01 November 2012

A modern "Flying Dutchman"


The most inspiring performance of a Beethoven symphony that I have ever heard was when I was travelling aboard an old Second World War cargo boat hundreds of miles from land.

I was sitting outside the wireless room one evening in the tropics, lazily gazing up into a deep velvet sky studded, as far as the eye could see, with streams of brilliant, glittering stars.

Suddenly the heavy silence of the night was shattered by the startling sound of the two imperious introductory chords of the "Eroica" from the ship's extremely powerful receivers.

The effect was electrifying, and for the next 50 minutes or so (I lost count of time) both the radio operator and I sat transfixed, neither of us daring to move a finger for fear of missing a single note of this sublime work.

It was a miraculous performance in a romantic and magical setting and one that has forever remained one of the most treasured experiences of my life.

For anyone who may be interested, I have just posted an article about this voyage on my Blog at

The curious may, perhaps, wonder who the conductor was on that occasion. Would anyone care to guess?



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