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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 April 2021

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Summary

I STARTED WRITING these memoirs when I was in my sixties and I suppose in search of a role. I had recently said goodbye to Leonard Bernstein, who had died in New York the previous year after a long illness. With his departure my occupation was gone; I had thought of myself as a Boswell to his Dr Johnson, filming his concerts and taping his memories, such as his conducting studenthood under Serge Koussevitzky and Dimitri Mitropoulos. My biography of Bernstein, written in the 1990s, is also part autobiography, since the footnotes abound with succinct asides such as ‘the author was present on this occasion’. But what prompted me, while holidaying in Goa, to start again, this time on a narrative of my own memoirs? It was, I suppose, the challenge after I had finally taught myself to type! I had always smiled indulgently at my friend and successor Richard Somerset-Ward, who did most of his office administration by typing memoranda at his own typewriter. Now I was similarly liberated. But to do what? Off and on, I had been a programme maker at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and ITV (launched in 1955 as Independent Television) for almost fifty years, and I had grown depressed by the absence of giants, or at the least the absence of substantial presences on my professional landscape. Might it be useful to explore what I had personally done since I joined the Corporation in 1955, notably in the field of music, and en route do a little giant-spotting?

It seemed to me that my educational background – four years at a progressive co-ed school community, mixed with two spells at boys’ grammar schools, plus an unusual blend of European and English influences on the classical music side – all helped to give me a positive and inquisitive attitude towards the arts. They were what made me – so it seems to me – a plausible candidate to lead the BBC department devoted to the arts; the Corporation had on its books at that time the most talented and probably the largest programme-making team that ever existed in the media world.

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Humphrey Burton In My Own Time
An Autobiography
, pp. vii - x
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Preface
  • Humphrey Burton
  • Book: Humphrey Burton In My <i>Own Time</i>
  • Online publication: 09 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787448001.001
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Preface
  • Humphrey Burton
  • Book: Humphrey Burton In My <i>Own Time</i>
  • Online publication: 09 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787448001.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Humphrey Burton
  • Book: Humphrey Burton In My <i>Own Time</i>
  • Online publication: 09 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787448001.001
Available formats
×