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Showing 1-25 of 37 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 25 Feb 2012 21:35:13 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
Looking at the new batch of releases including ones from SIR Roger Norrington, SIR Mark Elder, SIR John Elliot Gardiner - how come on God's good earth was Vernon Handley never knighted - did anyone else of his generation do as much for British music? Was it that he just didn't quite fit in and if that is the case how objective is the whole honours system?!
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Posted on 25 Feb 2012 21:58:03 GMT
I suspect this was due to an oversight rather than to a specific decision not to honour him. Tod Handley had zero airs and graces (not something which could necessarily be said for those others you mention) and may simply have slipped under the Honours Committee's radar.

Posted on 25 Feb 2012 22:15:39 GMT
Roasted Swan says:
how I wish I could believe that!

Posted on 25 Feb 2012 22:41:58 GMT
I have read a number of times that Vaughan Williams was offered a knighthood at least twice but declined. Is it possible this happened to Mr. Handley as well? Just curious - I really have no idea, and in any case I'm not a Brit so it isn't a topic I know much about, but I too have occasionally wondered about certain glaring "omissions" - Edmund Rubbra and Harry Blech come to mind immediately, and there are others....

Posted on 25 Feb 2012 22:56:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 25 Feb 2012 22:59:53 GMT
Edgar Self says:
But who would not want to be in the lists with Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Paul McCartney? I liked it better when Henry Wood, Adrian Boult, Thomas Beecham, Malcolm Sargent, and John Barbirolli were the musical knights, and "Flash Harry" was doubtful enough even then.

Posted on 25 Feb 2012 23:58:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2012 00:00:15 GMT
Bella says:
I'm fairly cynical about public recognition, being convinced that a lot of politicking goes on.

Posted on 26 Feb 2012 01:32:55 GMT
Lez Lee says:
From Wiki:

"Handley received numerous awards, such as The Gramophone magazine's Special Achievement Award in 2003 for services to British Music (sparking a "Nod for Tod" honours campaign); and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Classical BRIT Awards on 3 May 2007 at the Royal Albert Hall. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours (having declined appointment as an Officer of the order in 1988)."

As he declined an OBE, perhaps it was thought he'd decline a knighthood.
Friends of mine knew him quite well (gardening connections) and always said he was very friendly and unassuming.

Posted on 26 Feb 2012 11:34:07 GMT
I knew Vernon Handley had declined one lesser honour (didn't know about the 2004 CBE)and always assumed that is why he was never knighted. His recorded legacy is vastly more important than any honour or title.

Piso: Beecham inherited his title, the others were knighted for their services to music. Sir John Barbirolli was also made a Companion of Honour.

Benjamin Britten was given a peerage because Edward Heath wanted to raise the profile of classical music and give it a voice in the House of Lords; I am not sure how sucessful a move this was.

Posted on 26 Feb 2012 18:05:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 26 Feb 2012 18:05:54 GMT
Dredging my memory on the basis of this thread, I suddenly realized that I hadn't even known Handley had died!! Shows you how much attention I pay sometimes....

But in looking around for info. I came across the following, the "Guardian" obit from Sept. 2008, which if you hadn't seen it (or had forgotten what it said) would be worth a few minutes for a retrospective. Beautifully written.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 14:23:18 GMT
Paul B says:
Geoffrey. You can't inherit a Knighthood. Beecham inherited his Baronetcy from his father, but his Knighthood was given by George V in 1916.



Posted on 27 Feb 2012 14:34:40 GMT
Thanks Paul, perhaps I should have said he inherited his title.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 14:46:59 GMT
Paul B says:
Thats alright Geoffrey. Beecham was knighted for his services to British music, (and at a rather appropriate time in history too), just as Vernon Handley most certainly should have been latterly.


Posted on 27 Feb 2012 14:49:26 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2012 14:50:05 GMT
Paul, in fact he was knighted just a few months before he inherited his title (I have just found out!). I wasn't previously aware of the knighthood.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 15:33:16 GMT
Paul B says:
As a youngster I well remember sneaking LPs out of my fathers record cabinet to play on my "Phillips disc jockey major" whilst he was out at work, and I always wonderd why the old gentleman pictured sniffing a rose on the sleeve called himself Sir Thomas Beecham, Bart, C.H.


Posted on 27 Feb 2012 16:04:02 GMT
I have various Beecham recordings, all bearing the name Sir Thomas Beecham, Bart. (or Bt.) so I always assumed that he only had an inherited title. I was puzzled by your posting as a knighthood seemed a bit of a redundancy. The knighthood came first by a few months.

There seems to be too many in the current crop of musical knights but I wouldn't want to say (with one exception) why any particular one shouldn't have the honour (assuming that it means anything at all these days).

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 16:07:41 GMT
OK, I'll bite. Who's the exception and why?

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 16:26:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Feb 2012 17:30:28 GMT
Paul B says:
Sir Simon by any chance? (I could never work that one out.) Sir JEG?

(....and you can't be a Sir Thomas without a Knighthood!)


Posted on 27 Feb 2012 17:55:45 GMT
I'll just leave you to choose your own particular un-favourite. It is neither of the two mentioned above. Two of the best live concerts I have ever attended were conducted by Simon rattle (as he then was) - Rachmaninov 2 with the LPO and Mahler 6 with the Philharmonia. The worst professional concert I have ever attended was conducted by own special un-favourite conductor - I have mentioned it in these pages.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 18:40:34 GMT
Malx says:
Geoffrey, for those of us who are very new to the forum please let us know who your "special un-favourite conductor" is.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Feb 2012 20:44:04 GMT
Edgar Self says:
I hpe that Geoffrey's unfavourite conductor isn't Sir Colin Davis. I saw him a few seasons ago, whenm he was "only" 80, with the London Symphony nd Paul Davis in Beethoven's fourth concerto and a good "Eroica" symphony.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 21:21:28 GMT
If it had been Rattle I'd have agreed wholeheartedly. Orchestras seem to like him, but I'm afraid I find him and too many of his interpretations precious in entirely the wrong sense. The only exception I've ever come across is his accompaniment of Alfred Brendel in the Beethoven concertos, where Brendel's objectivity provides an effective counterweight.

Posted on 28 Feb 2012 09:47:28 GMT
Paul B says:
Of course your chances of a knighthood as a conductor have no bearing whatsoever on the quality of your musicianship. Honours are usually justified for other reasons like charity work.

I just thought the two I hinted at were nothing special in a musical sense :-)

Harry. Precious is exactly the right word, and I know exactly what you mean!

Posted on 28 Feb 2012 10:09:25 GMT
I have nothing but admiration for the three conductors mentioned above.

I have numerous recordings by Sir Colin Davis, many going back to LP days. Hearing him conduct the Berlioz Requiem in St Pauls Cathedral was one of the great musical events of my life.

As I said above I greatly admire Sir Simon Rattle for his live performances; a superb Janacek Glagolitic Mass can be added to the concerts I mentioned in the previous posting. I have reservations about some of his Mahler recordings though I don't find the word 'precious' appropriate at all.

I have less experience of live Gardiner but have numerous of his recordings from Monteverdi through to the 20th Century; the only one of his recordings that has ever disappointed was his Handel Messiah.

Posted on 28 Feb 2012 10:23:58 GMT
Paul B says:
Going off topic a bit, but as a prime example of "precious" I'd recommend Rattle's nausea inducing Vienna Beethoven choral. Only try it the once mind, and you'll need another version, Wands perhaps, to use as an antidote immediately afterwards!

Posted on 28 Feb 2012 10:36:52 GMT
I haven't heard Rattle's Vienna Beethoven 9 so I can't comment. I have recordings by him in Mahler, Liszt, Brahms, Britten, Janacek, Szymanowski, Sibelius, Nielsen and probably others. Some have disappointed but none have nauseated.
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Initial post:  25 Feb 2012
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