robert Farnon. I was amazed no one seemed to be talking to him; perhaps didn’t know him. I sat down and had a wonderful 20 minutes one to one talk with Bob.
By that time I was in the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, which before its axing in 1999 did several Light Music concerts with Ronald Corp, and another with a Romanian Nicolae Moldoveanu, who had a wonderful feel for British Light Music; these concerts were very memorable.
I have read and re-read JIM for the last 20 years or more - so interesting and packed with information. In all my years of Classical playing I often warmed up before going on with Bob’s Goodwood Galop, before, say, a Beethoven Symphony!
Thank-you David. A sad farewell to JIM.
This article appeared in Journal Into Melody, December 2013.