Author Topic: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.  (Read 275 times)

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Offline Irons

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Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« on: November 21, 2020, 02:35:49 AM »
Ninety is a good age but sad to hear of the passing of the music critic Robert Layton. From the mid 1970's I bought each edition of the Penguin Stereo Record Guide with great excitement and immersed myself in the sage words of Edward Greenfield, Ivan March and Robert Layton, all now passed away. Robert Layton was an authority on Scandinavian music and recordings, many collections in this area and beyond are built from the confidence and trust in his clear and precise reviews.

  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2020/11/16/robert-layton-musicologist-radio-producer-quirky-sense-humour/
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2020, 04:28:18 AM »
Sorry to hear this. I always read his reviews with interest, whilst not always agreeing with him, especially over Pettersson whose music he invariably described as demonstrating 'rampant self-pity'. His book on Sibelius was excellent however. Sadly the Telegraph site has a pay wall.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2020, 04:57:11 AM »
Sorry to hear this. I always read his reviews with interest, whilst not always agreeing with him, especially over Pettersson whose music he invariably described as demonstrating 'rampant self-pity'. His book on Sibelius was excellent however. Sadly the Telegraph site has a pay wall.
I'll have to keep an out out for that Sibelius book; thanks for mentioning it.

Yes, I had purchased several editions of those massive Penguin guides over the years which particularly helped me as a newbie.  I enjoyed curling up with them in a chair; felt rather like I had access to reading the original copy of a musical Bible.  Loved spending hours wandering through it and studying the comments about the different recordings.  Sorry to hear of his passing.   :(

PD

Offline Christo

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2020, 04:59:33 AM »
Robert Layton's 'Guide to the Symphony' used to be my guide in the dark for many years, before the Internet took over. I think I owe my admiration for Vagn Holmboe to him.

… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2020, 06:00:09 AM »
Sorry to hear this. I always read his reviews with interest, whilst not always agreeing with him, especially over Pettersson whose music he invariably described as demonstrating 'rampant self-pity'. His book on Sibelius was excellent however. Sadly the Telegraph site has a pay wall.
Jeffrey, looking at Amazon, it looks like he had written several books on Sibelius.  Which one were you referring to?  Is it the Master Musician's one (looks like he revised an earlier book on Sibelius that he had written)?

PD

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2020, 06:58:32 AM »
Jeffrey, looking at Amazon, it looks like he had written several books on Sibelius.  Which one were you referring to?  Is it the Master Musician's one (looks like he revised an earlier book on Sibelius that he had written)?

PD

The one I have is Master Musicians PD. Yes, like you, I spent hours and hours browsing through those Penguin guides. I also really liked the silver Symphony Guide which Christo mentioned above.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 07:00:50 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2020, 07:52:48 AM »
Thanks Jeffrey.  :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 02:40:22 AM »
In the Pelican book 'The Symphony: Volume 2 'Elgar to the Present Day' (Publ. 1967/1977)
Robert Layton wrote the chapters on Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Martinu and the Czech Tradition and Vagn Holmboe and the Later Scandinavians. I've used this book so much that it has fallen to bits. Certainly it will have introduced me to many composers and, just for one example, I very much share his enthusiasm for Hilding Rosenberg's 3rd and 6th symphonies. Layton also contributed to Volume 1 but I don't have a copy of it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Biffo

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 03:19:30 AM »
In the Pelican book 'The Symphony: Volume 2 'Elgar to the Present Day' (Publ. 1967/1977)
Robert Layton wrote the chapters on Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Martinu and the Czech Tradition and Vagn Holmboe and the Later Scandinavians. I've used this book so much that it has fallen to bits. Certainly it will have introduced me to many composers and, just for one example, I very much share his enthusiasm for Hilding Rosenberg's 3rd and 6th symphonies. Layton also contributed to Volume 1 but I don't have a copy of it.

I have pretty much the same experience of the Pelican books, both of mine are very battered. Layton contributed a chapter on Berwald to Vol 1. I always used to enjoy the reviews RL contributed to Gramophone.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 03:52:31 AM »
The initial source of my Holmboe obsession...

Rest in peace.
I am now working on a discography of the works of Vagn Holmboe. Please visit and also contribute!

Offline relm1

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2020, 06:51:08 AM »
In the Pelican book 'The Symphony: Volume 2 'Elgar to the Present Day' (Publ. 1967/1977)
Robert Layton wrote the chapters on Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Martinu and the Czech Tradition and Vagn Holmboe and the Later Scandinavians. I've used this book so much that it has fallen to bits. Certainly it will have introduced me to many composers and, just for one example, I very much share his enthusiasm for Hilding Rosenberg's 3rd and 6th symphonies. Layton also contributed to Volume 1 but I don't have a copy of it.

Is it pretty much like program notes of each work or does it take a more historical musicological approach - how one work takes up where a previous work left off to further develop the structure used in late 20th century symphonies...how we got to where we are now?

Offline Christo

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2020, 07:11:05 AM »
In the Pelican book 'The Symphony: Volume 2 'Elgar to the Present Day' (Publ. 1967/1977)
Robert Layton wrote the chapters on Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Martinu and the Czech Tradition and Vagn Holmboe and the Later Scandinavians. I've used this book so much that it has fallen to bits. Certainly it will have introduced me to many composers and, just for one example, I very much share his enthusiasm for Hilding Rosenberg's 3rd and 6th symphonies. Layton also contributed to Volume 1 but I don't have a copy of it.
Exactly the same here, a friend gave me a copy as a present in 1980 or so - and I simply followed all all of Robert Layton's advices.  ;D
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Irons

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2020, 12:53:30 AM »
Sorry to hear this. I always read his reviews with interest, whilst not always agreeing with him, especially over Pettersson whose music he invariably described as demonstrating 'rampant self-pity'. His book on Sibelius was excellent however. Sadly the Telegraph site has a pay wall.

Looking through my copy of "Gramophone. The first 75 years" I came this from James Jolly: For me an ideal review is one where the critic clearly does not care for the performance himself but manages to convey the essence of the interpretation in a way that allows the reader to judge whether it is likely to fulfil his expectations. 
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2020, 01:02:18 AM »
Is it pretty much like program notes of each work or does it take a more historical musicological approach - how one work takes up where a previous work left off to further develop the structure used in late 20th century symphonies...how we got to where we are now?

I think that it's analytical enough (with some musical examples) for those with a technical understanding, but also approachable enough for the general music lover. So, I think that it's a kind of combination of both the approaches that you refer to.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2020, 01:05:01 AM »
I have pretty much the same experience of the Pelican books, both of mine are very battered. Layton contributed a chapter on Berwald to Vol 1. I always used to enjoy the reviews RL contributed to Gramophone.
Yes, me too re. Gramophone. He was sadly the last survivor the trio who wrote all those mammoth Penguin Guides etc, the others being Edward Greenfield and Ivan March.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Online The new erato

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2020, 05:19:35 AM »
He was hugely influential on me when my interest in classical music started 45 years ago. I have some Penguin guides and a couple of his books. He influenced my interest in Bruckner, Nielsen and Sibelius amongst others. 

Offline Christo

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Re: Robert Layton 1930 - 2020.
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2020, 05:22:36 AM »
He was hugely influential on me when my interest in classical music started 45 years ago. I have some Penguin guides and a couple of his books. He influenced my interest in Bruckner, Nielsen and Sibelius amongst others.
Very much the same story here, starting around 40 years ago: I owe Nielsen, Holmboe and I think Martinů to his influence.
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948