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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Here we are wallowing in navel-gazing/misery with the RCO topic, so I thought I'd try for something a bit more friendly. I remember three wonderful stories (I am 100% sure that I was) told by staff when I was at the RCM.

 

First of all, has anyone else heard them? Know any more facts?

 

Second, I love such accounts - similar stories gladly received in reply.

 

Story 1

One famous early 20th century hymn was not actually written by the composer stated (Percy Buck, if dim recollection is accurate) but by him and three colleagues sitting in a railway carriage between London and Oxford - they wrote a line each, after the manner of a children's game.

 

Story 2

At the time that the great Hubert Parry was Director of the RCM, he continued to compose during the college day. When called from his desk to some official duty he was in the habit of passing the current score to his secretary (a man, if memory serves) who then proceeded to continue to compose in Parry's absence. Where the secretary's work was thought good enough by C.H.H.P. on his return, it was allowed to remain in the score.

 

Story 3

During his time as Professor of Music at Cambridge, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford fell out with the university authorities and, for a goodly period, he gave up going into the university at all. He fulfilled his duties in an original way - he would meet his students in the waiting room at Cambridge railway station and do all his teaching there.

 

 

One of my chief problems with these stories is that I have no quoteable authority for any of them....just wonderful memories which may (of course) be as distorted as anything else that gets into my brain. Doesn't stop me enjoying and repeating them, however.

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Guest Andrew Butler

Have heard the 3rd, but cannot vouch for accuracy.

 

It may well be apochryphal, but I heard (from a former acting Assistant to the gentleman in question) that a certain cathedral organist in the 20th c was looking for the loo in the interval during a recital he was giving somewhere, and thought he had found it but the lightbulb had blown. What he thought was a urinal was the mouth of a 16' pedal pipe. He commenced his 2nd 1/2 with the Bach Passacaglia, and the penultimate note of the theme statement came out as "blub-blub-blub-bub-blub-blub". Anyone else heard that one?

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The man who taught me to play the Organ had a book called Tales of Organists. It included such delights as the Organist's 23rd psalm ('The Ford is my car, I shall not want another ... it anointeth my head with oil ...' - I can't remember more) and the story of an old verger, much given to quoting the psalms. One day, helping put up the marquee for the Village Fete, something went wrong and he found himself buried under a great pile of canvas. When they pulled him out, he looked at the mess and said 'This lot has fallen on me in a fair ground'.

 

Well, I thought it was funny!

 

Regards to all

 

John

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The man who taught me to play the Organ had a book called Tales of Organists. It included such delights as the Organist's 23rd psalm ('The Ford is my car, I shall not want another ... it anointeth my head with oil ...' - I can't remember more)

 

 

Reminds me of the London bus drivers' prayer...

 

Our Father, who art in Hendon,

Harrow be thy name.

Thy Kingston come,

Thy Wimbledon,

In Erith as it is in Hendon

 

etc. etc.

 

 

I'll get my coat.....

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I always remember the story told by a well known organist who had to accompany a Mothers' Union Diocesan service on the Wurlitzer then in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The Bishop was to make a grand entrance, so the organist in question decided to use the snare drum followed by a big fanfare. The organist in question then erroneously missed the snare drum piston and the said Bishop made his grand entrance to "cuckoo - cuckoo - cuckoo" etc.

 

NS

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I always remember the story told by a well known organist who had to accompany a Mothers' Union Diocesan service on the Wurlitzer then in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The Bishop was to make a grand entrance, so the organist in question decided to use the snare drum followed by a big fanfare. The organist in question then erroneously missed the snare drum piston and the said Bishop made his grand entrance to "cuckoo - cuckoo - cuckoo" etc.

 

NS

 

Could have been worse - it could have been the Klaxon!

 

It is said that when Marcel Dupre played at Wimbledon Town Hall (quite a remarkable fact in itself) he missed the Great to Pedal to piston and hit the bird whistle instead....

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

A little vignette of a story as we approach the season of Wachet auf..........

 

An impassioned and charismatic preacher once fired the following question as his text to a large all-male congregation of (I think) a Cambridge College (Trinity?)

"Where would you all rather be; here, with the wise or outside with the foolish virgins?" (Matthew 25)

 

Chuckle.

 

Nigel

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John Scott-Whitley, as featured elsewhere on this board, has been assistant-organist at York since before time began, and when Jesus was but a twinkle in God's eye.

 

Some will recall the terrible fire which claimed the roof of the South Transept, which at the time was blamed not so much of lightning, but upon God "rewarding the proud after their deserving" following the dedication and enthronement of one Dr Ian Ramsey as Bishop of Durham, which for some obscure ecclesiastical reason, took place at York.

 

Being a man of liberal theological leanings, and something of an academic, the stage was set for a show-down between the then rival factions within the Anglican church: the liberal high churchmen and the evangelicals. (What happened to that rather lively discourse and mutual disrespect?)

 

On the day, there was a veritable posse of assembled hecklers and protestors, who gathered in their droves to greet the new bishop as he exited York Minster by the great west door.

 

Things didn't quite get to fisticuffs, but there was something of a scrum as the unfortunate bishop had to run the gauntlett of banners and verbal abuse.

 

As John Scott-Whiteley told me, "Well.....what else could I play as he left, but Mendelssohn's "War March of the Priests?"

 

:P

 

MM

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A little vignette of a story as we approach the season of Wachet auf..........

 

An impassioned and charismatic preacher once fired the following question as his text to a large all-male congregation of (I think) a Cambridge College (Trinity?)

"Where would you all rather be; here, with the wise or outside with the foolish virgins?"  (Matthew 25)

 

Chuckle.

 

Nigel

 

======================

 

What is a virgin?

 

:P

 

MM

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Guest delvin146
Here we are wallowing in navel-gazing/misery with the RCO topic, so I thought I'd try for something a bit more friendly.  I remember three wonderful stories (I am 100% sure that I was) told by staff when I was at the RCM.

 

First of all, has anyone else heard them? Know any more facts? 

 

Second, I love such accounts - similar stories gladly received in reply.

 

Story 1

One famous early 20th century hymn was not actually written by the composer stated (Percy Buck, if dim recollection is accurate) but by him and three colleagues sitting in a railway carriage between London and Oxford - they wrote a line each, after the manner of a children's game.

 

Story 2

At the time that the great Hubert Parry was Director of the RCM, he continued to compose during the college day.  When called from his desk to some official duty he was in the habit of passing the current score to his secretary (a man, if memory serves) who then proceeded to continue to compose in Parry's absence. Where the secretary's work was thought good enough by C.H.H.P. on his return, it was allowed to remain in the score.

 

Story 3

During his time as Professor of Music at Cambridge, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford fell out with the university authorities and, for a goodly period, he gave up going into the university at all. He fulfilled his duties in an original way - he would meet his students in the waiting room at Cambridge railway station and do all his teaching there.

One of my chief problems with these stories is that I have no quoteable authority for any of them....just wonderful memories which may (of course) be as distorted as anything else that gets into my brain.  Doesn't stop me enjoying and repeating them, however.

 

I know Roffensis has one about a Willis, but not sure he'd be prepared to put it on here, you'd have to ask him! :P

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Reminds me of the London bus drivers' prayer...

 

Our Father, who art in Hendon,

Harrow be thy name.

Thy Kingston come,

Thy Wimbledon,

In Erith as it is in Hendon

 

etc. etc.

I'll get my coat.....

 

Rather like the following railway themed hymn (to Holy, Holy, Holy)

 

Horley, Horley, Horley

Three Bridges

Crawley

 

A friend of mine would always look out for ways to change words around:

 

From "Lo ! He comes with clouds descending" - instead of Deeply Wailing, it is changed to Deep Sea Whaling

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Thou Who art beyond the farthest mortal eye can scan,

Can it be that Thou regardest songs of sinful man?

Can it be that Bob the Builder, can he fix it? Yes, he can.

 

 

We seem to be wandering off a little.

Here are a few more examples to get you back on target. Hope you don't mind.

 

Story 4

Apparently, while he was Master of the Music at St.George's Chapel, Windsor, Sir Walter Parratt trained his choir in some unorthodox vocal techniques. One was that only one boy (per side) was deputed to put the final consonants on the end of all phrases - all others were told to leave the consonant off altogether! Clever idea.... anyone like to give it a try?

Unusual techniques are still with us (not forgetting delvin's choir's deliberately unusual vowel sounds); New College Choir, Oxford have at least one unusual vocal habit: they sometimes sing very strange Amens in unaccompanied music. In case you've missed hearing these: they sing the word Amen quite normally up until the customary moment of release, which they then delay by humming an extra beat or so on the 'n' - to give an imitation acoustic effect!

 

Story 5

One day as an experiment either SirWP (as above) or a successor tried the 'newer' style of chanting the psalms and briefed the choir no longer to sing -ed as a separate syllable; for instance, climbed (one syllable) had previously always been climb-ed.

Anyway, when this was first done in front of royalty The King sent for him and demanded to know what had become of the '-eds' and requested their immediate reinstatement.

 

Story 6

Some years ago now, our present monarch was in St.Paul's and a fanfare was played on the (then) new West End Trumpets to mark her arrival. On being somewhat distracted by the resulting sound-effect, and having enquired exactly what had caused it, her opinion was made very clear on the matter, according to the account I heard, she said

'kindly ensure that they are never used in my presence again'.

 

Story 7

I don't know much about music, but I know what I like'. Not me, in this instance, but the sort of thing one donor could have said. It was certainly his opinion. The kind gent who came forward and paid for the whole of a new organ at Wisbech Parish Church in the first half of the last century had only two stipulations:

1. It had to be by Harrison and Harrison and

2. it had to be 'bloody loud'.

It was/is. Great fun, too. When we recorded it in 1999, we got as far away as possible (right into the recess by the West Door - the organ is at the East end of the South Aisle) even then one reviewer said we had recorded it much too close. They always know best don't they, critics?!

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Guest Andrew Butler

Mention of Windsor reminds me of a story I heard about William Harris playing a Bach fugue on a battery of 8' diapasons, and adding a 4' and mischievously muttering "Baroque"!

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Story 7

I don't know much about music, but I know what I like'. Not me, in this instance, but the sort of thing one donor could have said. It was certainly his opinion. The kind gent who came forward and paid for the whole of a new organ at Wisbech Parish Church in the first half of the last century had only two stipulations:

1. It had to be by Harrison and Harrison and

2. it had to be 'bloody loud'.

It was/is. Great fun, too. When we recorded it in 1999, we got as far away as possible (right into the recess by the West Door - the organ is at the East end of the South Aisle) even then one reviewer said we had recorded it much too close. They always know best don't they, critics?!

 

Wonderful!

 

It instantly reminds me of another story told by a theatre organist friend of mine who, on one of his fairly frequent jaunts to the U.S.A., found himself playing one of those enormous organs in a not-too-large building with not-too-efficient swell shutters.

 

During the interval when he was outside an exit door exercising his lungs on a packet of Bensons he was taken to task by a large and loud local who yelled at him "Do you HAVE to play that thing so LOUD?"

 

Somewhat taken aback, he was just composing his thoughts to give a polite and reasoned reply when another equally large and loud lady chimed in "Yes he does - and that's why we came!"

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.....the dedication and enthronement of one Dr Ian Ramsey as Bishop of Durham.....

 

David Jenkins, surely?

 

I rather think so. Ian Ramsay was appointed Bishop of Durham in 1966 and died in 1972: David Jenkins became Bishop of Durham in 1984 and held notoriously controversial views on the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

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I always remember the story told by a well known organist who had to accompany a Mothers' Union Diocesan service on the Wurlitzer then in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. The Bishop was to make a grand entrance, so the organist in question decided to use the snare drum followed by a big fanfare. The organist in question then erroneously missed the snare drum piston and the said Bishop made his grand entrance to "cuckoo - cuckoo - cuckoo" etc.

 

NS

 

 

I seem to remember that Jonathan Rennert's biography of Thalben-Ball contains a somewhat similar story about him, as well as one where his efforts with an oil can to lubricate the action of a harmonium he had been asked to play in a church somewhere in Wales proved so effective that pedalling made it mobile and sent him on a journey round the chancel ...

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I rather think so. Ian Ramsay was appointed Bishop of Durham in 1966 and died in 1972: David Jenkins became Bishop of Durham in 1984 and held notoriously controversial views on the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

 

 

====================

 

 

I stand corrected. In fact, I was hoping to rush back during the wee small hours and correct the mistake; knowing that someone would spot it.

 

David Jenkins it was, of course, but I'm not so sure that his views were especially controversial, considering that they had been around for the better part of a century before he uttered them.

 

MM

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John Scott-Whitley, as featured elsewhere on this board, has been assistant-organist at York since before time began, and when Jesus was but a twinkle in God's eye.

 

Some will recall the terrible fire which claimed the roof of the South Transept, which at the time was blamed not so much of lightning, but upon God "rewarding the proud after their deserving" following the dedication and enthronement of one Dr Ian Ramsey as Bishop of Durham, which for some obscure ecclesiastical reason, took place at York.

 

Being a man of liberal theological leanings, and something of an academic, the stage was set for a show-down between the then rival factions within the Anglican church: the liberal high churchmen and the evangelicals. (What happened to that rather lively discourse and mutual disrespect?)

 

On the day, there was a veritable posse of assembled hecklers and protestors, who gathered in their droves to greet the new bishop as he exited York Minster by the great west door.

 

Things didn't quite get to fisticuffs, but there was something of a scrum as the unfortunate bishop had to run the gauntlett of banners and verbal abuse.

 

As John Scott-Whiteley told me, "Well.....what else could I play as he left, but Mendelssohn's "War March of the Priests?"

 

B)

 

MM

 

Sorry, but I must correct the unintended slander on the name of Ian Ramsay, a saintly and tireless Bishop of Durham, whose early death was almost certainly the result of overwork. The problematic prelate in question was his successor, Dr David Jenkins, formerly Professor of Theology at Leeds, whose radical views on various doctrinal issues, such as the Virgin Birth, were the cause of much controversy at the time of his appointment.

 

JS

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Sorry, but I must correct the unintended slander on the name of Ian Ramsay, a saintly and tireless Bishop of Durham, whose early death was almost certainly the result of overwork.  The problematic prelate in question was his successor, Dr David Jenkins, formerly Professor of Theology at Leeds, whose radical views on various doctrinal issues, such as the Virgin Birth, were the cause of much controversy at the time of his appointment.

 

JS

 

 

========================

 

 

I guess it just doesn't pay to be an academic in this world. People want good stories rather than sound theology.

 

Splendid man, Dr Jenkins!

 

MM

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Perhaps a little off-topic because it isn't organ-related, I did like the wonderful wit of Lord Runcie when he was A-of-C.

 

When Runcie invited Pope John Paul II to England, Dr Paisley in Northern Ireland went ballistic; wagging a finger and shouting, "Aye warnnt to 'av wards with the Archbishop o'Canterbury!"

 

Completely unphased, Runcie told the journalists, "I would be delighted to talk to Mr (sic) Paisley at any time. All he has to do is to walk across the water to Canterbury."

 

Ouch!

 

B)

 

MM

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