‘Francis Huxley and the ‘guiding light’ of Bach.

But now, I shall digress in my account.

In 2002, I wrote this piece, when my memory of this meeting was much fresher, I shall now recount what I wrote then.

‘My father was a friend of Francis, and they shared many interests. Primarily, a curiosity about how human beings try to make sense of the world; the spiritual journeys that we take; and the longing for transcendence and ‘meaning structure’. Francis saw my father as a one-off urbanite shaman.  But I was no match for Francis’ formidable intellect. He had the questions – but I was unable to provide the answers’.

In despair, Francis decided to show me round his splendid front room, patiently describing the various pieces and their provenance to me. I was engrossed and fascinated.  Francis appeared exhausted.  Later, he went off to make some coffee; and I was told to sit and ‘relax’ on the sofa.  As I was still considerably in awe of him, this was difficult’.

In a gentle, but rather schoolmasterly way, Francis then announced that he was going to ‘play me some music’, and that I must listen to it very carefully.  I noticed that in his living room he had the latest, most up-to-date state-of-the-art sound system available at the time: equipment straight out of  Hi-Fi News.

Gingerly, I lay back against the velvet upholstery, and waited. The it began: the gloriously optimistic first movement of Bach’s Cantata 140 – Wachet Auf! – with its tremendously upflifting ‘Chorus’.

It was the first time in my life of twenty-five years that I had heard such music. My very first Bach cantata. I was entranced, and totally enraptured by the ‘chorale melody’.

Francis smiled wearily at me.

To him, I must’ve appeared to be a lightweight; a mere tyro.  A twentieth-century girl more used to Bob Dylan and the Beatles, although, in fact, I had been collecting recordings of  music by,   Beethoven, Dvorak , Sibelius and other compusers since I was ten years old.




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