Posts Tagged ‘Tom Stoppard’

‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favour’ – this Sat. AM on KWUR

Friday, March 4th, 2011

It may seem odd, if not unseemly, to put in a promo KWUR blog post for one particular selection that will open my classical show this Saturday at 11 AM, since I like to air offbeat works much of the time anyway.  However, there are a few special reasons here to promote this selection, the 1977 musico-dramatic collaboration between playwright Tom Stoppard and conductor/composer Andre Previn, "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour".  First performed in 1977, this work is set in a USSR-era political prison, where one prisoner is a political dissident, and the other is genuinely mentally ill and imagines that he can conduct an orchestra on command.  Hence the presence of an orchestra in this work.  You can read more about the work from articles such as these:

(a) December 2008 Times of London interview with Stoppard and Previn

(b) January 2009 primer from Mark Espiner, The Guardian, on the play

(c) The National Theatre's page on their 2010 revival of the play

The other main reason for promoting this work is the source of the recording.  To my knowledge, there is only one recording of this work, on RCA, made right after the premiere, with a distinguished cast of actors and Previn himself conducting the London Symphony Orchestra.  In addition, it's not available on CD, AFAICT.  The recording to be broadcast from KWUR this Saturday morning, ~ 11 AM, is from the private collection of Dr. Alfred Holtzer, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Washington University.  Dr. Holtzer and I occasionally meet at concerts, and knowing about my KWUR show, he was kind enough to offer this recording for airplay at KWUR, for what may be its 1st-ever broadcast in St. Louis.  (So I have to take really good care of the LP, needless to say.)  The cast includes:

i. Ian Richardson (Ivanov, the mental patient who imagines the orchestra in his head)

ii. Ian McKellen (Alexander Ivanov, the imprisoned dissident)

iii. Patrick Stewart (the Doctor)

Dr. Holtzer also has a past connection to KWUR, as he was the faculty advisor to a group of students back in the 1970's who had the idea of setting up a campus radio station.  With funds allocated to him to serve as a faculty advisor to any Wash. U. student group, he directed the funds to this group of students.  The result is the station that is still going 30+ years later.  I sincerely thank Dr. Holtzer for the opportunity to present this recording from KWUR this Saturday.

In addition, in keeping with KWUR's mission of airing out-of-the-mainstream selections, if I were a betting man, I'd be willing to wager that neither KWMU, 90.7 FM nor the late and much-missed KFUO, 99.1 FM have aired this work.  Hence my claim that this will be the St. Louis broadcast premiere.  This, after all, is why alternative radio stations exist, to air selections that wouldn't be heard otherwise.  So if you're in your car near campus or are at your computer this Saturday around 11 AM, please feel free to listen in.