Second Part

0:09:07 I know I am not a genius as I haven't written enough and that I have written has been in one specialist area; to be a genius in music there has to be a universality, and something that transcends its immediate time and place, which I don't think my work does; if you hear the things I have written they do speak to you of the choral culture of the time they were written; the little Christmas carols written in the 1960's are of the 1960's; you have to go much further than that and have a body of work in a number of different genres, I really don't; I would hope that the best of what I have done might get remembered; that is one of the reasons we compose, trying to lay your claim to a small piece of immortality; the thought that we will just be snuffed out at the end is always hard to live with; it is interesting that many musicians who perform would far rather do a concert than a recording; I am the opposite, because what I always feel about a concert is that it could have gone better, and it has all gone the next morning; a recording will potentially give pleasure for years to come; none of us knows how long our work will last; I suppose I am fairly immediate as I have mostly written for performing groups that I know in a situation that I know, but it would be nice to be remembered for some of the good things; as the works are published there are some I consider less good and feel embarrassed by; my best work is always the next piece; for most composers, their best pieces are those where they have discovered they could do something they did not know before, but there is no reason that that would be interesting to the public; in 1974 I wrote a children's opera on the theme of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot; I had never written for the stage before and I didn't know if I could do it; it wasn't until I actually saw and heard the thing happening on a real stage that I realized it worked; the piece has not been a great success because it is well beyond the resources of most average schools to do it, but I was pleased that it did work; why some pieces get hugely favoured by the public and others don't is a mystery to all of us

4:43:03 I like to have a time of gestation before writing; I don't do commissions any more because I had a bout of M.E. which is a bit like malaria in that it is periodic; if you are a professional composer accepting commissions you have to be able to deliver on time and with M.E. you just don't know if you will be well enough; I did make a good recovery but it took six or seven years; I respond to invitations and suggestions; I am just writing a piece for Ely Cathedral's 900th anniversary; I always try to find out as much as I can about the circumstances in which it will be performed; I don't work best in a vacuum and don't think that composers ever do; you want as many parameters laid down as possible and you would like the freedom to vary them if you find them too constricting; Giles Swayne, a composter friend of mine will be asked for a ten minute piece and come up with a forty minute piece because he says that once he gets started there is no stopping him; I like parameters laid down and if I am using text I like to have time to think about it and choose it; if it is pre-existing, I search widely, but sometimes I have to write my own; David Dimbleby asked me to write a piece for the Council for the Protection of Rural England of which he was President; said they wanted something to celebrate the environment and man's responsibility towards it; you won't find anything on that theme in the Bible; in the end I had to write my own text; the text comes first with me, then I like to think it over and decide a day on which I will start writing; I then try to keep fairly disciplined hours when I switch to the music; often the deadline dictates how long I have got to write it in; people often ask whether that is terrifying or destructive, or does it help; I think it does help though too tight a deadline forces you to accept the first thing that comes into your head; that is what happens with film music and you just have to hope that what comes into your head first is good; Mozart's widow reported that he was terribly particular about the opening idea and he would discard a hundred until he got to the right one; there is usually a period when you are assembling your raw material and you have to ask yourself whether it is possible to make something from it; the whole thing about composition is that you are stretching out in time a tiny idea; from that you gradually build an edifice using technique and your knowledge of musical structure, allowing new ideas to occur to you along the way; Beethoven, describing composition, said making much out of little; musical composition is highly technical, artificial, but it does start with an idea, and that can come to you any time and any place; it will often be inspired by a text; William Byrd said that if you find the right words then the melody comes almost as if by itself; Sullivan needed Gilbert, although it was a reluctant partnership towards the end, as they could both fly higher with the other; words and music partnerships are famously difficult; I have never had a words person with whom I have had a sustained partnership though I wish I did

13:29:24 I rewrite pieces as I go along, but once completed I leave it alone; what I generally do is not publish it until after the first performance so I can make necessary changes; once published you could, like William Walton, tinker with them, but I don't; during the process of writing, if I look at the sketches afterwards, I realize that I have come a very long way from the first germ of an idea to what I have ended up with; you rather rarely hit on the idea you want immediately, or the way of spinning it out; we can see this process in Beethoven's sketch books; his first ideas for the 'Eroica' symphony are terribly banal, repetitive and dull; if he had taken his first thoughts we would have had a dud symphony, instead we have a magnificent one; you have to constantly monitor what you are doing; if I can't solve a problem in composition, I take a short nap - I thought I was the only composer to do so but was relieved to find that Leonard Bernstein did the same; the other thing is to realize that if you are not managing to solve a problem then probably it won't solve; I can take quite pleasant strolls in the vicinity of my cottage and thatís usually where ideas settle down, it is similar to the cat nap in that you switch off for a short while and let the brain do its work at a level you can't control; there is so much you can't control about composition which you have to accept; there are days when nothing comes and another which will be fruitful; I suppose one of the reasons we can be neurotic is because we are trying to control the flow of a tap that we can't switch on and off; Stravinsky when asked when he got his best ideas replied when he was working; the best you can do is create the framework and circumstances where you hope the ideas will flow; beyond that it is all technique

17:41:11 I was at Clare College for more than three years; I did my B.A. in music and then did a Mus.B. the year after where I specialized in composition and in palaeography and criticism, which I enjoyed; then I began a Ph.D. which I never finished; what really happened was that composition claimed me; I would describe the Clare years as happy and fruitful; I was in an environment where people left me alone for large stretches of time to get on with what I wanted to do; somehow, at school, although it was strongly musical, a lot of my time was taken up with things like sport that I really didn't enjoy; finally I was let loose in music and had the run of the University Library; in those days there was only one weekly supervision, but I was a self-starter and knew I wanted to immerse myself in music and the opportunities it offered; I did a bit of conducting in College, encouraged by my Director of Studies, Nicholas Temperley; this was really the start of my publishing career; it was the end of the Michaelmas term and I thought it would be nice to have a few carols in it; I had a chamber orchestra and a choir and thought there was not much material for such a combination and decided to write some; David Willcocks heard about this and asked to see the manuscripts and asked if I would like them to be published; he was and is an advisory editor for Oxford University Press music department; he took my manuscripts down to the then senior editor, Christopher Morris; this was in my third year; I got an offer of publication by return of post, so I had a flying start; that would not have happened if I had not been here, or not been in David Willcocks' harmony and counterpoint class, so there was a strong element of luck, fulfilling the prophecy of Edward Chapman; I owe David Willcocks a huge debt as I would never have had the temerity to show my work to a publisher; so fruitful years, which laid the foundations for my career, and the freedom afterwards to spend time composing at taxpayers' expense; during my Ph.D. my motivation was a bit shaky for ever completing my thesis, partly because I chose the wrong topic; it was proposed by Hugh Macdonald, my director of studies in my last undergraduate year, who suggested investigating the increasing split in nineteenth-century culture between high art and popular art; at the beginning you have Schubert writing dance music for the dance halls of Vienna, then using the same language to write a symphony, and by the end of the century you have someone like Wagner who would never dream of writing something for a dance hall as it was so vulgar, and Strauss who wrote dance music but would never have written 'The Ring'; in less than eighty years you have two cultural streams diverging; I felt I couldn't grasp it really, it was too big a topic; I would have been much safer on something like the keyboard music of Orlando Gibbons where there is a limited field which you can reasonably master; I had to get my application in during the vacation and didn't really think it through; also I was working as a messenger at the BBC to make some money; the advice of Professor Sir Jack Westrup, which unfortunately I didn't hear at that time, was don't start on a Ph.D. unless you really want to find out the things that you will know by the end of it; I realise that I didn't, was getting drawn into composition, and was working as unpaid assistant to David Willcocks and learning a huge amount from that; he took me under his wing at a time when he was very heavily over-committed, so I was able to help out with some of the routine duties that he had; that probably did me more good than finishing a thesis; it was a very happy association with Cambridge and I think I knew that I wasn't going to leave; very much to my surprise, Clare College invited me to become Director of Music; the music fellow, Peter Dennison, who had been there in the early 1970's when the College had become mixed, professionalized the choir, so that rather than have the organ scholar do it he should conduct and give it seniority and continuity; he then went back to Australia in 1975 and there was a vacancy; I was invited to take it over so that the gains made in having a good choir were not lost; the stipend was £350 a year which was not princely, but my livelihood was composition; I was given a room, and after the first year, given a fellowship; it was an immensely happy time; I had been supervising a bit and had enjoyed that teaching role; I did it until I resigned; 1975 was an exciting time to become Director when there was a message to be got across to the musical world that there was no reason adult women couldn't sing music written for boy sopranos; they would not sound the same but be just as valid; it was possibly a bit cheeky being just yards from the mighty King's Chapel in the smaller, domestic Clare Chapel, performing some of the same music; that battle has now been fought and won, not least because groups like the Tallis Scholars, mixed professional groups, were singing the kind of material that was written for boys; that set the pattern for my musical life because I continue to have a strong conducting interest but I have never held a cathedral appointment with boys and men, nor would I know how to train boys voices, but I have worked with adult mixed choirs at every level; after my four years of Directorship at Clare I knew I couldn't keep it going forever because as the choir and my duties grew, so composition was squeezed; in 1979 I resigned; Clare said they liked the idea of a quasi-professional choir in the College and I advised them to create a full post of Director of Music, preferably without a faculty post and its duties; this was a unique post in Cambridge at the time but lots of colleges have copied it here and in Oxford; it is a source of great pride to me; when I left I formed the Cambridge Singers because I really didn't know until I gave up how I would miss having a choir of my own to work with; I was asked to do a Christmas television special from Salisbury Cathedral and the director assumed that I was still in charge of Clare choir and would bring them; he asked me to bring a mixed choir even though the Salisbury choir would be singing; got in touch with Harvey Brough, a tenor in Clare, and asked him to get together twenty-four of the best singers from the Clare choir that I had worked with; he managed to do this, we made the programme, and the producer asked for the name of the choir; I suggested 'Cambridge Singers' and that was the birth of the choir I have worked with ever since, though the personnel has changed; I decided it would be a choir dedicated to recording; if I got into the world of concerts and recitals I would never do any composition; since then we have made an average of two or three recordings a year for twenty-five years now; it has been a great source of pleasure in my life; as we speak today I have just come away from editing our most recent recording which I made earlier this month with a new generation of Cambridge Singers, young professionals who have mostly been through the Oxbridge chapel choir mill and understand the style and parameters; I enjoy it and don't have the ongoing responsibility of a day by day choir; I can't imagine a life without musical performance, just composition would be lonely and sterile; it is very eighteenth century really as the division between the composer and performer only came about in the nineteenth century - Handel would write an oratorio and he would play the organ part, Mozart would direct his own operas

32:44:17 I have started a record label and a small sheet music publishing sideline; all of that has come about because of the computer revolution; in the 1980's you could first get home computers which would do things for you, and in the 1990's along came computer software which allowed you to print music; I did not use the publishing company for my own music as I am published by Oxford University Press, but one of the nice things you can do is to print music anywhere in the world and pieces which I had recorded with the Cambridge Singers could be put in print for the first time; I would get letters from people all over the world asking where they could get copies of pieces we had recorded; the answer was often that they could not as I had prepared special recording editions in manuscript; at first I would allow them to make photocopies for their own choirs, but now I can do the thing properly; music publications have never made me any money but it has been a service to the music community, I hope, and given me a bit of satisfaction in being able to share; a much bigger sideline has been the record label because computer technology has made it possible to edit recordings at home which you couldn't do until the later 1980's, and digital technology has made that possible; digital CD's appeared in 1983 so a good time to start your own record labels because you were able to do more things in house, including CD booklet design; you can be a record company with less resources than ever was possible in the past; I never particularly meant to start a record label but I was engaged to make a recording in the early days of the Cambridge Singers and the contract looked bad as I would never have recouped the cost; Jo Anne, my wife, and I went out to dinner with an A4 notepad to think about what we could do, and one of us suggested a record label; we then thought up possible names and showed them to all the Cambridge record shops the next morning to test for the best reflection of choral music; they singled out 'Collegium' though we were very nearly 'Triad Recordsí; it began with just one release and grew step by step with the proceeds of the last recording financing the next; the sheet music publishing came on much later; I am a statistic in the home computer revolution because what I have done was always a sideline and would not have been possible until home computers came in; I do all my own editing and my assistant does design, all within our little office in the garden

37:23:06 'Carols for Choirs 1' was produced in 1960, published in 1961; David Willcocks co-edited it with Reginald Jacques who was the conductor of the Bach Choir; this - the green book - did extraordinarily well in publishing terms and as the years went by it became apparent to Oxford University Press that there would be a market for a second volume; by 1968, when David had written a number of fine new carol arrangements, I had come on the scene with my first publications in that genre; I think David had a discussion with them and suggested me as co-editor with him; despite the huge disparity in age and seniority, I was taken on as an equal partner and we had the happiest and smoothest of collaborations; we have both got picky and meticulous minds and for things like proof reading and sorting out the details of an anthology, we both work very well together; we would have many a session over the dining room table at David's home, and the book seemed to emerge really quite painlessly; it came out in 1970, so almost a ten-year gap between volumes one and two; in 1978 a third volume was added; volume four was an upper voices, for girls' schools, and came out in the early 1980's; after that we did a compendium of the best of all four volumes, called Ď100 Carols for Choirs', and we worked together on that in 1987; I think the two of us had good chemistry as collaborators, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him; to be associated with such a publishing phenomenon was very lucky for me in those early years of my career; a reason that we carried on was to be in touch with such a kind and supportive mentor, colleague and friend

41:20:00 I have continued to live in Cambridge with my family and I think we really have lived in a golden age for people who love choral music in this city; of course Cambridge has always been noted for its choirs, going back to Orlando Gibbons being in King's College choir in the 1590's; in modern times it is really with the coming of Boris Ord in the post-war years at King's that the recording profile began to rise; at St John's, George Guest; from then the excellence and fame of Cambridge choirs has grown and grown, given a huge boost by the coming of mixed colleges from 1972; we are now in a situation where we haven't just got two fine collegiate choirs in Cambridge but probably a dozen, and growing all the time; you can walk down Trinity Street and drop in on a lovely choral evensong any week of any term; I don't believe that there is another city in the world like it, not even Oxford though they are catching up; for the devotees of choral music this is the place to live; there are probably more gifted choir directors per square half mile in this city than anywhere else in the world; when people are questioning the extra-curricular activities of universities and cutting budgets, it is extraordinary that this wonderful flowering, nurtured by so many colleges, is taking place and growing the whole time; flying in the face of a quite depressing national trend where choral singing is struggling; State schools largely gave up on any form of single or group singing so no school choirs in many of them; the independent sector keeps it alive; church choirs are becoming extinct in many places; in Cambridge we are absolutely spoilt for choice; something rather lovely that this University has nurtured it; I am immensely proud of my university for having played host to such an extraordinary flowering, and that is the Cambridge I will remember if I ever move away; it is what a university should be