Monthly Archives: November 2013

Banks, finance and what could be.

The people of Costa Rica believe small is beautiful since they have retained their banks over tremendous outside pressure. In contrast one of the UK’s mutual banks, the Co-operative has fallen prey to the voracious appetite of the banking world of hedge funds and those who have the power to do what they want with available wealth, whoever it belongs to. Labour sadly joined Tories and friends in attempting to make this a large corporate organisation. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em I suppose is the philosophy.

The transition of the UK amongst others of changing from an industrial base, which produced tangible wealth to the country, to the paper-based finance dominated economy, began years back. My Father set up his own business manufacturing and selling equipment for use on farms and industrial sites. One day the Distillers Company took charge and it was an accountant who made decisions about the company’s future. What he knew about industry I don’t know, but it didn’t seem to matter. From then on it didn’t have a future.

The practice of accountants running things has snowballed as large off-shore corporations take charge of our lucrative public services running councils, schools, health services, prisons and security. With them it doesn’t seem to matter how well they do or don’t perform, they are the Untouchable.

I seem to remember that as the established accountancy firms began to take control Capita came into prominence, I thought with Labour’ support at the time. If the Tories could do it they should get in on the act and compete. Of course Capita is now huge and undistinguishable from any other corporation. It dominates Birmingham City Council and is adept at getting its fingers into every pie at a huge cost to us as tax payers. Two Capita stories were prominent in yesterday’s news. The first in the Birmingham Post reported on the massive charges Capita were making for providing a website for the New Birmingham Public Library. As the libraries await a decision on a sell off we find our money going into someone else’s pocket. Capita were in the news previously for the delays and incompetence in setting up the Council’s website.

The second Capita story is about one of their executives pronouncing the need for bigger and better wars, the lack of which he opined had led to the demise of large sections of Britain’s armed forces. This is usually an unstated reality of the raison d’etre of the huge industrial-military complexes of the world, bit occasionally someone will state the unmentionable truth. Trust Capita.

Beethoven and Bridgetower

In reading Alexander Thayer’s “Life of Beethoven” on the years 1802-3, the time of the “Eroica” Symphony, I was stopped short by reference to a young violinist selected to take part in performances some of the composer’s compositions.

Thayer writes:

“…..we have sight of Beethoven again in private life
Dr Joh. Th. Held, the famous physician and professor in Prague, then a young man of just the composer’s age (he was born on 11 December 1770) accompanied Count Prichowski on a visit to Vienna. On the evening of 16 April these two gentlemen met Beethoven in the street. He, knowing the Count, invited them to Schuppanzigh’s. ‘where some of his pianoforte sonatas which had been transcribed as string quartets were to be rehearsed’. In his manuscript autobiography Held writes:

‘We met a number of the best musicians gathered together, such as the violinists Krumbholz, Moser (of Berlin), the mulatto Bridgethauer, who in London had been in the service of the then Prince of Wales, also a Herr Schreiber and the 12 year-old Kraft who played second…..’

The ‘Bridgethauer’ mentioned by Held – whose incorrect writing of the name conveys to the German its correct pronunciation – was the American ship captain qho associated much with Beethoven’ mentioned by Schindler.
George August Polgreen Bridgetower – a bright mulatto then twenty-four years old, son of an African father and a German or Polish mother, an applauded public violinist in London at the age of ten years, and long in the service, as musician, of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV – was never in America and knew as much probably about a ship and the science of navigation as ordinary shipmasters do of the violin. In 1802 he obtained leave of absence to visit his mother in Dresden and to use the waters of Teplitz and Carlsbad, which leave was prolonged that he might spend a few months in Vienna. His playing in public and private at Dresden had secured him such favourable letters of introduction as gained him a most brilliant reception in the highest musical circles of the Austrian capital, where he arrived a few days before Held met him at Schuppenzigh’s. Beethoven, to whom he was introduced by Prince Lichnowski, readily gave him aid in a public concert. It has an interest on account of Beethoven’s connection with it; for the day of the concert was the date of the completion and performance of the ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata. Ries writes:

‘The famous sonata in A minor, Op. 47. with concertante violin, dedicated to Rudolph Kreutzer in Paris, was originally composed by Beethoven for Bridgetower, an English artist. Here things did not go much better [Ries had referred to the tardiness of the composition of the horn sonata which Beethoven wrote for Punto], although a large part of the first Allegro was ready at an early date. Bridgetower pressed him greatly because the date of of his concert had been set and he wanted to study his part. One morning Beethoven summoned me at half after 4 o’clock and said “Copy the violin part of the first Allegro quickly.” The pianoforte part was noted down only here and there in parts. Bridgetower had to play the marvellously beautiful theme and variations in F from Beethoven’s manuscript at the concert because there was no time to copy it. The final Allegro, however was beautifully written, since it originally belonged to the Sonata in A major (Op. 30)which is dedicated to Czar Alexander. In its place Beethoven, thinking it was too brilliant for the A major Sonata, put the variations which now form the finale’

Bridgetower, when advanced in years, taking with Mr Thirwell about Beethoven, told him that at the time of the Sonata, Op. 47. was composed, he and the composer were constant companions, and that the first copy bore a dedication to him; but before he departed from Vienna they had a quarrel about a girl, and Beethoven then dedicated the work to Rudolph Kreutzer.”

The story of Bridgetower and Beethoven is related elsewhere telling how his playing impressed the composer resulting in the dedication. Because of the quarrel over a woman to whom Beethoven was fond at the time it was re-dedicated to Kreutzer by whose name it became famous. We are told that Kreutzer, himself a famed violinist, had said it was too difficult for him to play and had no liking for Beethoven’s music.

It is thought that Bridgetower’s father may have come from Barbados, the capital of which is Bridgetown. We know that he performed in Paris in the late eighteenth century at a time when another musician whose mother was African and who came to Paris from Guadaloup was well known and active at the time. Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de St Georges, had influenced Mozart as the initiator of the Sinfonia Concertante form. He was also the intermediary in the commissioning of Haydn’s 6 Paris Symphonies (nos. 82-7) and conducted their first performance. The first the three of these evidently prompted Mozart to give the keys of E flat major, G minor and C major to his last three great symphonies.

Further information