From Blindingham Hall: does music run in the family?

From the blog of Blindingham Hall, jointly written by Catherine Rose and me… I recommend reading from the beginning…

Letters the Fifteenth and Sixteenth:
From Rogers to Lady Effingham; and from Lady Effingham to Rogers

Dear Lady Effingham,

Thank you so much for taking on Helga’s cause. Everyone in the servants’ quarters knows just how formidable you can be when you get your gander up. I’m sure you could take on the entire council on your own! Mr Dawson did say that once you single-handedly took on the entire Blindingham Cricket team and that the showers in the pavilion still don’t work properly to this day. I don’t understand how you could bowl and keep wicket at the same time, nor why that should involve the showers, but I never question Mr Dawson.

Will you be accompanying the vicar to the concert given by Julia Lloyds Banke, Blindingham’s leading international cellist? Of course, she is the sister of that most wonderful composer Andrea Lloyds Banke, who wrote such masterpieces as ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Bognor Regis’ and the musical based on the haikus of David Cameron, ‘Cuts’. Vauxhall says Mrs Lloyds Banke’s computer must have had a broken ‘n’ when she wrote that.

I’ve read that Julia now has a herniated disc in her neck – Vauxhall said it was just karma that she should get a pain in the neck – and she must give up playing cello forever! What a loss to the village music society!

But that got me thinking, Lady Effingham. The two sisters are arguably the most successful musicians in the county and their father, William Lloyds Banke, ran the Blindingham Academy of Music, didn’t he? So does musical talent always run in families? If my parents weren’t musical, do I have no chance of being a musician?

Little is known of my father, sadly. I think he must have been a jazz musician because my mother told me that he used to swing both ways. I told Mr Dawson and he wondered whether he’d ever had a play with my father. I had no idea Mr Dawson played jazz. His closet holds so many secrets.

We did have a fascinating discussion about Julia Lloyds Banke, although when I started talking about her wide vibrato, Helga immediately rushed from the room muttering something about milady’s batteries.

Many thanks again for helping me so much,

Yours humbly,

Rogers

-o-o-0-o-o-

Dear Rogers

First of all, I must thank you in return for (however inadvertently) reminding Helga of her duties.

I was very sad to hear about Julia Lloyds Banke – such a fine musician – but given what she sometimes got up to with the Royal Symphony Philharmonia over the years, I am surprised her neck lasted so long. I will call on her to offer my condolences and advice for the future management of her condition under times of physical stress. My husband is very knowledgeable about unusual methods of relaxation, and in fact I believe he and Julia were quite chummy at one point, so I might put them in touch again.

It is true that the Lloyds Bankes are a well-known family of musicians, and it is noticeable that musical ability very often runs in families. Take for example, the Bachs.

The most famous, Johann Sebastian, was the son of a musician (rather deliciously called Johann Ambrosius) and all his uncles and cousins were musicians (though we only really know about the male relatives – quite possibly his mother, aunts and sisters were musical too). He himself had two wives, both musicians, and 20 children, a record that I can only admire in awed silence.

Although they didn’t all survive into adulthood, many of them became professional musicians. The most famous were Johann Christian Bach, Carl Philippe Emmanuel Bach and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. The latter of these was a bit of a one, as my old nanny used to say, and used to write piano pieces for three players with the students playing the middle parts and the tutor (himself) playing the outer parts so he had to put his arms round both pupils. Here is a video of a version with six different people playing it – heaven knows what they are getting up to out of shot.

As to your own case, nil desperandum! History tells us of many composers whose parents were not in the least musical. As I have mentioned to you before, Haydn was the son of a blacksmith; in addition Berlioz’s father was a physician who actively discouraged him from learning music, and Tchaikovsky was the son of an engineer in the Department of Mines.

On the subject of success, this is a delicate matter. What is success, and how do you measure it? For the most illustrious, their place in history is paramount. JS Bach, for example, was not well-known until after his death, but is now seen as one of the greatest musicians ever. In the case of Andrea Lloyds Banke, I imagine that her bank balance is as good a guide as any to her achievements.

In the case of the Blindingham Cricket XI, the score book tells its own tale (indeed, I keep my own private score book to remind myself of their past glories).

Yours ever

Ophelia, Lady Effingham

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