Schubert has long been my favourite composer. My CD collection of his works was already substantial before the "Spirit of Schubert" began. My knowledge of Schubert's life, his music, the times he lived in, the musical influences upon him and his legacy to other composers, was also quite respectable. I've also been to Vienna a couple of times and have made "pilgrimages" to all the Shubert shrines, including of course his grave where I have stood in awe for a good half hour or so.
Although I therefore had relatively to little to gain from the latest R3 series, I was still strongly drawn to listen to as many of the programmes as I could. When it was inconvenient to do so, I recorded them, and have also made use of the i-player. I can't say that I learned much of any significance about Schubert's music or his life that I didn't already know. That's because there is a vast amount of information about Schubert on the internet that is quite easily available for anyone, like me, who may be sufficiently interested to explore.
The main use I made of the series was to fill a few gap in my collection of material that isn't easily available, or where the quality was low and I was able to improve upon it by acquiring a fresh, studio version taht was specially commissioned, e.g some of the lieder as performed by the excellent Graham Johnson and his various colleagues throughout the week, or the specially commissioned fragments of piano solo that would otherwise not exist. Overall, I enjoyed the 8 days and thought it was worthwhile. Likewise, I enjoyed the similar event for Mozart in January 2011, which extended over 12 days. My belief that Schubert is among the super-greats of classical music was hardly impaired by the experience of the 8 days. However, I can't say that I enjoyed every aspect of the series. Apart from the filing in of a few gaps in my collection, the bits I liked the most were hearing the tributes paid by various well-known performers and musicologists. I especially valued all the contributions of Brian Newbould, who gave some highly informative opinions and technical information about Schubert's works.
On the contrary, the various "Schubert labs" didn't inspire me, and I found them mostly quite tedious. However the bits I hated the most were the over-use of those adverts for the series by the woman with the daft voice, and even more so the "tweets" and the "Franz is unwell" reactions. I really thought that all that was quite stupid, and sometimes demeaning. I also found that there was too much variety of music in some programmes, hopping from lieder, to chamber, to snippets of orchestral music, which was quite confusing at times. I didn't think that some of the lunchtime Shubertiads were all that well performed. I also had problems with some of the presenters, but I usually do anyway with the same people so there was nothing new here. In particular I found Tom Service and S-M-P quite OTT most of the time, wittering away in competition with each saying nothing in particular just a load of hot air, especially on the last evening.
All in all, I think it went on for too long. I reckon that a 5-day event would have been sufficient to do justice to Schubert. I thought the same after the even longer 12 day marathon concerning Mozart last year.
I just had to use the iplayer to check where the odd playlist was absent for my survey(about 1,200 chunks and complete works were played). Sadly I caught the odd trailer etc, they were vomit inducing. If R3 are going to do this sort of thing it should be over a long weekend and a composer contemporaries (both well-known and less well-known) and those they influenced, should also be included, so we can hear a composer's music in context show its importance in musical history. 9 days non stop of one composer is lazy programming, stupid and doesn't do a composer any favours at all, but what else would you expect from RW?
Radio3 should always be broadcasting rare works alongside more mainstream works. It should always be inviting experts for insightful talks instead of interviewing randomly chosen cook and cricketer. It should be doing this as the norm and not as a special event by forsaking the entire classical music for the sake of one composer.
My collection of CDs is very small and I depend on Radio3 to hear music of different kinds (I prefer not have to listen online). No matter how interesting some Shubert-related programmes might have been, I have been deprived of the pleasure of listening to music by any other composers for over a week.
BBC may boast that only Rado3 can mount an event of this kind. This is probably true but that is because Radio3 has the monopoly of broadcasting classical music without advertisements. Would BBC have done this if there had been another radio station in the UK that had the same function?
This should not be a banner to cover up all the problems of Radio3 we have been pointing out for years.
I caught the odd half hour here and there over the week (including that embarassing interview by S M-P with Gyles Brandreth where he admitted to not liking the composer) but it only served to confirm my life-long opinion that Schubert isn't in my top 10 of composers. And I can't believe that shovelling 8 whole days of non-stop Schubert is anything except detrimental to the composer and R3 itself. Naturally there will be those for whom Schubert is no.1 and will have been delighted by the wall-to-wall coverage but one has to ask them if they would also like 8 days of
A) Schoenberg, Berg and Webern
B) English "pastoral" (i.e. first half of 20th century) school of music - VW, Finzi, Butterworth et al
C) Serialist composers of the last half of the 20th century
Indeed some might argue that any of the three options offered above would at least amount to something bordering on intelligent programming in terms of placing musical development within a cultural and historical context but it would be just too much. One plate of foie gras is quite enough, serving it up at every meal day after day with no variation...
Others - even those totally devoted to Schubert - have mentioned the vapid self-puffery and one wonders just what kind of thought process is in place at R3 which believes that this is what the listeners want. It would appear to be a direct copy of CFM's style.
Well, there we are. I have learnt to live without R3 for a week and not unexpectedly find that I can locate a wider choice of musical experience elsewhere. I only hope that the new listeners brought in by the Schubertathon will outnumber those who have drifted off elsewhere but somehow I think that may not be the case.
O Wort, du Wort, das mir Fehlt!
Actually, B-o-D, that does capture a nuance which could be explored on the second poll.
There is an awful lot of difference between those who didn't listen because they don't like Schubert and those who didn't listen because they love Schubert (and really wanted something quite different from this).
For me, loving Schubert's music, the programme just seemed so overwhelming I couldn't be bothered to study the whole schedule to pick out what, as a stand-alone programme, might be valuable.
To come out with yet another gastronomic cliché, being presented with a huge plate of food, piled high, puts you off eating altogether.
Well, that's the purpose of the polls - to investigate what I said in the OP were the utter extremes! . I can understand both extremes. But I'm personally only positioned at one end!With respect, I find this an extraordinary view.
And, more importantly, it has the money.BBC may boast that only Rado3 can mount an event of this kind. This is probably true but that is because Radio3 has the monopoly of broadcasting classical music without advertisements.
Last edited by french frank; 02-04-12 at 09:35. Reason: Forgot which thread I was on ...
Well it worked for me, much to my surprise.
Principally, it was a reacquaintance with his Lieder, having spent some time studying them in the past but these days listening to other types of music. And I eventually overcame my reservations about Graham Johnson's rather boring voice intonation, and decided he probably knows more about lieder than anyone else in UK.
I think that being locked up with Schubert for over a week was possibly the only way that my ears could have been realigned to his music.
But for me it was a one off, and I don't expect it to happen again. Now it's back to the future, with the late night programmes back on-line.
what really ... disturbed me, were the attempts to produce / provoke a communal experience of Emotion with a capital E. What really disgusted me (exactly how I felt about it) was this https://twitter.com/#!/FranzIsUnwell. Perhaps it's me, but I don't like the idea of the people who came up with that and of the people who participated in that.
Retrospectively the way the thing was done, the weirdly coercive character of the presentation, the mix of post-'collegiate' fun / cleverness and schmaltz has had a deterrent effect on me: I wouldn't, now, casually listen to Radio 3. I wouldn't listen unless I'd a strong reason to; maybe some mainstream concerts if I'm especially interested in the performers and Hear & Now if and when there's music I want to listen to there. I have good access to music other than on Radio 3 and I know others don't, so I can afford the strength of reaction.
A) The whole exercise and thinking about a "thon"
B) The style and presentation associated with it.
I'd hazard a guess that B is the far more damaging of the two in that it presages more of the same to come. Keeping an eye on R3's Facebook page generally gives the tenor of how the production team are thinking and undoubtedly the post-collegiate "fun" as JS mentions above is part and parcel of the mix. Those who have been antagonistic to the "thon" have been able to express their dislike for the exercise but their resident pit-bull attack dog "cavatina", late of these boards, has regularly posted what some might call quite vicious personal messages against them describing them as old fogeys. Steve B, a R3 producer, would appear to be quite happy with this kiind of language, adding his own put down of those opposed, calling them the "grumpies".
O Wort, du Wort, das mir Fehlt!
If the presenters of these 'thons' have a downgrading patronising style , surely well, for me, at any rate, put them of tuning into R3 permanantly(which is what i am thinking of doing!)
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life(Berthold Auerbach)