R.R. Bennett

I'm pleased to see that BBC Radio 3 is currently celebrating Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's 70th birthday in quite a big way. He's Composer of the Week this week. It makes such a nice change for them to be celebrating a decent contemporary composer for once, instead of the usual purveyors of dreary and long-winded cacophonies who are held up as models most of the time. Bennett is an infinitely more musical and genuinely worthwhile creative artist than the Maxwell Davies's and Birtwistles of this word, let alone all the other minor figures who constitute the sadly threadbare world of British classical composing today. I often reflect on how different things are now from when I was a kid, when people of the stature of Britten, Tippett, Walton, Bliss, et al. were alive and producing, and new works by them were coming out all the time and were genuine major events. There are simply no modern British composers of that calibre alive today, however much the 'new music' hacks and propagandists try to say otherwise. The only notable figures are distinctly second-rank. In fact I am hard put to think of more than 3 or 4 composers of any real, lasting worth in this country today, and R.R. Bennett is certainly one of them. It's a puzzling state of affairs


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