Hatched… Cooked…


Silhouette showing Heinrich Schenker preparing to engage in structure-prolongation analysis, August 1934.

As it happens, I’m a person with a lot of heroes. Whether or not readers will find this fact surprising, I don’t know; but the truth really is that there must be a hundred inspiring individualsĀ  — most of them dead, but one or two very much alive! — whose example energizes me in my everyday life, and whose standards and achievements I take as the best kind of guidance.

As far as the musical and musicological side of things is concerned, my heroes number in the dozens; but there are three who are particularly important to me. In merely alphabetical order, these are Deryck Cooke (1919-76), Hans Keller (1919-1985) and Robert Simpson (1921-1997). All three of them were magnificently insightful writers on music; all three were good and close friends to each other; all three worked for the (culturally) pre-lapsarian BBC, where they proved themselves marvellous broadcasters as well; and, perhaps significantly, all three of them could and did compose (though only Simpson was officially ‘a composer‘). At the present moment — and for reasons I won’t bore anyone with — Cooke is very much on my mind; and what I want to do here is share with readers the latest (and very recent!) stage in my comprehension of a small but substantial article that he published in the BBC magazine The Listener in 1968. Continue reading