ijournaler (ijournaler) wrote in lj_uk,
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ijournaler
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Another Great English Composer


Elgar and Vaughan Williams are seen as great English composers: I'd like to add Mike Oldfield to the list. Tubular Bells is a wonderful piece and uplifting in the same way as Pomp & Circumstance No.1 (aka Land of Hope & Glory).

I've just finished Changeling, Mike Oldfield's autobiography. It's the sort of book that makes you want to review your own life - perhaps even write about it. He had a difficult childhood, hated school but loved music and had a residency at Reading Folk Club when he was only twelve (but looked older). Soon afterwards he heard his sister playing Beethoven's Fifth on her record player. He saw music, 'deeply, with crystal clarity. When I listened to a piece of classical music I could see all its components, its parts, and how they fitted together'.

He moved to Pimlico when he was sixteen and joined Kevin Ayer's band, recording at Abbey Road Studios. This was in 1970 and one evening he took LSD which had a profound effect on him. He felt a veil was lifted off and everybody was stripped of everything he'd ever learned about them. This was not a good trip but the beginning of the horrors which pursued him for many years. Over the next few years anesthetizing himself with alcohol or making music were the only things that got him through. He started on Tubular Bells. He'd been given a tape recorder by Kevin and had the use of a Farfisa Organ. One evening he fiddled around on the Farfisa and came up with a repetitive riff that was to be the introduction riff and later became the Exorcist theme.

In his autobiography he writes that,"Tubular Bells gave me a way out. I was so completely into it, the music became the sole, solid purpose of existence, the focus for my entire life." It's hard to believe he was just nineteen when it catapulted him into fame.
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