Before the Music stopped

Regular members of Wendover Choral Society’s audience will be familiar with my name as the choir’s Music Director since 2000.

In March, 2020, three months into the celebrations for the 250th birth of Beethoven, all music performance abruptly stopped. This presented professional musicians with the unexpected and unwelcome experience of sitting at home with time to kill.

In my case, I had the opportunity to finish writing a book, published at the end of 2020, that I had been working on for years. ‘Shakespeare and Emilia’ is a highly researched look at the personal life of Shakespeare and Emilia Bassano. My ancestor was nominated as the Dark Musical Lady of the Sonnets by Elizabethan historian A.L.Rowse.

The continuation of lockdown for theatres and concert halls left me time to write a much lighter hearted book requiring less scholarly research. Its title, influenced by the pandemic ‘Before the Music Stopped’ looks at the life of a professional musician in London 1965-2000.

The book tracks incredible international and technical developments forced on the music profession through encounters with iconic conductors such as Klemperer, Barbirolli, Abbado, Maazel, Muti, Giulini, Svetlanov and many others. The development of the early music revival is traced through concerts and recordings with David Munrow, Musica Reservata, His Majesties Sagbutts & Cornetts, John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir.

The popular areas of music are covered in recording music for films, like ‘Oliver!’, ‘The Lion in Winter’, ‘The Meaning of Life’ and ‘Watership Down’. Entertaining anecdotes are retold in tours with the Bee Gees and Pink Floyd and how it was that I came to sing on ‘Hey Jude’ with The Beatles.
Peter Bassano