Arthur Rubinstein Chopin Nocturnes

Arthur RubinsteinArthur Rubinstein playing Chopin Nocturnes

By Anne Louise Massey

So as I light the log burner and sit down with a glass of wine, surrounded by sundry and beloved animals ……. why is it I wonder, that almost every evening it’s Rubinstein who provides my evening concert? My current passion for his playing of the Chopin Nocturnes ­ out of quite a generous collection of music ­ prompts me to find out more about him. The answer begins to emerge. Here was a man who lived life to the full ­ and this, even after a failed suicide attempt at about the age of 20 when penniless, stuck in Berlin, trying to travel to Paris, he was in love with a married woman who kept promising to leave her husband ­ but didn’t ­ and then the rope snapped; he failed to hang himself.

He went out into the street afterwards ­ he felt born again ­ that life was actually worth living and from that time on, he never allowed himself to feel defeated. Imagine our loss if that rope had not snapped.

He talked of the grand, beautifully dressed, rich people flooding in to the concert hall, having probably eaten rather well, the men thinking and planning their next business deal and the women enjoying showing off their gorgeous clothes ­ but the music …… HOW could this little man possibly win them over? Amused, he likened himself, in his dress suit, to an undertaker; the piano representing a coffin.

He taught himself how to project emotion, how to create a sensual pleasure through his finger tips, how by striking the hammers in a certain way and synchronising the pedals he could create just the right amount of lingering tension ­ he learned it from observing a Czech singer called Emmy Destinn; from her he absorbed the quality of sound and tone. In singing, even as in speaking, one knows how and where to breathe ­ and so with music, knowing when and where to pause and for how long. It’s his own rich history and passion for his art that emanates through the music every time. Oh, the dear, dear man …… I honour and revere you. Thank you.

You can listen to it here

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Vintage Sheet Music

This site is dedicated to vintage sheet music or musical scores. The references to rare and nostalgic remain relevant but references to current and modern music will disappear from here.

There is still the question of what is meant by vintage. The definition is moveable. What is vintage depends on the age of who is listening. I will treat the term liberally. As a guide I will regard The Rolling Stones’ music as vintage and that of any of their contemporaries or predecessors.

There will be two main strands to the site.  Physical sheet music – generally pre-used that is for vintage or classical music.

Some of the music is over one hundred years old so condition varies. Music will show varying signs of wear,  tears, commonly users notation or their names on the front. In all cases the music itself will be readable. Nothing will be listed where any of the music itself is illegible.

A look at the shop pages will illustrate that there is a variety of genres; pop music of its time; show tunes; classical including full scores; dance music; marches. The front covers of some of the sheet music are works of art; probably some are collectable. Music for example by A T Paull has become more desirable for the drama of the graphics than the quality of the music.

There is still a lot of music to add from my collection. Music will be added each day so please keep coming back to see what changes.

The second aim of the site is to provide articles of interest.  Your contributions will be very welcome.



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Roger Whittaker

Roger WhittakerWhen Roger Whittaker moved into a house in the village where I lived in 2012  I certainly remembered the name. I remember watching a BBC documentary about him – I don’t remember exactly when; it could have been in the 1970s. I do remember that he came across well with a humble and appreciative nod to his success. Since then he has not really been on my radar – a name from the past who had an impact musically. The concept, however, of a celebrity moving into the area did arouse my curiosity.

I did what lots of us do I Googled him and subsequently YouTubed him. What I discovered really did surprise me.

I discovered that he was more famous in Germany, the rest of Europe and the US than the UK. I discovered an enormous and I really mean enormous amount of music. I discovered that he came out of retirement and went on to work well into his 70s particularly in Germany. Above all I discovered that I really liked his music, his voice his style and yes he whistles beautifully.

For those that don’t know of him – many will be too young to have been touched by his early performances here is a brief bio from his website, from Wikipedia and from his fans.

Roger Whittaker was born in Nairobi Kenya in 1936. He was drafted into the Kenya Regiment in 1956 to do his national service and subsequently studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and then the University of Bangor in South Wales. He left University in 1962 after a successful three years of study with a BSc degree. Whilst studying he had also been writing and singing in local clubs. His first single was “The Charge of the Light Brigade” but it was his second release “Steel Men” that was to be the first song to enter the British music charts.

He continued to pursue a career in music working initially in Ireland. He spent five years performing and gaining a reputation as a serious and talented performer. His early reputation was predominantly outside of the UK but in other parts of Europe. “Mexican Whistler” reached number ONE in three European countries and “If I Were a Rich Man” peaked at number TWO.

In the spring of 1964, Roger met Natalie O’Brien, and they married in August. They have five children: Emily, Lauren, Jessica, Guy and Alexander.

His career continued to flourish particularly in Europe, in the Nordic countries and German. He also toured in the US. His highest charting single in the UK was “The Last Farewell” which reached number TWO. Other chart successes have included “Durham Town (The Leavin)”, “New World in The Morning”, “I don’t Believe in If Anymore” and “The Skye Boat Song” the latter with Des O’Connor.

This is an extract from an article in the Guardian by Ann Giles

“I have loved Roger’s voice since I was 12. I used to feel that he’d get away with singing from the telephone directory, if necessary. Luckily he hasn’t had to resort to that. He writes his own songs, as well as recording many well-known songs from elsewhere. In the shops they call it easy listening, and as I skulk in HMV I feel vaguely ashamed. Thank God for internet shopping.

Roger Whittaker may have begun his career as an Elvis soundalike, but since becoming himself, he’s just got better and better. Forty-six years on he’s still singing, and his voice has got deeper and sexier with age. Some know Roger only as ‘the one who whistles’.  He whistles beautifully – a skill learned in his childhood in Kenya. He sings in many languages, including Swahili, and I’ve even heard him tackle a Danish nursery rhyme.”

There is no need for me to write more here. Do what I did and turn to Google and YouTube – it surprised me in many ways.

I think Roger Whittaker really has retired now and I know he has found a great place  to live. I wish that I still did too.

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Ella Henderson

Mirror Man is the latest track from the delightful Gabriella (Ella) Henderson. This follows her very successful launch of the single Ghost described as the best-selling single in the summer; it was launched at the beginning of June. Her debut album will be released in the UK on October 13 2014.

Ella Henderson was a finalist on the ninth series of the X Factor in the UK in 2012. She finished in sixth place. Her debut single Ghost went straight to number one.and remained in the top 5 for eight consecutive weeks. Her second single Glow is to be released a week before her debut album Chapter One.

Since her departure from X-Factor she has been busy performing live and on TV. She has written the songs for her album collaborating with Claude Kelly. According to Capital One FM Ella also collaborated with Emili Sandé.

Leaving the X Factor early was almost certainly a blessing. Ella is a songwriter as well as a performer and already had her own style by the time she reached week six. The X-Factor process seems strange to me. Aspiring performers are chosen because of their talent and originality and potential X-factor and then encouraged to sing in every style under the sun. It might make good television but I am sure it is not beneficial to the performers.

I’m looking forward to seeing her progress.

You can preorder Ella’s debut album “Capital One” by clicking on the cover on the left.

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Kate Bush

Kate BushWhen we are knee deep in “popular” singers and musicians the key to longevity is elusive. Most come and go. They are good but not memorable. What are the key elements? Talent, passion, grit, persistence and above all else uniqueness. There are some secondary needs – support, publicity, intelligence and perhaps a desire for celebrity status.

Kate Bush – talent yes, passion clearly and from her work that is already well documented grit and persistence in droves. Uniqueness – she almost defines it!

Individuality is perhaps a better expression. And that perhaps is the most challenging thing in a world where one is encouraged to conform; by parents, peers and institutions. Not conforming has its risks of course but the benefits can be much greater; especially if it is combined with genuine talent. Kate Bush stands resolutely stubbornly individual. She would be true heroine in an Ayn Rand novel.

Reading about Kate Bush’s early life to date she was precocious in a good way and wilful with her sponsors – effectively so – she got her way with the choice of her first recordings and apparently even the graphics on the album covers. I will borrow a phrase from music critic Nick Coleman who writes in The Independent “she has stood firmly for artistic independence in the face of corporate will”.

She has refreshingly not sought “celebrity” status – indeed has steadfastly avoided it. Her fame is purely down to her work and talent not her lifestyle. Kate Bush’s reputation is based on her performances and her talent.

Secondary needs were provided for – support from friends and family and intelligence in abundance.

She is there now starkly in the news arising from her current live show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Sadly I have not seen it but have been struck by the reviews and by the response of people interviewed after seeing the show – effusively emotionally favourable – extraordinarily so.

Alexis Petridis writes comprehensively in “The Guardian” – she gets 5 stars from him and he concludes “Already widely acclaimed as the most influential and respected British female artist of the past 40 years, shrouded in the kind of endlessly intriguing mystique that is almost impossible to conjure in an internet age, Bush theoretically had a lot to lose by returning to the stage. Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: ‘Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement'”

Kate Bush is described as reclusive – to me that is negatively loaded – unfairly judgemental. She had choices in her life that she stuck to resolutely – she has avoided many of the pitfalls of stardom. She seems to have applied the same resolute rules to her daily life as to her performances – she has stood firmly by her decisions. It has of course tantalised her fans and the members of the audiences many of whom were not born when she last performed. Her performances have a mystery about them like her life.

I admire her independence, objectivity, conviction and talent. She should be an inspiration to aspiring young artists especially if they have talent, passion, grit, determination and more than anything else something new.

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BBC Last Night Of The Proms 2014

The BBC Last Night of the Proms took place on Saturday 13 September 2014.

It was a first for conductor Sakari Oramo. He was joined by

  • Dutch Violinist Janine Jensen
  • Singer Ruthie Henshaw
  • Soprano Elizabeth Watts
  • Tenor John Daszak
  • Baritone Roderick Williams
  • And of course The BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and essentially

The programme comprises

Composers Piece Duration minutes
Gavin Higgins Velocity BBC Commission world premiere Three
Arnold Peterloo New choral version with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice – another world premiere Nine
Walton Façade Popular song Three
Chausson Poème Sixteen
Tavener Song for Athene Paying tribute to the late John Tavener Seven
Richard Strauss Taillefer Eighteen
Khachaturian Gayane Sabre Dance Three
Ravel Tzigane Nine
Kern Show Boat Ol’ Man River Two
Traditional Joshua Fit the Battle of Jerico (Arr R Williams) Three
Richard M & Robert B Sherman Mary Poppins Medley marking the 50th anniversary Eight
Ansell Plymouth Hoe Eight
Arne Rule Britannia! Arr Sargent Seven
Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D Major Land of Hope and Glory Six
Parry Jerusalem Orc Elgar Four


The conductor Sakari Oramo (OBE) was born in Finland in 1965 and started his career as a violinist and concertmaster of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1989.

From 2003 to 2012 he went on to conduct the same orchestra. He is married to the Finnish soprano Anu Mormsi. He was awarded his honorary OBE in 2009 for services to music in Birmingham where he conducted The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.





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