Hoffnung Music Festival
The Hoffnung Music Festivals were a series of three humorous classical music festivals held in Royal Festival Hall, London in 1956, 1958 and 1961. They were created by cartoonist and amateur tuba player Gerard Hoffnung.
They included works such as Haydn's Surprise Symphony 'with extra surprises' added by Donald Swann, an 'excerpt from Belshazzar's Feast', with full orchestra and chorus conducted by William Walton himself (The vinyl record sleeve volunteered the information that he employed a fly swat for conducting this excerpt), which turned out to consist of just a single chord with the word "Slain!", and humorous works specially commissioned from well-known composers of the day.
The 1956 concert was recorded, and is available in the American market on Angel Records 35500. Music from The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert, Royal Festival Hall, London. An Extravagant Evening of Symphonic Caricature devised by Gerald Hoffnung, Producer: Sam Wanamaker, Organizer: John Amis. It was recorded at the concert, 13 November 1956, by EMI and released in the U.S. by Angel Records. The liner notes list the programme:
- Introduction by T. E. Bean, General Manager of the Royal Festival Hall
- Fanfare by Francis Baines
- A Grand Grand Overture by Malcolm Arnold
- Concerto for Hosepipe and Strings (3rd Movement only) by Leopold Mozart
- Concerto Popolare (a Piano Concerto to end all Piano Concertos) by Franz Reizenstein
- Andante from 'Surprise' Symphony in G major ( B. & H. 94) by Haydn (arr. Donald Leonard Swann)
- Gerard Hoffnung now introduces Mazurka No. 49 in A minor, Op. 58, No. 2 by Chopin (arr. Daniel Abrams)
- Lochinvar by Humphrey Searle for Speakers and Percussion (words by Sir Walter Scott)
- Variations on 'Annie Laurie' by Gordon Jacob: Tema: Alerto, ma non troppo. Variations: Poco Inglesemente; Monto Zingaresemente; Alla Gigolo; Finale; Assai.
The liner notes were written by John Amis, one of the organizers of the event. He wrote that it was called the Crazy Concert by the London newspapers, and that all 3000-odd seats were sold within two hours of the opening of the box office, breaking all records for Royal Festival Hall at that time.
The 1958 production was the Hoffnung Interplanetary Music Festival, Royal Festival Hall, 21 & 22 November. The EMI recording for the American market was Angel 35800, released in both mono and stereo. The liner notes list the programme: Introductory Music played in the Foyer (Francis Chagrin); Hoffnung Festival Overture (Francis Baines); Metamorphosis on a Bed-time Theme (Allegro commerciale in Modo Televisione) (libretto by Alistair Sampson. Music by Joseph Horovitz); Sugar Plums (realized by Elizabeth Poston) (Dolmetsch Ensemble); The Famous Tay Whale (a dramatic poem by William McGonagall, music by Matyas Seiber, declaimed by Edith Evans); A movement from Concerto for Conductor and Orchestra; Punkt Contrapunkt; Excerpts from The United Nations (Malcolm Arnold); Waltz for Restricted Orchestra (P. Racine Fricker); and Let's Fake an Opera or The Tales of Hoffnung (William Mann and Franz Reizenstein).
The 1961 production was the Hoffnung Astronautical Music Festival and was a memorial tribute to Gerard Hoffnung, who had died two years earlier, and was again held in the Royal Festival Hall, 28 November. It was also recorded by EMI in mono and stereo and released in the U.S. on Angel Records 35828. The recording was reissued on CD by Hallmark on 20 February 2012. The selections included "Rigmarole" - Introductory Music Played in the Foyer (Francis Baines); Festival Anthem (Francis Baines); Overture, Leonore No. 4 by Beethoven (at least according to the programme! in the performance the off-stage trumpet soloist failed to come in the first time, and on the second attempt several trumpets soloists played the fanfare a beat or two apart. The actual composer was not named, but the work of Malcolm Arnold was unmistakable); Duet from the Comic Opera "The Barber of Darmstadt" (music supposedly by "Bruno Heinz Jaja", but actually by Humphrey Searle; words by John Amis); Ballad of County Down, Mostly in D Major (Francis Chagrin); Excerpt from "Belshazzar's Feast" (conducted by the composer, Sir William Walton); Horrortorio (music by Joseph Horowitz and words by Alistair Sampson); and Mobile for Seven Orchestras (Lawrence Leonard).
- John o'London's Volume 3 (1960)
- Hoffnung, Gerard. The Hoffnung music festival. Publisher: Hoffnung Partnership, 2000, ISBN 1-903643-02-3
- The Hoffnung Music Festival Concert Recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London. Angel Records 35500, LP, 1956
- The Hoffnung Interplanetary Music Festival, Royal Festival Hall, 21 & 22 November 1958, Angel Records 35800, LP, 1958