To a player: 'We cannot expect you to be with us all of the time, but perhaps you would be good enough to keep in touch now and again. 'Why do we in England engage at our concerts so many third-rate continental conductors when we have so many second-rate ones of our own.' So said Sir Thomas Beecham, generally regarded as England's greatest conductor and known not only for the genius of his musicianship, but also for his colourful personality and pithy sayings. Stories about Sir Thomas abound, and Harold Atkins and Archie Newman have gathered together a wide selection of them. They show him in full sail at various stages of his career - witty, tongue-in-cheek, often ruthlessly clearsighted. There are incidents eccentric, trenchant, occasionally outrageous - but always hilarious and peculiar to the man. They recall the salty flavour of Sir Thomas in action, sometimes in harmony with those about hi, sometimes in violent discord, sometimes bent on rocking the boat, sometimes ranged against all comers. This entertaining volume captures the spirit of a remarkable man who brought an added joy and sparkle to so many people's lives.
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Harold Atkins was a Fleet Street journalist, a theatre critic, book reviewer and writer on the arts. Formerly in charge of the Daily Telegraph arts page, he first met Beccham when a special writer on the London Evening News. A former press officer with Associated Television, Archie Newman joined the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as its press and public relations officer in 1966. He is also a book reviewer and broadcaster.
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