Music Choice is the (TV) channel on which I listen to serious music. (Not always serious; sometimes silly, sometimes no better than background, but always entertaining.)
Music Choice broadcasts 24 hours every day without ads or explanatory voices. I have it on a lot. Today is no exception. Among the composers Music Choice selected for today was Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Vaughan Williams.
Now, Vaughan Williams wrote a lot of music. Nine symphonies and they are not slight. Today, Music Choice programmed his 2nd Symphony. Hold the 2nd in your thoughts for the few minutes it’ll take to read why I’m finding this funny.
This past week, the arts sections of media — especially New York media — ran stories and photos about the final performance of Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mighty, yet ultimately flawed, effort to exceed the endless London run of the Agatha Christie play, The Mousetrap (which opened in 1952, closed for COVID and reopened last year. Phantom ran for 35 years.)
And yes, I’m being snarky about Lloyd Webber. He (and T.S. Eliot) kept my brother employed for eighteen or so years so there’s that, but the few shows I’ve heard (Cats several times, of course) have not impressed me, except for the great New York performers who are gifted in creating magic out of dreck.
In my opinion, Lloyd Webber doesn’t have the ability to write music, so he does what other ungifted composers do: he puts together one big song, dedicated to being The Hit Song, for every show.
What you might not know is that he…uh…borrows? pays homage to?…successful composers who are not named Andrew Lloyd Webber. In short, he pulls good tunes from other composers, now dead. He’s extracted music from — and this is a limited list because I haven’t heard many of his shows — Puccini and Arthur Sullivan.
And — yes! Ralph Vaughan Williams, who wrote a tingly, strange musical run for his 2nd Symphony. Which is precisely the music and even the orchestration, from what I can hear, Andrew Lloyd Webber used as the music when I believe the chandelier crashes in Phantom.
The only question is whether a music maven at Music Choice poked Andrew Lloyd Webber by playing Vaughan Williams’ 2nd a few days after Phantom closed.
I, for one, appreciated this.