Lebrecht: Prommers Ruin the Proms
Here's a classic rant from Norman Lebrecht to help continue the conversation in the season pass thread about Arena newcomers, unwritten rules, and how "welcoming" the Front Row clique is to daytrippers, young people, and other interlopers:
NORMAN LEBRECHT: PROMMERS RUIN THE PROMS
"It is the phalanx 525 every-nighters who constitute the problem. They form an elite at the heart of the Proms, an aging praetorian guard whose dominance of the arena actively deters the young and curious. They brandish resentment at the seated majority and squatters' rights at the BBC, asserting a spurious ownership of 'their' Proms."
Although the tone of this piece is jaw-droppingly vitriolic--and curiously personal-- I think he makes quite a few points worth considering. I'll save my comments for later...any thoughts?
I've never been an "elite prommer" (NB must have a HUGE chip in his shoulder), but I've met a number of them, and they have all been welcoming and friendly on the few occasions when I've made to the front of the arena. As for "unwritten rules", someone has to make a few, 'cos the ushers, Roger Wright and the hall management don't seem to have got their act together.
Another pointless polemic from the master of the same.
Restricting available Prom tickets to the 'under 30s' is straightforward Facism, as far as I'm concerned.
Thank God no-one - and I mean NO-ONE - takes Lebrecht seriously.
Sorry but that is an absurd view! Mr. Lebrecht is England's most eminent and accurate living critic. We wonder whether any of those who write about him thus have ever opened his magnificent Complete Companion to Twentieth-Century Music. Only the other day we were for instance reading therein what he says about Grainger the Antipodean man:
Originally Posted by Mandryka
"He wasted a modest compositional talent on pianistic miniatures and orchestrations of folk songs. He treated jolly country frolics with utmost solemnity . . . "
How we wish we could write as well and succinctly as that! We have the greatest respect for everything he says.
There are those who do take Mr Lebrecht seriously, although I suspect that hey are realtively few and far between, particularly as his principal purpose in life appears to be to draw attention to himself and his writings which are for the most part shot through with more slickness than substance. Every now and then, he puts his finger on something that requires due consideration and he writes with penetrating intelligence, a fact which make it all the most dispiritingly galling that such examples are as an oasis in a desert of largely platitudinous attention-seeking. He has a neat style, to be sure but, again, it is the style that usually triumphs over substance. His remarks that you quote above about Grainger (who, incindentally, was part Scots and part Australian) are quite typical of his habit of resorting to pompous dismissal by choosing from his store of cheap one-liners; there's far more to Grainger than that!
Originally Posted by Sydney Grew
"England's most eminent and accurate living critic"? That, I am bound to say, really "is an absurd view"! It would surely be very difficult if not impossible to "take seriously" anyone who evaluated Mr Lebrecht as a living English(?!) critic above the likes of Arnold Whittall or Paul Griffiths; one has only to trawl through a random selection of NL's Scena Musicale rants for the differences to become glaringly obvious - and let us not forget that this is the man who has for years been braying about the death of the classical music recording industry in a climate in which BBC, record reviewing journals and such like have continued to receive ever-increasing numbers of new releases.
The point here is that NL does indeed have a way with words, but he uses it as a weapon for his own ends - possibly attention seeking. I frequently bash Alison Graham, a critic from RadioTimes, who adopts precisely the same techniques. Fortunately, there are still responsible critics out there.
Originally Posted by Sydney Grew
I'd forgotten this ridiculous article. Lebrecht never let's the facts get in the way of a good rant. I forget what the count of basic factual inaccuracies was, and I'm not going to reread it. Ruth Elleson wrote a great letter to the Standard at the time pointing out most of its flaws. Mind you, back then she (and I) were actually under 30. Last year was the first time in donkeys years that season tickets actually sold out before the start of the season. In the days when a season ticket was actually a book of tickets and you could resell the nights you couldn't go yourself then there was an issue. Several people I know started promming in the gallery because it was impossible to get arena tickets.
He also fails to consider the sea change in student life. Where once you'd have found a number of students among the ranks of season ticket holders, you're now more likely to find them in a red jacket, working their way through the summer as a steward to pay off their debts. If the idiocies of Lebrecht are the worst you can come up with...
Last edited by David Underdown; 02-06-11 at 11:15.
Reason: Missing word
David, you have an even better command of the English language than Norman L., and what you write makes sense.
And just to show how little Lebrecht changes, in a recent blog he claims that the fact that Mahan Esfahani is doing a solo chamber prom at Cadogan is entirely down to Lebrecht. Obviously the fact that Esfahani is a former BBC New Generation Artist, who performed in the series of concerts at Cadogan two seasons ago in the Chamber proms celebrating the scheme is completely irrelevant. Oh, and Lebrecht couldn't even spell Esfahani correctly, and didn't even acknowledge the error whenit was pointed out to him (or correct it)
Ahem . . .
Originally Posted by David Underdown