The Summer of 1976

There has been much talk recently of the drought conditions prevailing in this country which have recalled the severe drought of 1976. My memory is not always very good, but I can remember much about that year. My contract in Flensburg, Germany came to an end: it had been a wonderful, but gruelling apprenticeship and I felt I could at last call myself a musician. But I had become rather more concerned with furthering my studies in composition, and travelling south from Schleswig-Holstein, my aim was to attend the summer course in Darmstadt. Beforehand, I stayed in Stuttgart for a few weeks, where I worked on a Mass for choir and orchestra (now destroyed): I remember working in the university library. It was hot in Stuttgart, but I guess that was nothing too unusual at that time of the year. At Darmstadt I was able to compare such personalities as Ligeti and Ferneyhough. I worked on 'Epitaph' in collaboration with Jukka Tiensuu and our piece was chosen for the Schlusskonzert; the musicians were fantastic and it was all rather inspirational. Ligeti recommended I study with John Lambert in London. So I returned home to find I had been awarded a post-graduate grant, went to the RCM where I got in to study with my namesake (even though it was months past the deadline for entry), and to get the grant I had also to enrol at King's College.
And yes, it was boiling: not only had it not rained for months, London had been sweltering for weeks in temperatures over 30 degrees. Finally, I remember I had made so much money in Germany (at least compared to starting incomes at home) that, before the summer was completely out, I was able to buy a little run-down cottage outside Buckingham - from whence, on a Honda 90, I commuted to Kensington.


  1. The quip is - this spring has been the wettest drought in history.


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