The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, Directed by Billy Wilder, 1970

I have a lot of toasty warm affection for this underrated movie (which I saw second-run in Minneapolis the summer before I started music school), not least because of Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa‘s score, which he based on his Violin Concerto op. 24, and on which I’ve based my story, The Rosza Concerto.

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Robert Stephens as the great detective and Genevieve Page as his latest client. Yes, that’s Sherlock Holmes embracing a beautiful, nude, warm and willing woman while attempting to keep his cool.

This is Austrian-born Wilder and Romanian-born Diamond at their best, examining—through impish Hollywood eyes, of course—that weird combination of emotional reticence and superciliousness that makes English men just sooo attractive. Their great detective, however, turns out in the end (not to give anything away) to be a lonely man, unsophisticated, profoundly vulnerable, and something of a loser. Stephens’ highly original performance makes this my favorite Holmes of all.

Here’s the trailer from the latest theatrical re-release of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. It’s also now on Amazon Prime in entirety.

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An Evening of Eric Coates, Played by the BBC Philharmonic and Conducted by John Wilson, Salford, 8 January 2019

After he finishes his JWO At the Movies gig touring the isle with his eponymous orchestra, cracking waaay off-the-beam jokes between numbers about sexual mores in Now, Voyager (Glasgow’s The Herald deems his whippersnapper remarks “camp wit”!) and playing Fred Astaire’s ballet number from The Bandwagon in order to pay tribute to Gene Kelly(!), my bonny gets back to business in Salford performing and recording a program of Eric Coates: The Merrymakers Overture; The Jester at the Wedding Suite, “Dancing Night”; Ballad for Strings; “I Heard You Singing” from 2 Symphonic Rhapsodies; and for the last number, London Everyday Suite (and you know what that means! It means “Knightsbridge”!! That farkochta earworm I can’t get out of my head!!!) Now for goodness’ sakes John, just play the music and ditch the fatuous pronouncements and the wisecracking. You’re at your best when you’re a musician and not some cheap showman.

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At his best: John conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 2 (“London”), Birmingham, 2014.

Harriet Cohen Plays Cornish Rhapsody by Hubert Bath, Featured in the 1944 Film, Love Story

Margaret Lockwood is a dying pianist, Stewart Granger is an RAF pilot going blind in this wartime romance from Gainsborough Pictures.

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Legendary pianist, anti-fascist activist and muse to Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others Harriet Cohen at the piano here. “Cornish Rhapsody” was written by Hubert Bath (who also wrote, for all you English sports fans, “Out of the Blue” for the BBC5 Sports Report).

Tintagel by Arnold Bax, Played by the London Symphony Orchestra and Conducted by Sir John Barbirolli

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Between 1910 and 1920 Bax wrote a large amount of music, including the symphonic poem Tintagel, his best-known work. During this period he formed a lifelong association with the legendary pianist Harriet Cohen—at first an affair, then a friendship and, always, a close professional relationship. In the 1920s he began the series of seven symphonies which form the heart of his orchestral output, and in 1942 was appointed Master of the King’s Music.

My beloved John Wilson conducted this in Sydney in 2016.

Joan Sutherland Sings a Song by Composer William Shield, Local Swalwell Lad Made Good

Dame Joan was the one who got me interested in classical singing, if not doing it myself then listening to and appreciating it. This really tasty ditty comes from the pen of William Shield of Swalwell, Gateshead, who rose to be the king’s Master of the Musicians and was buried in Westminster. From his comic opera Rosina (1782).

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End Title Music from Waterland by Carter Burwell

After all these years I’m still so steamed at Steve I forget how beautiful his movie and how achingly beautiful the music is.

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To get a glimpse of Steve’s movie starring Jeremy Irons, read my post on Waterland below. PS 8 January 2019: I posted, then just as quickly removed, a pretty snarky photo of Steve just now. Can’t keep beating my fists on his chest, he’s gone, completely gone…body, mind, spirit, everything

“La Valse” by Maurice Ravel, Played by the Orchestre National de France, Conducted by Leonard Bernstein

I haven’t got the date for this concert but Bernstein’s hair is silvery so I’ll guess it’s from the late 80s.

Ravel described his work:

Through whirling clouds, waltzing couples may be faintly distinguished. The clouds gradually scatter: one sees at letter A an immense hall peopled with a whirling crowd. The scene is gradually illuminated. The light of the chandeliers bursts forth at the fortissimo letter B. Set in an imperial court, about 1855.”

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Bonny John conducted this very piece about two weeks ago at his old school, the Royal College of Music, and spoke about Ravel (as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams) in this podcast. He said “La Valse” is about social disintegration. O-kay…

Thanks to Mark Doran for pointing me to his posting comparing Ravel’s piano score of “La Valse” to his, Ravel’s, own orchestration. Part 2 to follow…