LondonOjftu: · I lOA, Soho Square,
Edited by COMPTONMACKENZm
TELEPROla: Regent 7977, 7978.
Parmaxto, Weatoent, London.
IN some ways the most interesting record of the last month has been that of Arnold Dolmetsch and various members of his family· playing two Fantasies for two viols by Thomas Morley and a Fantasy for six viols by Richard Dering. The Columbia Company is to be congratulated on thus giving permanence to a style of music which can only be interpreted authoritatively in these days byone,like Arnold Dolmetsch, who has devoted his whole life to the preservation of sixteenth and seventeenth century musie. Many years ago-over twenty-five, indeedi t fell to the lot of the London Editor of THE GRAMOPHONE to write my "Isis Idol." . Every week in the Isis-which is the undergraduate organ of Oxford University-a page is devoted to a photograph and a would-be humorous character study of some member of the University who is usually more prominent for his brawn than his brain. For some thirty-five years a procession of young athletes has marched by at the rate of eight a term. Occasionally, but very occasionally, to vary the mtmotony of a long line of dark blue, a few breakaways from athletes, like · Presidents of the Union or of the O.U.D.S., have been idolised. I was one of these breakaways. At the end of the character study written by the London Editor of myself appears the following sentence: "He confesses to an indifference to music except as rendered by Mr. Dolmetsch," and here I am now twenty-five years later having to admit that, greatly as I still respect Mr. Dolmetsch and intensely as I appreciate what he has done for the antiquarian side of music, I am no longer able to enjoy i t as much as I did. Now I ask myself if my taste has deteriorated in twenty-five years or i.f, as I prefer to think, i t has, in widening, improved. Perhaps some of ,t he charm which Mr, Dolmetsch and his fellow players then cast over me was due to the picturesqueness of the Elizabethan costumes they used to wear while playing and to the old-world beauty of the instruments they played. Virginals, viola d'amore, viola da gamba, ~avichord, the mere names of such instruments would have prejudiced any romantic y oung man twenty-five years ago to -suppose that the music they gave forth had some .special fragrance of i ts own. I remember about this lPeriod being :invited to act with the late AleC Ross
and A. Forbes Sieveking in a one-act play by Thomas Heywood, called" vVorke for Cutlers." Sieveking, as I recall the occasion, had discovered a manuscript hidden away in the l ibrary of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where presumably i t had lain undisturbed ever since i ts first and only performance at Trinity Hall. Now, some 300 years later, i t was to be revived and played again in the College garden during the long vacation. The play itself was not of great interest except to swordsmen, being a rather elaborate conceit-laden dialogue b-etween Sword, Rapier, and Dagger, full of allusions not very obvious to an average audience. Captain Hutton, the great swordsman, came up to overlook the swordsmanship-a fine figure of a man, with a 'white moustache and a small pointed beard and the dark and l ight blue Bath Club tie. With his wide-brimmed grey felt hat and his superb swashbuckling manner, he did not need ruff or doublet, for I am sure he was much more like an Elizabethan than any of the three actors who were dressed up to play the parts of Elizabethans in the quaint old play. I was playing Rapier, whose business i t was to argue the superiority of his weapon over Sword, with Dagger acting as adjudicator between them. I wore a magnificent costume of black and gold with an immense ruff in which, under the July sun, I felt extremely hot, and most vividly do I remember the size of the rapier I carried, which was a genuine Elizabethan weapon, specially brought down for the occasion and lent by Captain Hutton. I t cannot have been less than six feet long, and I know i t took all my skill to carry i t with an air. Both before and after the play the audience was beguiled by enchanting·music played by the Dolmetsch family, they too dressed in Elizabethan costumes. I have seldom enjoyed music as much as I enjoyed the music on that fine summer afternoon a quarter of a century ago. Indeed, the whole experience was full of charm. Cambridge was exquisitely at peace in the heart of · the long vacation. We were entertained to a delightful dinner by the late Master of Trinity Hall in the Combination Room, and as I write these words I can still see that round and genial face shining through the College silver like a moon. I enjoyed the hospitality of Professor Clifford Allbutt, who was then R egius Professor of Medicine, and I remember