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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: January 25, 2007 Archive

H Is for History Boys

Posted at 1:54 PM on January 25, 2007 by Rex Levang (28 Comments)

If you saw the recent movie, "The History Boys" (or the play that it's based on), you might be interested to know about its origins, according to its author:

Listen to Nicky Hytner on "Private Passions," Michael Berkeley’s always excellent programme, a superior and more interesting Desert Island Discs without its tiresome conventions. Most of Nick’s musical choices are quite spare (or "transparent" as Nick calls them), not caring for music as a warm bath, which is generally where my musical appreciations stops. So there’s Handel, Janácek, Sondheim, Haydn and Britten and ending with a wonderfully slow and sexy rendering of "Bewitched" by Ella Fitzgerald, with the words "I'll spring to him and sing to him / And worship the trousers that cling to him."

Nick doesn’t mention the stories of singing as a boy in the choir with the Halle under Barbirolli or how he was winkled out of Jewish prayers to bolster the singing of the Christian hymns, at Manchester Grammar School. But it reminds me of the stories as Nick told them to me and how vivid and touching they were, so after the programme I make notes to see if I can turn these anecdotes into a film.

--Alan Bennett, "Untold Stories"

And so the play came to exist from listening to the radio. . . .

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