It’s probably fair to say that John Williams has been responsible in producing the most significant pieces of music that feature in our films. Not only that, these pieces of music have shaped us culturally too, and as a result it is so easy to make a connection to these sounds.
Prom 7 is full of French fancies. We are taken on a journey through time from the Baroque period to modern day compositions and exposed to some wonderful pieces of music.
It’s 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution and this Prom is stuffed with political, musical messages. The symphonic poem, October by Shostakovich is a ‘subversive musical message’ at his most political whilst Sibelius’ Second Symphony is considered ‘a potent symbol of nationalism and resistance by the people of Finland.’ Quite apt choices considering the political climate at the moment.
By now I am starting to become familiar with certain composers. In Prom 5, I am again in the company of Sibelius and introduced to new friends, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich.
Prom 4 sees the eclectic combination of Birtwistle and Elgar, both of which were conducted by the phenomenal and versatile Daniel Barenboim.
I should probably admit that I have a fluctuating relationship with Mozart. It all went a bit downhill when I had to study Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto as a teenager. For some reason that piece of music and I never really did see eye to eye and to this day I still feel agitated when I hear it being played to the point where I usually need to switch it off or ask for something else to be played. So, going into this Prom I probably was carrying a tarnished idea of what to expect from such an esteemed composer and a dread that perhaps I might be confronted with the same frustration.
The second prom is transporting me back in time to 1904. Both composers featured in this prom are very prominent but are new to me. Even though I have heard the names of Sibelius and Elgar I certainly wouldn’t say that I am familiar with them, which is what makes this Proms challenge so exciting for me. I get to discover hidden gems, even if it does mean that I turn up late to the party!