It's no secret that I owe much of this book to my parents and, in particular, my father. He's been going to the Summer School for more years than seems possible. He valiantly took on the archive a decade ago and has done an amazing job filing and indexing and digitizing many of the resources. But some of the best stuff is in his head, which is why I'm looking forward to another week of music and long chats in the White Hart next month at this year's Summer School.
In the meantime, here are some moments remembered from his long career as Summer School helper, aka 'trog'.
Being a Trog gives particular insights into the character and personality of artists, never more so than in the green room. Before going on stage some are quiet and withdrawn, some calm and relaxed, while others are unnaturally boisterous.
After the performance their behaviour may be even more revealing. When the violinist Henryk Scherying came off after a particularly long recital the Trog, offering him a glass, said “You must feel tired after that.” The arrogant Szerying replied “Does a High Priest feel tired after saying mass?”
Coming off the platform for some it is elation, some ‘glad that’s over’, others quietly content. One evening when a Trog commented on the beautiful encore that Paul Tortelier had just played, he replied “Ah oui. Mais comme l’amour c’est trop court.”
After a performance people can be quite angry with themselves or others. Quite often quartets or duos would come off arguing. The singer Mary Thomas, having performed a lesser composer’s imitation of John Cage’s Aria, stormed into the green room with a black face, hurled the score right across the room – “RUBBISH” -, then turned round with the sweetest smile on her face and went out to receive her applause.
Then there is the unpredictable. One day, in the early years at Bryanston, Elizabeth Schumann was waiting to go on stage to give a lecture, and I, aged 19, was her attendant Trog. The previous lecture, John Clements speaking on the Chorus in Opera, was concluding with a record of the waltz from Gounod’s Faust. “Ah! Wunderbar!” cried Schumann, as she grabbed hold of me and waltzed all round the room with me. I subsequently begged that disc off John Clements and still have it to this day.
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