Edward Downes & Bread and Jam by ProQuest


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Portrait: June Mendoza

                                                 Edward Downes & Bread and Jam
                              dward Downes (1924-                                                          Otello in Florence       I he was smiling, put away the metronome,
                         E    2009) was a young
                         orchestral horn player when
                                                                                                           and one day when
                                                                                                           he was rehearsing
                                                                                                                                    and hugged Ted. He rescued lots of good
                                                                                                                                    repertoire – for example, Korngold’s masterly
                         I engaged him to play first                                                       they got to the last     Symphony in F sharp, of which he made a fine
                         horn in Anatole Fistoul-                                                          act. He told the         CD.
                         ari’s pick-up orchestra. He                                                       orchestra ‘As Des-          As time went on, Ted’s sight became min-
                         was master of his inst-                                                           demona cannot be         imal and he could conduct only those operas
                         rument and already a fine                                                         here this morning        that he knew by heart. His hearing went, too.
                         musician, personally a bit                                                        we’ll skip the Ave       The quality of life was dismal – unable to hear,
                         quirky – like most horn                                                           Maria and the            unable to read – he was passionately keen on
                         players. Round cheeked,                                                           Willow Song.’ One        reading. Then Joan got cancer. The rest you
                         thick goldfish-bowl spect-                                                        of a group of nuns       know: a dignified suicide with the two holding
                         acles, tall, but somehow he                                                       attending the re-        hands.
                         did not stand out in a                                                            hearsal rushed up           Ted Downes was good news for music. We
                         group. We found we                                                                to Ted: ‘Signor, we      mourn.                                       ■
                         shared a birthday and were                                                        are here solely
                         delighted to find it was the                                                      because of the Ave
                         same day as Stravinsky’s. A                                                       Maria.’ Ted then           Bread and Jam
                         Brummie lad, he had created laughter at the          got the orchestra to play the Ave Maria, and he              ossini once exclaimed how wonderful
                         Royal Academy when he spoke once at a
                         student discussion because of his thick accent.
                                                                              turned to the sisters and sang the soprano part
                                                                              to them in falsetto; a typical gesture. His
                                                                                                                                      R      opera would be if there were no
                                                                                                                                      singers, a thought that came to me forcibly
                         His response was to enrol for an English course      manner could sometimes be brusque and                   when sitting through Tristan, maybe for the
                         for foreigners at a language school, yet he never    business-like but he was really a kind and              last time. When Wagner writes melodically
                         quite lost his Midlands sound.                       friendly person – and by then he had be
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