08 June 2011

Inside my brain (and Wigmore Hall)

    
I listen to a lot of BBC Radio 3 online.

Recently on a live broadcast from Wigmore Hall they played a recorded program (programme) during the extended intermission (interval) about the history of the hall. The jewel-box recital hall is celebrating its 110th birthday this year. With about 540 seats and a small stage it is the most amazing place to hear solo recitals and chamber music concerts.




It looks like the kind of place that Helen Schlegel might have frequented.



It started off as a recital space/showroom for Bechstein pianos. (You really should follow that link, they have a beautiful flash intro page.) The same anti-German sentiment at the outbreak of World War I that caused the Hanover/Saxe-Coburg-Gotha sitting on the British throne to change the Royal Family's name to Windsor, also caused Bechstein Hall to be renamed Wigmore Hall.




Bechstein is still one of the gems of the piano world (along with Steinway, Bosendorfer, and Fazioli). For a charming, wonderful read on the world of pianos, you really should check out one of my favorite books The The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart.



I have spent many a happy hour at Wigmore Hall enjoying all kinds of wonderful recitals. Back in 1997 during an open house I even got the chance to take my place on stage. For a minute I made believe that my undergraduate minor in vocal performance had turned into a life of international concertizing.



7 comments:

  1. Thomas, I was so excited to read the opening line in your post! I became a Radio 3 fan while living in the UK (several years ago now), and am so happy I can still listen online. You're the first American I've met who is also a fan (well, not including my husband ...) Even our UK friends used to look at us like we had two heads sometimes.

    I'd love to hear more about your favorite programmes. Early Music Show? In Tune? Jazz Record Requests? Composer of the Week?

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  2. I actually used to listen to radio 7 which ran all the old BBC dramas. I think that's the right number. Thanks for this post. This is just the kind of site I like to visit when travelling. I hope you did sing a few bars at least when you were on stage.

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  3. My piano teacher gave me 'Piano Shop on the Left Bank' when I was (gulp) 14 years old...It really stuck with me. Magical!

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  4. You were an undergrad voice major - that explains the overlap of our references! I'll be in London (and Glyndebourne) in a couple of weeks. What's your fav bookstores in the big city?

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  5. Laura: It is a great resource isn't it? Here is DC the announcers on the classical music station kind of annoy me. I grew up in Minnesota where I still think they have the best public radio network in the country and I sometimes listen to them online. www.mpr.org

    But I think Radio 3 is particularly good at inegrating music-related information and the music itself. Plus I love all of the broadcasts of regional concerts and the in-studio performances with Sean Rafferty. Minnesota Public Radio used to have something called St. Paul Sunday Morning where they had really fine studio performances and discusssion with chamber musicians. I wonder if that still exists?

    CB: Radio 7. I will have to check that out. Sounds like it could be fun. No I didn't sing a few bars. I was definitely out of singing trim at the time.

    Daniel: I wish I had had piano lessons. Probably one of the reasons I love the book so much.

    Ted: I was a major for a while, but the theory side of it really kicked my butt so I ended up with just a minor (and a history major). Favorite bookstores in London? For new books I would say Daunt. The original is on Marleybone High Street (and near the fabulous Wallace Collection and the Royal Academy of Music where they have good student performances, and of course it is not far from Wigmore Hall). I also really like Primrose Hill Books, but if you aren't already in the neighborhood, you might want to skip that. For second hand books I don't feel like I have properly found a favorite. I like the tables they set up under the bridge near Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. I have Book Lover's Guide to London which is a great way to explore.

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  6. I so agree with you about The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. It's a wonderful book.

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  7. I've noted your favorites and hope I can get there!

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