Monday, 20th (1919)

Glorious bath and swim, also change of clothes.  J. has obtained tickets for the rehearsal of the symphonies.  I have to spend the afternoon doing 9 copies of a drawing of a soldier’s bed and kit for the billets – horrible job, and the sort of thing I can’t draw a bit, but no one else would try it.

9 p.m.  The drawings were a blessing in disguise for I found that I had been released from picquet to do them.  I have experienced the greatest musical treat of my life.  The Concert Hall was a large and ornate place, quite near the Cathedral, with seating room for about 1500.  Though a rehearsal, there was very little interruption by the conductor.  His methods were more subtle and serpentine than ferocious.

The Mozart symphony was played in perfect style by what appeared to me an immense orchestra, and was, as might be expected, a graceful, fresh and charming work: but, after that the number of instrumentalists was almost doubled.

I wish I could describe my first experience of the glorious “Pastoral” symphony. An orchestra that played like one instrument in the hands of a master – music of a power of delineation and an appeal beyond everything I have ever desired.  I could not but sympathise with several Germans who left after it was over, saying “After Beethoven – nothing!”  Bravo the deaf giant!

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