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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday July 13 2006

imageSince I became a Billion Monkey and have started taking my little pocket-sized digital camera with me whenever I go out, as a matter of routine, I see the world differently and with greater alertness.  How many times have I emerged from South Kensington tube station?  A lot of times.  How often have I noted the statue on one of the traffic islands outside that tube station, of the composer Béla Bartók?  Tonight was the first time.  I was with friends and snapped hurriedly, not lingering.  On the right is the least unsatisfactory of the snaps I took.  It misses his face, but gets his name.

So how long has this statue been there?  I don’t know.  Maybe the internet does.  Yes, of course.  Wikipedia:

A statue of Bartók by Imre Varga, was unveiled on 2nd October 2004 outside South Kensington tube station in London.

Maybe I’ve not been back to this station between then and now.

I’ve never really taken to Bartók’s music, merely to a few particular works, such as the Third Piano Concerto (I got to know this with and still love above all others the old Geza Anda/Ferenc Fricsay DGG recording), the Concerto For Orchestra, and the String Quartets, especially No. 2, but perhaps I only like the string quartets because I like the sound of almost all string quartets.

I also have a beautiful old CD of Bluebeard’s Castle, which I liked a lot when I first acquired it, and which I keep meaning to listen to again.  My CD was one of those on the cover of the BBC Music Magazine.  It was sung in English, unlike most recordings of this work.  I remember that Sally Burgess, as Bluebeard’s latest of several wives, sounded especially lovely.  She has recently recorded this work again, again in English, for Chandos, and I heard some of that when it was the CD Review CD of the week, last week I think.  But she didn’t sound as good as I remember her from that earlier CD.  That often happens with singers.  By the time they get good and famous, the voice has gone to the land of wobble.

Here is another photo of the statue that shows more of how the head looks.

There doesn’t appear to be any direct Bartók link with Kensington, or not that I have found.  He didn’t stay there for a few months or anything like that, the way the young Mozart stayed in Ebury Street, there being a statue of the young Mozart in the adjoining Orange Square.

UPDATE: James Hamilton to whom thanks emails this link, which reveals that there is a Bartók Kensington connection, and a blue circle:

. . .  In 1921, Warlock visited Bartók in Budapest and helped plan Bartók’s London début in 1922.

That’s songwriter Peter Warlock.

In March 1997, it was therefore the Peter Warlock Society, in conjunction with English Heritage, who arranged for a blue plaque for Bela Bartók in London SW7, near South Kensington station, at 7 Sydney Place, the home of Sir Duncan and Lady Wilson, who hosted all Bartók’s visits to Britain from 1922 to 1937.

You learn fast on the internet.