Another kick in The Proms

Posted by @ 12:10 am on Sunday 12th September, 2010.

I well remember the good old days when the Last Night of The Proms was a real chance for a bit of good-natured enthusiasm for our national identity. A chance to enjoy some British classical music after 9 weeks of listening to foreign imports. Oh, and there was some "bobbing" to be done, too.

Well, according to the Beeb, that same ethos still applies: "While it lives up to its reputation of a fun Last Night party celebrating British tradition..." - sounds promising, eh?


It didn't deliver on that promise. We got the following:

  • Jonathan Dove A Song of Joys
  • Tchaikovsky Capriccio Italien
  • Tchaikovsky arr. Rysanov Rococo Variations
  • Parry Blest Pair of Sirens
  • R. Strauss Verführung, Op. 33 No. 1, Freundliche Vision, Op. 48 No. 1, Ständchen, Op. 17 No. 2, Winterweihe, Op. 48 No. 4, Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1
  • Chabrier Joyeuse marche
  • Smetana Dalibor – 'Dobrá! Já mu je dám! … Jak je mi?'
  • Dvorák Rusalka – Song to the Moon
  • Vaughan Williams Suite for viola and small orchestra – Prelude; Galop
  • Wagner Lohengrin – Bridal Chorus
  • Rodgers and Hammerstein Carousel – 'You'll never walk alone'
  • Trad, arr. Nic Raine Fisher's Hornpipe
  • Arne Rule, Britannia!
  • Parry, orch. Elgar Jerusalem
  • Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major ('Land of Hope and Glory')
  • The National Anthem

Sift the Brit-Grit out of that. Be careful, there ain't much there, and there were hardly any "bobbing" opportunities. How on Earth can anybody justify omitting works by Henry Wood, such as his Fantasia on British Sea Songs? FFS, Wood started the whole shebang, he conducted the Proms for almost half a century, his bust looks down over the whole show, and now he's snubbed.


Just in case you don't remember those good old days, here's what we used to get. British stuff. Red meat on the bone...

  • Elgar Pomp and Circumstance: Military March No. 4
  • Walton Crown Imperial
  • Elgar Enigma Variations: No. 9 Nimrod
  • Holst I vow to Thee, my Country
  • Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves
  • Elgar Chanson de matin
  • Coates London: No. 3 Knightsbridge
  • Handel Zadok the Priest (Coronation Anthem)
  • Clarke Trumpet Voluntary
  • Wood Fantasia on British Sea Songs
  • Arne Rule, Britannia!
  • Elgar Pomp and Circumstance: Military March No. 1
  • Parry Jerusalem
  • The National Anthem

There you go. Proper stuff.

We used to get British conductors too, but that's gone all "PC" as well.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a Nationalist by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that I get narked by this constant erosion of our national identity.

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14 Responses to “Another kick in The Proms”

  1. Robin Evans says:

    Couldn't agree more. Why are we (or more accurately "the establishment") so poor at promoting British composers. Vaughan Williams was one of the greatest composers of any country, yet performances of his works are quite sparse. Elgar and Britten are also top drawer composers. What about Bax who's hardly ever performed. Then there's Walton who's sadly neglected. This country also produced some brilliant second tier composers such as Bridge, Finzi, Rubbra, Butterworth and Holst. What about some Taverner for something different or even some McCabe or Rutter? The BBC has both lost its way and its credibility in everything.

  2. Kenny says:

    Good morning little Englanders! 😀 Missing days of Empire and old Queen Vic already? Last Night of the Proms - British? - Hah! It was about as British as the Oval! Jerusalem! After all the Empire chest thumping hogwash they've then the cheek to murder Auld Land Syne...and it's not even the original music! I actually quite enjoyed it in those days LOL ! And....why have I to sign in these days...barred in anticipation 😉

  3. BG! says:

    LOL, Ken... let's rate your comment...

    Englanders? I've just re-read my post and it does indeed say "British" in several places, not a mention of "English".
    Furthermore, Robin's comment refers to British, not English, composers. 10/10 effort, 0/10 attainment.

    The murder of Auld Lang Syne? If it's any consolation, this year they crucified the National Anthem. I'm not at all cut up about that, I regard it as an outdated ditty anyway, and completely inappropriate too as it's not National but Monarchistic. 5/10 effort, 10/10 attainment.

    Having to sign in? Hmm... 100% confusion... WTF are you on about?

    See me after class! You have a choice of castigation: Transportation to one of the Colonies, or a damned good rogering by a troop of public schoolboys.


  4. Kenny says:

    A not unreasonable response Stef 😆 .

    North of the border the words British and English are synonimouse...sinonymus...taken as being the same. 😉 Thus the British Empire was in fact the English Empire...the Scottish Empire having been blown away by a bloody stupid attempt at colonising Panama a few hundred years ago. The English national anthem (note the use of lower case) is a bigoted rant against the Scottish Nation carefully edited for public consumption and if sung in public in full would be considered an attempt to incite racial hatred and the singers liable to prosecution. Hopefully our learned friend Scott will back my interpretation 😀

    Vis-a-vis my castigation - I already thought I was in the colonies...which appears to leave me with a rather unwelcome alternative 😯 .

    Good news...your "Leave a Reply" service has automatically filled in my details this time...all blank last visit even though I visited from my blog link. Maybe it was feeling huffy earlier.

  5. BG! says:

    I can rely on Scott for an unbiased opinion 8)

    About that "Leave a Reply" thing - since I rejigged the discussion settings here, "Comment author must have a previously approved comment" (according to the admin blurb), but it seems that it doesn't take into account any approved comments prior to the rejig. You shouldn't need to leap through that fiery hoop ever again (so long as I don't fiddle with the admin settings again).

    Have you decided yet if you need the services of these burly lads? I only ask because they're getting restless and keep looking at me in a somewhat unnerving way ❗

  6. BG! says:

    Just checked a YouTube recording and it was only the first three verses. Odd, really, because Britain is only mentioned in the rubbish fifth, and verse 4 is the best of the lot, IMHO:

    Not in this land alone,
    But be God's mercies known,
    From shore to shore!
    Lord make the nations see,
    That men should brothers be,
    And form one family,
    The wide world over.

    Nowt wrong with that. Doesn't seem to be anti- anything.

  7. Kenny says:

    Dig deeper...various versions have existed through time;

    Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
    May by thy mighty aid,
    Victory bring.
    May he sedition hush,
    and like a torrent rush,
    Rebellious Scots to crush,
    God save the King.

    From France and Pretender
    Great Britain defend her,
    Foes let them fall;
    From foreign slavery,
    Priests and their knavery,
    And Popish Reverie,
    God save us all.

    Sectarian as well as racist! 😆 Ah ha!...The list of crimes increases by the minute. 😉

    Re the haven't considered recruiting from an all girls I thought not...sigh.

  8. Robin Evans says:

    Ken, if we are talking about an anthem that could be construed as a bigoted rant, what about "Flower of Scotland" sung before every rugby match (re: sending Edward homeward tae think again).

    The Act of Union was at the request of the Scottish to bail them out of bankruptcy.

    Why do the Scots insist on slagging off the English all the time? They really ought to grow up.

  9. BG! says:

    @Ken -

    Sources make it clear that the first verse that you quote was not used soon after 1745, and went out of use before the song became accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s. The second verse that you quote is anti-French.

    Anyway, at you behest I dug deeper:

    Jacobite beliefs were demonstrated in an alternative verse:

    God bless the prince, I pray,
    God bless the prince, I pray,
    Charlie I mean;
    That Scotland we may see
    Freed from vile Presbyt'ry,
    Both George and his Feckie,
    Ever so, Amen.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  10. BG! says:

    So, why is it that whenever I post anything here, or leave a comment elsewhere, about a celebration of "Britishness", up pops an argument (well-intentioned or otherwise) involving a Scot? I'm bemused.

  11. Kenny says:

    Oops...sorry...only leg pulling 🙁 . I'll sneak off quietly back to the blog.

  12. BG! says:

    Ken, you're as welcome to comment here as you always were. It's just that I've had situations where others pile in with vigour and venom without having read the whole thread, assuming it to be critical, completely unaware of (or intentionally ignorant of) the context, and betraying a bizarre need to drive the wedge ever deeper.

    I refer all readers back to the text of the version of verse 4 that I posted in comment no. 6 above.

  13. Scott says:

    Tell you the first thing I thought of when I read your verse 4 up there Stef: Robert Burns.

    "Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a' that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    It's coming yet for a' that,
    That Man to Man, the world o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that.

    (A Man's a Man For a' That)

    No' a million miles away.

    Oh, and I'm sure everyone agrees that the Proms would be much improved if they just played a continuous loop of Gilbert & Sullivan's greatest hits. Or is that just me?


  14. BG! says:

    Originally Posted By Scott

    Oh, and I'm sure everyone agrees that the Proms would be much improved if they just played a continuous loop of Gilbert & Sullivan's greatest hits. Or is that just me?


    It's probably just you, Scott. I'm not sure whether that means that you're a connoisseur or just plain weird 😕

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