Creativity and Fun with Substance

Dudley Moore parodying Beethoven piano sonato and Schuber lieder (‘Die Flabberghast’) I saw the first video below on Damien Thompson’s blog on The Daily Telegraph website. It is Dudley Moore playing his own composition, a parody of a Beethoven piano sonato based on the melody of Colonel Bogey (or if you prefer the tune from the Bridge Over the River Kwai). It is recorded in the Sixties.

I have spoken about how important creativity within a tradition is for keeping it alive and opening the door that leads to the timeless principles that are at its core for modern audiences. In the context of sacred music, I described this a need for composers whose work has the quality of noble accessibility, see here.

This is not sacred music, but it is just the sort of creativity that will open the door to the real thing, drawing people in through more than just he music. I find it brilliantly funny.

Moore was organ scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford. After university he achieved national prominence as  jazz pianist and then as part of the Beyond the Fringe comedy quartet with Alan Bennet, Jonathan Miller and Peter Cook. Jonathan Miller, who went on to become a famous opera director (among other things) is the figure opening the piano lid for him before he performs. Alan Bennet and Peter Cook especially also became household names in Britain. Bennet is a playwright and Cook a comedian with whom Moore eventually formed a famous duo.

All were at Oxford University. This creativity is encouraged by the form of education that exists at Oxford and in form (if not so much in substance any more) is based upon the medieval university. I am always amazed that more educational institutions do not copy this given the success of the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, that bear the mark of the medieval university today. All those in continental Europe were destroyed by Napoleon and re founded on a different organisational model. American universities and colleges, even the Catholic ones, are almost all based upon this later, German model. I have written about this here.

David Clayton

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David is an Englishman living in New Hampshire, USA. He is an artist, teacher, published writer and broadcaster who holds a permanent post as Artist-in-Residence and Lecturer in Liberal Arts at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. The Way of Beauty program, which is offered at TMC, focuses on the link between Catholic culture, with a special emphasis on art, and the liturgy. David was received into the Church in London in 1993. Visit the Way of Beauty blog at thewayofbeauty.org.

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