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To soothe the savage breast

Music History for Those Who Are Able to Read has a new addition — a reprint of a contemporary review of the original Concerto performance that appeared in October 4, 1969, issue of the New Musical Express.

“The gulf remains wide and unabridged.”
“Pop and classics just don’t mix… so the pop group had its fire steadily dampened.”


By Gordon Coxhill

THE above are just two quotes from reviews in our national Press which appeared the morning after the Deep Purple’s appearance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall last Wednesday evening.

Now I don’t suppose there is much doubt that the two critics concerned have a far wider experience and understanding of classical than myself, but I do feel that they have somewhat missed the whole point of the exercise.

Music isn’t meant to work: it is to be listened to and enjoyed, to arouse emotion and to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, soothe the savage breast.

Perhaps it is my own musical naivety, but Lord’s “Concerto For Group And Orchestra” was a resounding success, not only in my book, but also for the large crowds of youngsters and older folk present.

Continue reading in Music History for Those Who Are Able to Read.

Thanks to Geir Myklebust for bringing this to your attention.

PS. According to the Phrase Finder “to soothe the savage breast” expression was not actually coined by Shakespeare, but by another English poet — William Congreve. His poem The Mourning Bride (1697) reads:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

4 Comments to “To soothe the savage breast”:

  1. 1
    Marcelo Soares says:

    Shakespeare or Congreve notwithstanding, we definitely know Ian Gillan never felt the need to soothe the savage breast. (Oh, oh, Whatsername is back in town…)

  2. 2
    Eitablepanties says:

    David Coverdale ex wife-Twany Kittan…. ” Dead ” in the news.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Well, a youngish then still guitarist was there and enjoyed the Concerto immensely. He would later on – with some success, it must be said – take up bass duties with a band called QUEEN.

    Yup, John Deacon, a Deep Purple fan.

    As for Tawny: No one did cartwheels over Jag hoods like you. Rest in, if not in the still of the night, then at least in peace.

  4. 4
    GAVIN MOFFAT says:

    The comment “didn’t work/I enjoyed it” is the best that could be expected from someone who had never heard a hard rock band play with an orchestra in 1969. The crowd loved it as did Sir William Walton who cane back stage to say so to Jon.

    I have heard this piece twice at the 30th anniversary weekend in 1999 and In Edinburgh’s Usher hall, where Jon mentored students from The Royal Scottish Conservatoire and Stevenson College for a performance two years before his death.

    It is a work that you have to hear live and preferably in person. Undoubtably 3 of the best live gigs I’ve ever attended. The student performance got two five star reviews s in the National press. It works alright. It’s fantastic.

    It should be recreated for the Proms in London before the band fade into the Purple yonder. What a way to go. Ritchie could guest just to recreate his cheeky 5 minute solo overrun at the original concert in the Albert Hall. This is music that will last.

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