A PIECE OF LUCK
Gordon Jacob 1895 - 1983
It was in 1974 that a concert was given in Hertfordshire by a clarinet choir. That was a relatively unknown combination in those days, but Gordon Jacob had written a piece Introduction and Rondo that was to receive its first performance that day. We were asked whether we could give him a lift to the venue, and I sat behind him in the car. He confided to us that he had never actually heard a clarinet choir, but he was such a master of orchestration that it was a great piece, and the players and audience loved it.
My music business (JEWM) had been running for three years, and we were beginning to publish new works for young players. The repertoire for beginners at that time was very limited, as learning wind instruments in schools was still a new venture. I was particularly annoyed that beginner brass players were usually asked to play a brass band part as their exam piece. It would be unaccompanied, and make very little sense without the rest of the band, but there was not much else suitable.
As we drove along I went into a bit of a soap-box speech about the fact that young players needed good music when they were learning, not just simple ditties written 'down to their level'. They need to be taught with well-written music of stature and quality.
Very soon after, through the post, came Four Little Pieces for trumpet or cornet and piano - from Gordon Jacob. It soon went on to the AB exam syllabus and has remained there on and off ever since. Many other pieces followed, and through that chance transport problem a long friendship was established. Isn't life wonderful?
Cover illustration by Timothy Macpherson aged 12.