>>Peter Redstone writes:
>>Beecham's other comment on the sound of the harpsichord was to
>>the sound to "beating a birdcage with a toasting fork".
>Oh, dear. Documentation is a dilemma in such famous quotes
>instances. I've always known this line thusly: A student asked
>Vaughan Williams why he had not written anything using the
>harpsichord. He is to have replied, "If I wanted the sound of a
>brass birdcage beaten with a spoon, I'd have scored for it."
>So unless a reporter noted down carefully that "this afternoon,
>Maestro Beecham mentioned...." or the student transcribed in his
>diary, "I asked Dr. VW..., and he said...." how are we to know?
I heard the story about the birdcage and toasting fork from Lammond
Clelland in the early 50s when he was a flautist with the Bournemouth
Symphony. he had previously played in the Royal Philharmonic under
Beecham from whom he heard it. It seems that a harpsichord had been
used in a program, and afterwards Beecham expressed his opinion of
it! The story emerged because I expressed my interest in the empty
case of a spinet he (Clellend) owned, my telling him he ought to have
it resuscitated and made playable again. (I wish I could get my hands
on that case today!)