Nightmares in demography

Wednesday 9 February 2005

Having gone off on that brief frolic about Sorabji the other day, and while thinking about middle-aged guys fretting in public about who listens to classical music, I remembered a recent review by David Hurwitz at Classics Today about a CD of music by Havergal Brian. Brian was a self-taught composer from a working-class background who was never fully recognised by his peers, let alone an audience, during his lifetime but has since attracted a small but (overly?) enthusiastic following. It was some of these fans Hurwitz encountered when queuing at the cash register fifteen years ago, waiting to buy the first CD release of Brian’s monumental “Gothic” Symphony:
Standing in line before me was the New York chapter of the Havergal Brian Society. There were about 10 of them, average age about 70, men with bald scalps and lanky shoulder-length white hair hanging limply in the latest Benjamin Franklin style. All wore thick glasses, and a few had conditions that I thought had been cured by the turn of the last century: goiters, a harelip or two, and various poxes and skin diseases. None had credit cards, or a majority of their teeth, but most had, to put in kindly, olfactorily obvious personal hygiene issues.

He left the shop and bought it by mail-order. If you’re interested, you can get it for about 18 bucks at JB or “you can order on line and never be seen with it in public.”