Monday, 5 August 2013

John Amis

I thought he would go on for ever and I shall miss him. John Amis was on my reading list as soon as I learned that in his eighties he was gracing the blogosphere with his music criticism and reminiscences. He was still attending performances and posting his sharp observations only two months ago. I trust the pages will be left up for this and later generations to enjoy.

Like many, I first became acquainted with his work through My Music, when he occasionally stood in for Ian Wallace or David Franklin, finally taking over permanently from the latter in 1974. (The programme had a long run, using only five performers throughout as I recall; the musicians were augmented by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, with Steve Race in the chair. Sadly, only Denis Norden is still with us.) Amis was also deeply involved in the Hoffnung concerts. His turn (with Gerard Hoffnung) as one of a pair of pretentious German critics puffing squeaky-gate modern music is a gem.

He was a fund of great Thomas Beecham stories, having worked as a dogsbody for the old rogue great man just after the war, including a tour of Australia. I just hope that somewhere those tales are recorded, as the BBC in its wisdom seems to have wiped all but the last year of My Music recordings. At least the corporation still has the programmes commemorating Amis's 90th birthday last year.

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