Gerard Hoffnung, 1925-59
Yesterday I happened to hear a few seconds of an item on BBC Radio 4’s weekly programme Pick of the Week. It featured the man you can see to the left. For those of you who don’t know of him: Hoffnung was a musician, cartoonist, wit and wonderful eccentric. He instituted a series of Hoffnung Music Festivals, which took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London. One of these featured a composition by Matthew Arnold — A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57, which was scored for several vaccuum cleaners and other domestic appliances. It was dedicated to the US President, Herbert Hoover.
One of Gerard Hoffnung’s most famous pieces has nothing to do with music, however. (But see comments). This is the thing I heard a tiny snippet of on the radio yesterday. It is called The Bricklayer’s Lament and is in the form of a letter from the bricklayer to his employer. If you have never heard this, you are in for a treat. If you have heard it, you are still in for treat. It is here
Tragically, Gerard Hoffnung died of a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 34.