Two friends shaped my interest in music. Richard I’ve already mentioned (See “I Told You So”). X came earlier and our friendship ended unpleasantly, hence the need to hide his true identity.
X dates back to mono LPs. He was widely knowledgeable and became a leader writer on The Times and then The Daily Telegraph. He introduced me to Beethoven, Respighi, Stravinsky, Holst and Elgar in particular, and the evolution of European music in general. But I paid a price. He didn’t like Mozart and my later rehabilitation took some time.
X liked jazz and used to play trumpet along with Ellington and Stan Kenton records. He taught me the rudiments of trumpet-playing and gave me his old trumpet when he bought a replacement. Again I paid a price.
His preference was for the high-note jazz-men, especially William Cat Anderson and Maynard Ferguson (left and right above respectively), and they became my favourites. But it was a very unbalanced view of jazz. Years passed before I was able to appreciate Miles Davies.
Despite the painfulness of our rupture he provided a large early chunk of my musical education. However, as I say, nothing comes for nothing. X was an extremely good journalist, widely read and powerfully opinionated. I was lucky to know him but he wasn’t well liked and impartiality wasn’t one of his qualities. He didn’t care to hear any of my independent opinions. When he pooh-poohed my view that string quartets might represent the most advanced form of musical language I realised he had nothing more to tell me.
Tone Deaf has already shown that music can be a “difficult” enthusiasm. Getting started often requires a kick up the backside. X kicked well and the word “friend” has no simple definition.