From Mrs Madeleine Beard
Sir, David Clayton's article about the composer Frederick Stocken (June 9) was excellent journalism. I have had the privilege of listening to performances of Stocken's work and I can assure you that the inner confines of the musical establishment are aware of his genius. His work shows extraordinary depth and versatility. The Lament performed this year both at the Holocaust Museum and in Sarajevo drew expressions of profound gratitude from survivors of these two terrible 20th century tragedies, to whom this moving work was dedicated. Earlier this year the Symphony for the Millennium, later broadcast on Classic FM, received a standing ovation at the Albert Hall. The composer had to be brought back to acknowledge the applause from an audience who had listened to this majestic work for the first time. The warmth of the German reaction to the Alice ballet as well as the appreciation of the Missa Paris performed at the London Oratory are a further testimony to the ability of a young composer to produce music that shall certainly stand the test of time. How lucky we are to have such a truly Catholic composer in this country. I congratulate David Clayton on such an accurate and sensitive article.
Yours faithfully, MADELEINE BEARD Cambridge CB3 9JE From Mr David Clayton Sir, Contrary to what Damian Thompson says in his letter of June 23, it was critics who likened Frederick Stocken to Mahler and Purcell; the comparison to Bach was in a written quote from the singer, Martin Hill. There were others not mentioned:AN Wilson called him "a new Elgar".
Every composers work indicates the influence of others and this is different from "insipid pastiche", unless you wish to say that Mozart is a pastiche of Haydn. The argument is that beauty is timeless, so it is irrelevant when these composers lived. Furthermore, Stocken cannot be a pastiche of all the composers mentioned, unless they are pastiche of each other. Isn't it unlikely that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea would commission a symphony to be premiered by the Royal Philharmonic at the Albert Hall and broadcast on Classic FM, from a composer whose past work was seen as insipid?
In reference to Beethoven's faith I did not say that he was a Catholic, I simply indicated that he had a strong faith in God. I can see that my use of the word "devout" would suggest that I meant Catholic faith, though that was not my intention.
Beethoven was experimental, true, and he was original. He was also popular during his own lifetime and even his more difficult pieces did not take long to gain acceptance. On the other hand,
for example, it is now 90 year?: since Schoenberg produced his first atonal piece. Given thaf communications and recording allow for much faster dissemination of information, one would, expect the acceptance period to be shorter than in Beethoven't time, not longer. Yet "modern"music still has relatively little appeal: just look at the CD sales.
Regarding the Hecklers: in fact there was an error in my piece the Hecklers did not attend "concerts" (plural), they attended, just one concert. This was at the Barbican 6 years ago. There was no interruption; they simply booed while others applauded. The shock waves went on for months caused,in my opinion, by real fear that' people would start to react to whai they heard. rather than simply accepting the complex justifications. Also, if it is not permissible to show displeasure at a perfori mance, doesn't it render any applause as worthless? ai
The Hecklers represent an interesting biographical detail, but they have no relevance to the consid: eration of the quality of Stocken's music, which Mr Thompson, clearly, does not rate highly. He is entitled to his opinion.
However, the readers do riot, have to believe either of us they, can go to hear his symphony g Holland Park on July 16 and make their own minds up.
Yours faithfully, DAVID CLAYTON London SW18