This book by Richard Aldous is much more than a biography of the British conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent. It offers a broad picture of a fascinating period in Twentieth century music in this country and adds a shrewd assessment of social and class attitudes in Britain. Sargent was an enormously popular figure with the public but was resented and even hated by many orchestral musicians as a martinet and a snob. He was also keenly disliked by some in the British musical establishment as someone who had risen from a working class background to achieve a social and professional position they felt was not his due. Aldous offers an objective, sympathetic and entertaining view of Sargent's life and times, and adds a fresh and often critical perspective on a number of revered figures, including St Thomas, St John and St Adrian (among sainted British conductors) as well as other personalities, which some readers may find border on the heretical. A terrific read!
This is an interesting and well researched and written book and its assessment of Sargent's virtues and vices seems generally fair. But many of the other main players have their reputations trashed wholesale and this eventually becomes tedious. The indexing is helpfully done but a discography would have been appreciated.
Growing up with Malcolm Sargent as one of my heroes , it was good to read this detailed biography. I much appreciated the book, which brought back so many memories. The man who started my love of classical, and choral music. A must read for any music lover