Saturday, 12 June 2010


The boy Ivor Gurney in 1905 and the only photo of him with a smile.

A taxi driver chatted to me on my way back to the hotel after the big 'Finals' evening. It transpired that he was from Tyneside, had given up plumbing and heating engineering to cab in the city. Then he dropped the bombshell.............I work 4 weeks on and then go abroad for 2 weeks. I stammered a bit and said something along the lines of 'You have a house in France then?' to which he chuckled and said he preferred to tour the world, and in a couple of weeks he was 3 days in Las Vegas, a week in San Fransisco and finally a fews days in New York. Do you get away often he joshed in a smiley sort of way. No, I said. I don't.

On the way home I almost bought a taxi cab.

I think the sort of teaching I do, and that my teacher did and that most of my teaching pupils do is much more vocational than for real monetary return. All my teaching life there have been many pupils in need, and whom I could never have stopped teaching on financial grounds. The need, and the want in driven young people is just too great for me to resist. If they are hungry for music I am willing to go to any lengths to give them as much nourishment as possible. I will never be rich, but I will be happy and fulfilled.

I heard a young lady in the Vocal Challange Final who sang so beautifully and with such artistry the hush in the Cowdray Hall was deafening. She sang one of the many setting of the words Spring the Sweet Spring, words by Thomas Nashe 1567 - 1601, music by Ivor Gurney. It is the last in the Song Cycle called Five Elizabethan Songs, most often known as the '5 Elizas'. Some of you may know number 4, called Sleep. He composed these songs in the winter of 1913, under the gathering storm of the first world war. A few months later he volunteered for military duty...and go to :

if you have the time, and read the life story of this remarkable man, who suffered so much mental illness, and wrote such incredibly beautiful songs.

The 18 year old soprano sang with such delicacy and what gave me goosepimples, was her love for the words. I teach a young man at the moment who also cares a great deal for the poetry, and for me that is often the mark of the singer. We all need to remember when we are wallowing in our lovely sound (!) that the poem came first, the music only lives because the words were born.

Now where can I pick up a cheap secondhand taxi.........................

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