Last month, I had the privilege of hearing a recital by students of Jason Vieaux at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Vieaux is one of the leading guitarists—classical guitarists—in the world. One of his students played a movement from the Sonatina by Lennox Berkeley, composed in 1957.
Berkeley—Sir Lennox—was an English composer who lived from 1903 to 1989. He composed the sonatina for Julian Bream, the great English guitarist who occasioned much new repertoire. In the early 1950s, Berkeley composed an opera, Nelson, which is about the legendary admiral and his affair with Lady Hamilton. The libretto was composed by Alan Pryce-Jones. For a time, the Pryce-Joneses rented the top floor of the Berkeleys’ house.
David Pryce-Jones—son of Alan and Thérèse—once told me a story that I thought of when I saw Lennox Berkeley’s name on the program in Cleveland. You will enjoy it as much as I did, I bet.
The Berkeleys and the Pryce-Joneses were having a meal together. Suddenly, the composer seemed elsewhere, lost in space, perhaps staring ahead. Mrs. Berkeley, or Lady Berkeley, explained, “Lennox is having an idea” (a musical one, surely).
May we all have ideas. Good ones.