29 July 2021

Music Educators - Do We Need Them?

 

A former student of mine made a comment recently about the failure of music educators to appreciate that their role was not just in training musicians to be performers, but in encouraging them to be ticket-buyers as well.  Wonderful! (thought I.) It may be some years since that student attended one of my lectures, but something I have said seems to have finally sunk in.  Of course, it had nothing at all to do with what I had tried to tell students during my lecturing career, but was prompted by an angry diatribe by another student who had become disillusioned with a conservatory course in violin performance.  But whatever the spark which ignited my former student’s comment, it is a point worth making again.

 

It is a self-evident truth – even if it is one many music educators choose to ignore – that in all probability none of your students will go on to be dazzling, headline stars.  A very few instrumentalists may make it to the rank and file of a regional orchestra, and some may, in time, be elevated to senior chairs in major orchestras, while a tiny handful of singers may, with a lot of luck, make it to the chorus of an opera company.  But as for all those myriad piano students, whose incessant practice populates the corridors of a hundred music conservatories around the world, the best they can expect is to graduate and be appointed teachers of piano at their alma mater, while the vast majority will end up as either school or private music teachers, feeding the seemingly insatiable desire of the next generation of music students to seek the unattainable goal of musical stardom.  Those who do make it to the top usually do it in spite of their education, and as often as not, today’s great performers never even went through a full course of formal professional music training.

 

The logical conclusion from this is that conservatory training is a pointless exercise, and merely raises hopes which would have been better stifled in childhood.  And so it is, if music educators regard their prime function as training the next generation of musical superstars.  I know only too many such teachers whose dream is the reflected glory of their name in the biography of a major superstar – and I note with some bemusement that those educators who help their students prepare their concert biographies, invariably urge them to include a list of their teachers even where those teachers will be totally unknown to any who shell out their hard-earned cash for a ticket.  But it does not have to be that way.  If we regard music conservatories not as hot-houses for the intensive training of performers, but as environments in which the value of music is explained and conveyed, then there is real value in advanced music education. 

 

The siren call of so many music students and educators is that music is special, that it deserves special treatment (especially when it comes to finance), and that it is an essential element in human existence.  And for us it is.  But it is not any of those things for the rest of humanity.  At best, true music-lovers seek out music as a kind of emotional fix, an addictive habit which they believe it is impossible to kick.  (Believe me, you can: I kicked the habit of music for a full year and came back to it more powerfully enthused than ever before.) But for the vast majority of people, if they are even remotely interested in music beyond its use as a background accompaniment to daily life, music is an entertainment, something on a par with cinema, television, theatre, sport, or a visit to the bar.  Classical music concerts compete with football matches and movie releases for the time and money of the public, and neither warrant nor deserve preferential treatment.  I have worked in the profession of music in various capacities virtually all my life, but I have also worked as a barman, double-glazing salesman, journalist, tour guide and bus driver, and have learnt that, while music is special to me, it is very much not for most people.  I know plenty of surgeons, lawyers, statisticians, accountants, office clerks, cooks, truck drivers, who enjoy music but could quite happily live without it, and with it circulating so freely, see no reason to pay for it through ticket or CD purchases.  So many of today’s music educators really have no awareness of the context of music within our society, because they themselves have lived lives utterly remote from the society around them.  Luckily, there are still music educators around who have persuaded former pupils that music is worth investing in as consumers rather than providers, and their students, who may have been disillusioned with the practice of music, still know the value of a live concert or a professionally-produced CD.  But it is a diminishing number, and it is diminishing because, at the very point where we might be able to engender enthusiasm for the art of listening to music (rather than playing it) we do exactly the opposite.  I have many times related the story of how, when a major pianist gave a recital in southeast Asia, none of the local piano teachers or their pupils was in the audience.  When I asked some, I was told “he wasn’t playing anything in the exam lists, so it was not relevant to us”.

 

The one thing it seems to me so many music educators fail to do is teach a love of, or, at least, an enthusiasm for, music as an art rather than as a skill.  Few seem really to know what music is, few show much interest in it beyond their individual instrumental or vocal disciplines, and few have much experience of it as uninvolved participants.  It appals me how many have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the repertory of their instruments but have virtually no interest in or knowledge of the wider concert repertory.  I never forget the advanced diploma student I was examining who played – superbly – one of Bach’s “48”. In the viva voce section of the exam I asked what the student considered Bach’s most significant works to be.  After an embarrassingly long hesitation, the suggestion was made that he had written “a few more preludes and fugues”.  Those great pillars of western civilization, the St Matthew Passion, B Minor Mass, maybe even the Brandenburgs had never crossed that student’s consciousness – and for that I blame the teacher.  I well recall the very first history lecture of my university days, when the lecturer came into the theatre, played a Bach Fugue subject and asked the class which one of the “48” it was.  Horrified that few knew it, or were able to recognise any of the others he played, he sadly declared, “In my day we would not have even been admitted if we could not immediately identify the subject of every one of the 48”.  To this day, I’m not sure that a comprehensive knowledge of all 48 Preludes and Fugues is really a vital piece of equipment in the training of a music student, but I get his point.  The very best guidance I ever had from one of my major study teachers (Michael Austin) was given when I was working on César Franck’s Chorale in A minor.  Austin sent me away for a month to immerse myself in every bit of Franck I could find, provided it was not organ music.  I listened to and studied the Symphony, the Violin Sonata, the Piano Trios, Quintet, the Symphonic Variations, Psyché, Les sept paroles du Christ en croix , Le Chasseur Maudit, you name it, if it was available on record or if the score was in the library, I lapped it up, and when, a month later, I went back to the organ Chorale, I suddenly felt I knew how to play it.  César Franck had become a familiar friend, and I knew every little hallmark of his individual style.  To this day I instantly recognise the sound of Franck even if I do not know the particular work.  And I followed this through with every other composer whose music I wanted to perform in public, with the result that I can instantly recognise the music by a host of major and minor composers.   It is useful, because it is as if I know these composers most intimate secrets, and eagerly seek them out when I see their names on concert programmes and playlists in order to renew an acquaintanceship with an old friend.  It is on this kind of thing that a loyal and knowledgeable audience for music is built, yet it is not being done by most music educators today.

 

There are two major problems with the recruitment of music educators which ensures that music students are getting a bad deal and are not being equipped for the realities of life away from the concert platform.  The first is the educator who has never done anything else, who has gone straight from being a student to being a teacher, and who has no experience whatsoever of the world of work outside music.  My generation was fortunate in that our professors had served national service, been called up for war duties, and had been forcibly exposed to life where music played no part. One of my own academic tutors, a specialist in 14th century chant, had served as a commander in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and brought with him all the swagger and earthiness of years spent aboard ship – it greatly enhanced his ability to communicate and enabled him to put his unique specialism in context.  The second is the educator who sees no point in teaching students outside their own discipline.  The piano professor, teaching Beethoven, who does not oblige students to study the symphonies, opera or quartets, the violin teacher who does not expose students to the world of brass bands or organ music, and the organ teacher who looks so closely at the niceties of north German Baroque that such names as Delius, Gershwin or Chopin are beyond the knowledge of their students.

 

It might be facile to say that Mozart never went to music college, never did any exams or diplomas, and studied music to the exclusion of all else, yet seems to have been quite successful.  But might not that silly statement hold at least a scintilla of relevance when we look at the way music students are taught today?

05 July 2021

A Tale of Three Orchestras

 

On June 30th I officially retired from my post as senior lecturer at the National University of Singapore, ending a close involvement with the musical life of south-east Asia stretching back almost four decades.  I had actually left Singapore over a year earlier, driven out by increasingly rigorous Coronavirus measures, so my official departure was not as heart-breaking as it might have been: I had loved my job and was distressed to be obliged to leave it because of the unfortunate accident of age.  I had loved south-east Asia even more, and the prospect that I will no longer be playing a part in the rich fabric of its musical life is still something that fills me with sadness.

 

While I had begun my life in Asia in an educational institution, and ended it in another, my Asian sojourn was predominantly occupied with orchestras.  During those decades I spent in south-east Asia, I worked closely with three different orchestras in three different countries, and saw one of them grow from a mediocre band into one of the world’s great orchestras, another develop from a small group of a few dozen instrumentalists into a fully-fledged symphony orchestra but which now feels to have stagnated – not moving onwards, but not moving backwards either, and a third, springing into life as one of the truly great orchestras of the world, and ending up as a dishevelled rag tag band of disheartened session players.  I would say that all three boast many brilliant and passionately dedicated players, and all three have worked under some inspirational conductors; what has led to their different fates is their administration and management.

 



The Hong Kong Philharmonic

Spending some time teaching organ at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts in the mid-1980s, I got to know the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and, in my capacity as a music critic for both newspapers and radio, I had more than an audience-member’s interest in the ensemble.  I reported on the opening, in 1989, of the Cultural Arts Centre, which was to become the performing home of the HK Phil, and reviewed several of the orchestra’s early concerts there.  I became its programme annotator somewhere around the turn of the century, and a few years later, after I had relocated to Singapore, was appointed its English Editor. I had seen it struggle to survive after the Handover, teetering on the brink of reduction to a small amateur band, I saw it revive under the inspirational Edo de Waart, and have been continually amazed by its progress to world-class ensemble under the directorship of Jaap van Zweden.  Two years ago, the orchestra completed an amazingly ambitious project to perform and record the entire Ring Cycle for Naxos.  The live recordings were excellent and warranted the orchestra receiving a nomination for Orchestra of the Year at the 2019 Gramophone Awards. 

 

At that point, the quality of its management team was put to the test.  Many orchestras get nominated, but only one gets chosen; and, unlike other Gramophone Awards, the Orchestra of the Year is voted on exclusively by the public.  An aggressive marketing campaign, run by the HK Phil’s tireless and committed marketing team and encouraged by a dedicated and intelligent management, ensured that most people in Hong Kong, and a great many elsewhere, not only knew about the nomination, but were encouraged to cast their votes; I do not recall ever having seen such a hard-pitched campaign to secure a musical award before, but it worked.  The Orchestra won the award, and in so doing became the first Asian orchestra ever to achieve that accolade.  Over the last months, when the pandemic has played havoc worldwide with musical performances (and Hong Kong had the additional issues of some serious civil disturbances last year), the management of the orchestra and its marketing team have worked ceaselessly to find ways of keeping the orchestra’s profile in the public eye, and with adventurous ideas about remote performances, and a whole raft of clever marketing strategies, the HK Phil has not only survived the pressures, but is coming out even stronger today.  Back in the 1980s, and especially after the Handover in 1997, questions were raised about the “relevance” of a western symphony orchestra in a Chinese city, but, again, good marketing and determined management, brushed those aside, and the level of local support for the Orchestra never fails to impress me.  It is a very fine orchestra, musically; but brilliant management ensures everybody knows and believes this.

 


My first ever venture into south east Asia was as an examiner for the ABRSM.  A mammoth tour – lasting from May to December 1985 – found me spending three months in a Singapore hotel just a stone’s throw from the Victoria Concert Hall.  After an eternity of hearing candidates struggle their way through the early grade pianos (any other instrument was unheard of in the 1980s) I needed a dose of professional orchestral music and so I went to a concert given by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.  A desultory, depressing, and dreadful experience, which an examiner colleague described (harshly and not entirely fairly) as a “miserable bunch of disaffected expat players under a talentless conductor”, I recall a surly band of uninspired players performing uninspiring repertory under the baton of an uninspiring conductor.  I had thought my early experience of the HK Phil was bad; this was far, far worse.  A sprinkling of an audience gave it lacklustre support and rushed off after the concert as if being released from captivity.  In 1997, at which time I was living in Singapore, I renewed my acquaintance with the orchestra, and was conscious of signs of improvement.  A new music director was on the way, and a new concert hall just waiting for the Asian currency crash to recover, was promised.  I was asked to write some material for the orchestra, I became its programme annotator, and worked on a history of the orchestra for a book to be published to mark its 25th anniversary in 2004.  The new music director turned the orchestra round and increased its strength, while the concert hall had a revolutionary effect on it.  Playing standards exploded through the roof, and it began to attract a very sizeable audience, albeit mostly comprising transitory expats.  A visit was made to the BBC Proms in London, where they acquitted themselves magnificently, and, following a series of recordings released on the BIS label, they have just been nominated for the Gramophone Orchestra of the Year Award for 2021.

 

Again, this is where the management steps in, but I fear this is where the journey may well end.  The SSO management has always been an uneasy combination of keen amateur musicians and hard-nosed businessmen; an enthusiasm for music is seen as an adequate qualification to deal with professional musicians, while the real work is in ensuring the books balance at the end of each fiscal year and maybe even show a paper profit.  That lack of real musical experience too often has revealed itself in a lack of vision when it comes to music.  Repertory has been limited, more governed by the particular enthusiasms of the management than a broader understanding of what orchestral players need to keep their interests alive.  A lavish performance of a big Mahler Symphony, or a romantically-extravagant one of a Rachmaninov Concerto being seen as the ultimate measure of the orchestra’s quality, while for its part, the local audience, largely unexposed to serious orchestral music, may enjoy these big spectacular concerts, but otherwise show little interest in what the orchestra does and none at all in the quality of its playing.  Big name soloists and conductors pull them in, but if they see a programme of Mozart and Haydn with just the orchestra to watch, they seem largely disinterested.  And the marketing department does nothing to address this.   Again, the staff are enthusiastic for music, but lack that broader view, and seem content to aim their marketing at children and families, giving off the impression that there is no need to focus on serious music lovers.  The trouble is, those who vote for the Orchestra of the Year award are serious music lovers, and I fear the SSO marketing will not reach them, and certainly not push the nomination with the same fire and vigour as did the Hong Kong team.  More than that, there is an issue of audience loyalty to be addressed.  Any of us who have ever written about the SSO know that there is a proportion of local people whose dislike of the orchestra and all it stands for, while often incoherently expressed, is nevertheless very real.  An administration team of keen enthusiasts is no match to a dedicated band of hostile opponents.  Without strong and focused direction, I cannot see the SSO progressing any further than it has; I fear it will remain a good regional orchestra pandering to the enthusiasms of a few who enjoy the sound of music and music-making perhaps more than the quality of it.

 


Anthony Camden was Dean when I was working at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and knowing that I had recently undertaken an extended ABRSM tour of Malaysia, he asked me if I could assist him with a task he had been commissioned to do by the Malaysian government to assess the feasibility of setting up a music conservatory in the country.  All of us involved agreed unanimously that it would never work; Camden himself had been appalled at the standards of teaching he had found and was incredulous that there were, so far as he could discover, no properly trained teachers of double reed instruments in the entire country. Our report delivered, I set off to start a new life in Sarawak, that part of Malaysia which occupies a small chunk of the island of Borneo where, some years later, and totally out of the blue, I had a call from John Duffy, a friend of Camden’s, who had heard about the work I had done with him.  John had been called in to help establish a new orchestra in Malaysia; it seemed that, while a music conservatory was (then) an impossible dream, the will was there to establish a fully professional orchestra.  The idea was that, if Malaysia could attract the very best players and create a state-of-the-art concert hall for them to perform in, Malaysians might then be more inclined to take music seriously and improve on the appallingly low standards Camden and I had witnessed.  He wanted my input and, to cut a long story short, I ended up in Kuala Lumpur, assisting the British agency, IMG Artists, in creating what was to become the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.  Tan Sri Azizan, president of the national oil company (Petronas) was hugely enthusiastic, offering a site between the twin towers he was having built as his company’s headquarters in the city centre for the concert hall, and willing to pay for the new orchestra out of Petronas coffers.  No expense was spared in the construction of the hall or the hiring of the musicians, but even then, when the orchestra first got together under Kees Bakels for a preliminary play-together in April 1998, none of us was expecting quite such a fabulous sound.  And so it grew, the orchestra quickly earning a reputation around the world for the excellence of its playing, the consistency of its standards, and the sumptuousness of its sound on its home turf.  The BBC took an interest, ran, for the first time ever, an official Last Night of the Proms in Kuala Lumpur, and it was an open secret that the MPO was being groomed to appear at the London Proms.  At that point management took over.

 

Something any company in Malaysia has to accept is, no matter what it is doing nor who it is doing it for, it has to have a Malaysian at its head.  The orchestra and concert hall, being part of the state-owned Petronas group, needed not only to have a Malaysian CEO but a Muslim one at that.  From the outside, that probably does not seem a big deal; but many Malaysian Muslims regarded instrumental music as haram (forbidden), which instantly causes problems for a Malaysian Muslim CEO.  As a result, Petronas put in place its most ineffective people, who were there by virtue of being incompetent but unsackable, and, initially, the CEO happily let the IMG staff run the roost and spent his time on the golf course.  But the IMG staff left when the contracts expired, Tan Sri Azizan died, and the new Petronas president appointed a new CEO who, disastrously, claimed to “like” music.  She took a more hands-on approach to the day-to-day running of the orchestra.  It was my job to help her bridge that chasm between the Malaysian ethic of not doing much and accepting the mediocre, and the musical one of working tirelessly to achieve ever-higher standards; and I failed miserably.  The big issue came when, with the rise of petrol prices, the public started to question why they were having to pay a few sen more for their fuel when the same company was lavishing millions on a group of elite expats who were playing something forbidden by religion and therefore closed to the majority of Malaysians.  She was to appear before a government committee, and briefing her the night before, I reminded her that the whole objective in setting up the MPO was to show not what Malaysians could do, but to show Malaysians and the world that Malaysia could entice the very best in any field of human activity (this was also the period during which the Formula 1 was brought to Malaysia).  I do not think it was ever part of the plan to train Malaysians to be musicians; more to entice major investment to the country by showing it was as good as the west when it came to costly cultural pursuits.  She ignored this and promised the government committee that she would ensure that Malaysians, rather than foreigners, occupied seats in the orchestra, irrespective of ability.  That CEO was seen to have been a great success, so was moved on, and a wholly unsuitable member of the Petronas legal team was brought in to serve as the CEO under whom, it was earnestly hoped, the orchestra would simply fade away.  Sadly, this CEO turned it round and it began to restore the MPO to its once magnificent self.  But this was not the plan, and she was promptly dismissed.  Then, in fulfilment of the promise the previous CEO had made to the government committee, when the players’ contracts came up for renewal, a large number of key players – among them the very best in the orchestra whose presence ensured that the orchestra had a very high international profile – found their contracts were not renewed (mine was among these).

 

For many years the rump MPO staggered on, more a training orchestra than anything else, with young, inexperienced players brought in to play alongside their teachers – great experience for them but a miserable one for the audience.  Increasingly bad management focused its energies on appealing to the local market, which effectively meant a diet of populist music events usually featuring home-grown pop performers.  But in recent years, things perked up.  A new manager, a competent-ish CEO and a gradual build up in playing strength, saw the orchestra claw its way back up towards musical respectability.  And then it all came crashing down again.  Largely blamed on the pandemic, management felt it was no longer viable to keep in place an orchestra which never performed (the MPO marketing people showed none of the initiative shown by the HK Phil marketing people in promoting the orchestra during lockdowns), and when they come up for renewal, most of the musicians’ contracts will not be renewed.  A rump band will be left, mostly of wind players who can give credibility to recording sessions by Malaysian pop performers, and it seems inevitable that even these will eventually fade away, and what was once south-east Asia’s orchestral crowning glory will just be a memory. 

 

What these three different stories tell me is that, no matter how dedicated, talented, and skilled the musicians are, an orchestra stands or falls on the strength of its management.  Sadly, whether or not an orchestra gets the management it deserves seems to be purely a matter of chance.

02 July 2021

Could Grieg Compose?

 

Edvard Grieg visited me in my dreams last night.  He was very anxious that I should tell Raymond Gubbay that he did not like his music performed in one of those huge Royal Albert Hall spectaculars, with massed choirs and orchestras, military bands, and canons, culminating in over-the-top renditions (there is no other word for it) of the 1812.  This was clearly a pre-Covid visitation!


I have no idea whether Grieg’s music has ever been performed at a Raymond Gubbay spectacular, whether such spectaculars still take place, whether Raymond Gubbay has ever had anything to do with them, or, indeed, whether Raymond Gubbay is still alive.  (In the interests of accuracy, I have checked on the internet and found that he recently celebrated his 75th birthday, is still very much alive and active, and I even found a picture of him sitting in an empty Albert Hall.) 

 

And, to be truthful, I doubt whether Grieg really took the effort to intervene in my dreams – I suspect it was more the half bottle of Bollinger I consumed the previous evening to celebrate my father’s birthday.  But, as with all such weird dreams, I got to thinking this morning what may have prompted it.  Grieg, I have to say, has not figured significantly in my life since my youth.



The second record I ever bought was the two Peer Gynt suites on an Ace of Clubs LP (in a yellow cover sporting an image of a Norwegian fjord – how original is that!) played by the London Philharmonic under Basil Cameron. I loved it, and played it to death, and in the end my parents bought me a copy of the music to learn on the piano, which I did.  Record three was more Grieg, the Piano Concerto, which I bought as an Allegro LP (which meant it was probably stolen from another label – and the recorded sound implied a fine recording having been reproduced in a domestic environment by a shabby mono mike) featuring Robert Riefling and the Oslo Philharmonic under the improbably-named Odd Grüner-Hegge.  That became my personal anthem, a work I carried with me in my head for years, and which I more than once stumbled my way through on the piano imagining an orchestra filling in the bits I could not play.  More practically, Grieg became my undoubted favourite composer throughout my early years as a piano student, and when the Associated Board (as we called it then) put his Arietta on their Grade IV (as it was dubbed then) syllabus, I earned the first merit of my undistinguished exam career (I’d scraped through I, II and III with very low passes). Right through to my university days, I would play any of the Lyric Pieces – I adored them all – anytime I found myself alone with a piano.  My big regret was that Grieg wrote nothing for the organ.

 

The Grieg edifice I had constructed all came tumbling down with a single sentence in a single lecture during my first-year undergraduate (do we lecturers really appreciate the devastating power we have over impressionable young minds?).  Ian Macrae Bruce, our lecturer in music history, was down to give us a 2-hour lecture on Grieg and Chopin.  There I was three rows from the back sitting next to my beloved Eleri (who shortly after found Jesus, contracted meningitis on a Christian camp in Bridgend, and disappeared off the scene terminally) agape for IMB’s words of wisdom.  His lectures were always hugely entertaining – not least when he attempted to find a track on an LP and ended up destroying LP and stylus in the process – and thought-provoking.  This was no exception.  He walked into the lecture theatre, looked at us over his half-moon glasses and declared: “Ladies and Gentlemen.  I am supposed to lecture you today on Grieg and Chopin.  Let me tell you.  Grieg could not compose”.  And with that he went on to Chopin.  I heard barely a word – such was the depth of my anguish (and antipathy towards Chopin who, if my memory serves me right, could compose).  Was he right?  How could he say such a thing? Was this a joke?  One of the great things about IMB was that he would utter totally provocative statements and expect you to dispute them with him.  As first year students, we rarely had the courage to do so, not least because on the occasions when anybody did, they were shot down in flames for not having prepared their arguments properly.  I decided to investigate, and spent the next few weeks assembling as much critical and scholarly opinion as I could on Grieg and drawing my own conclusions from my own analysis of the music.  I never did debate the issue with IMB: I realised he was quite correct in his harsh denunciation.  I have rarely listened to, or played, Grieg for pleasure since then, and while, when my brother and his wife were living in Bergen, I visited them and toured the Grieg Museum and house and Troldhaugen, his music remained anathema to me. 

 

The nocturnal visitation was probably prompted by my discovery of an old copy of the Lyric Pieces when I was sifting through some old piano music, as well as a strange comment on Facebook from someone mentioning some precocious kid who had played the Grieg Piano Concerto passably well.  This morning I have sat down and played through some of the Lyric Pieces again – I am amazed that after 50 years, they still come to the fingers effortlessly – and am listening to a review copy I was sent decades ago of Leif Ove Andsnes and the Berlin Phil under Mariss Jansons doing the Concerto.  To say that Grieg could not compose is a bit harsh, and what IMB meant (as he did tell me when we discussed it some years later over some whisky in his office), and what I learnt for myself, was that Grieg really could not handle structure.  He was a hugely gifted miniaturist, who failed when he tried anything more than setting a simple melody and chucking in a few repeat signs to give substance to minimal invention.  The Concerto – as I discovered to my immense chagrin all those years ago – would not have stood up in a court of law had Schumann accused him of plagiarism, the Sonata is an assemblage of tunes superimposed over a strictly maintained template of 19th century sonata form, and as for the Symphony, it, to me, proves the point that Grieg was incapable of stretching ideas over the three-minute mark

 



But we now live in an age where music is not large, coherent structures, or skilled manipulation of material to give substance to a huge array of ideas and thoughts, it is small, bite-sized, easily digestible morsels of a single thought or emotion.  Pop music has been incredibly successful because it requires no involvement from the listener, and offers a single, easily accessible emotional concept.  Grieg, it would seem to me, is the ideal composer (sorry, tunesmith) for today’s society.  Yet his music seems to have fallen quite out of favour.  It does not sit happily in the context of the great spectaculars of Raymond Gubbay, or even in a concert devoted to serious music; but it should be heard by all those who like a good tune, enjoy an emotional prod, and do not want to be intellectually stimulated or challenged by the sound they hear.  Perhaps this is why Edvard popped up nocturnally along with the memories of half a bottle of Bollinger.