April, 1949

when he was four years old and he would sit the day throu~h listening to i t . At the age of eight he knew every bar of music that the orcqestrion played. His memory was already remarkable. Taught to read at the age of s~, a year later he could recite MfI&b,th ~n its entirety.

When nine he was taken to his first concert, a piano recital where some recent compositiOIlll of Grieg were played. That night he could not sleep, the tunes went round and round in his head like a hurdy~urdy. Acting on a daring impulse, he Jumped out of bed and went downstairs to the drawing room where he found the family assemOled. There, amidst .. a profound and astonished silence" he advanced to the middle ot the carpet and said: .. Please may I learn the piano ? .. At this odd request his old nurse burst into tears. Nevertheless, the next day the organist of the local Roman Catholic church was summoned and he at once declared that the boy was suffering from .. long suppression of the . artistic instinct and should be given relief at once." So Sir Thomas was promptly sat in front of a piano, and his teacher beguiled him with stories of the Mozart operas, for his teacher only worshipped one god and that was Mozart. That was the first of many teachers, among whom were Dr. John Varley Roberts, organist· at Magdalen College, Oxford, Freder-ick Austin, at the Liverpool School of Music, Charles Wood at the Royal College of Music and Moskowski in Paris.

Sir Joseph, apart from his organ playing, was sociable: he kept open house and Ewansville was often full of musicians. The Carl Rosa Operatic Company, then in its palmy days and t the height of its popularity, had its eadquarters in Liverpool and gave a two month season there every year. Then, three t imes a week, the Beecham carriage, full of Beechams, drove into Liverpool to hear them. Thus Sir Thomas heard his first opera-Gounod's Faust.

Until he was thirteen, he attended a small private school in the village, then he went to Rossall where, when he was made house captain, he was allowed to have a piano in his room, the only Rossallian who has, I believe, ever been allowed this privilege. When fifteen he was awarded the prize for pianoforte playing, a stout volume of Beethoven's sonatas. He also played the big drum in the school military band. He was saved from the stigma of being" arty" and a prig because he played cricket and football -'- occasionally. .. Rossall," he records, .. was not without charm of a grey and gloomy kind." I t had not yet occurred to him that his love of music was such that i t was already inevitable that he would have to devote the rest of his life to i t . On the contrary, he took i t for granted that eventually he would become part of his father's business organisation. Already Sir Joseph had taken him on trips to the continent and to the U.S.A. as part of his business training. I t was the continent that stirred the first symptoms of revolt in Sir Thomas. The t ime was approaching for him to leave Rossall and he suggested to his father that his education might be finished off at Heidelberg or some similar continental university. But on this Sir Joseph was adamant: Oxford or Cambridge i t must be, the boy could make his choice. So he went to Oxford and l ived outside his college in Walton Street. He read History and Classics and dashed about at football for Wadham. But most of his t ime was spent playing the piano in his rooms and composing songs and" l i t t le pieces." One term, he was missir:g for a week. He was in Dresden for the first night of a new opera and other nights as a guest at dinner parties. His absence was not noticed. Perhaps already the myth had been established that he was never where he should be and that he was oblivious to the obligations of appointments.

He spent the Summer vacation at home. Time hanging heavily and moving slowly, he formed an orchestral society at St. Helen's, the amateur players being stiffened with a leaven of professionals, and gave a series of classical concerts. Now he had no doubt that conducting was the natural medium of his musical expression, an expression which until now he had vainly sought in the pianoforte and other solo instruments. He discovered that he could commit an orchestral score to memory as easily as he had done piano scores and transcriptions. When 19, and again at home, his father announced a concert at St. Helen's with the Halle Orchestra. At the last moment Richter wired that he was ill and unable to come. What was to be done except postpone the concert? A member of the orchestra suggested to Sir Joseph that his son should cor.duct. .. Why not ? " he said, " he knows the programme backwards!" Sir Joseph hummed. . . . Then one of the first violins said: No, not on his life, he, as a professional wasn't going to play under a tuppel ny-'apenny amateur, that was certainly too much for his professional dignity. .. Right! " replied Sir Joseph. .. Then stay away, damn you!" Young Beecham cor.ducted and the concert went its way without a hitch. At the end of his next term he left Wadham. The Warden wished him goodbye and added: "Your untimely departure has perhaps spared us the necessity of asking you to go." Years after Beecham was made a Fellow of the College.

He returned home. Here occurred some words between father and son, a misunderstanding exaggerated, and a domestic drama was played with the inevitable curtain of the son leaving horne and being cut off with a shilling. It was nine years before Sir Thomas heard from or saw his father again. In London he tried to find some opening as a conductor but without any success. Meanwhile he studied. In 1902, during his third year in London, he heard that a newly - formed operatic company (I believe the Imperial Grand Opera Company but I have not been able to trace any records) was about to tour the suburbs, at once Beecham hurried off to their offices with the score of a recentlycompleted opera under his arm. He found a small room crowded with people. Mter waiting hours, a door was suddenly opened and a head appeared in the aperture. .. Anyone here play the piano ?" asked the head. There was an assenting chorus. "I don't mean that," said the voice. " Do any of you know Faust without the music ?" Silence. Then Beecham said he did. "I don't mean a bit of i t , but all of i t ," boomed the voice. Beecham said "Yes," so he was beckoned by the head into another room where there was a piano and a soprano. The soprano had forgotten her music and i t was Beecham's job to accompany while she ran through her arias. When she had departed i t appeared that the man who had called him in, also wanted to practise his arias, so Beecham played for him for the next hour. Then the man stopped being Faust and demanded what Beecham wanted. Tentatively he displayed his score. I t was a new opera. I t had occurred to him that the compal)y might like to give i t its first performance. .. Good God! What an idea! " said the man. "Can't you do anything else?" It then transpirir.g that Beecham could conduct, he was engaged as one of two conductors. The tour, after two months, came to a sudden er.d.

It was at this opportune moment that his grandfather gave him a small estate which enabled Beecham to re-consider his plans. Again he went to the continent, this t ime to work and study. At Lucerne he worked on a second opera, Christopher Marlowe, and began to learn yet another instrument, the trombone. This did not meet with the approval of the other pensioa residents so Beecham retired to practise in a corner of the cathedral graveyard. Here there were further remonstrances, his trombone interfered with the choristers' practice. Finally he had to hire a small boat and row to the middle of the lake before he again dared to blow into the offending trombone.

In London, in 1906, he founded the New Symphony Orchestra and in the Autumn gave a series of concerts at the Queen's Hall. At the conclusion of the first. Frederick Delius came into the artists' room and introduced himself. At that t ime nothing of his had been heard in London for eight or nine years. Almost immediately Beecham undertook I t performance of Appalachia. From this meeting arose a life-long friendship between the two men and there has been no more ardent champion of Delius's music than Beecham. Indeed, but for this, i t is doubtful if the great Delius works would have been heard in London until after his death. If then . Dame Ethd Smytl.e tel lS a story of a woman friend, wishing to please him. bought a record of On hearing the first Cuckoo in Spring. She told Beecham she had made no er.d of DeIius converts with i t . The record was placed on the gramophone and there then emergl:d the strains of Moskowsky's Scherzo Capricioso! The poor cuckoo was on the other side of the record. The labels had been wror.glyfixed. Someone told this to Delius as ajoke but he did not laugh.

In December, 1908, Beecham had the first of his disputes with his orchestras. He wished to end the deplorable abuse of deputies attending rehearsals. No, wd the