Friday, 3 June 2016

Four Last Runs

Sometimes Fantasy Bob thinks that all the clever clogs in the world simply miss the obvious in their self serving search for metaphor and meaning.  If they all had a better grounding in cricket and cricketing matters they would find things easier.
Strauss in 1948

As a case in point, FB enjoyed this week a performance by the RSNO of Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs. Lush orchestration with a floating soprano line - Test Match Quality.  Looking at the programme note FB was told all manner of guff about how the 84 year old Strauss set these poems as a marker of his own impending death - for he died shortly after he composed them.
This has a superficial plausibility.  However it fails to take account of the fact that the songs were written in 1948.

This was of course the year of the Invincibles, the touring Australian team which swept all before them.  It was Bradman's last tour.  It included his last Test innings.  An innings in which he needed four runs to ensure that he had a Test batting average of 100.  As all children should be taught in primary school, a googly from Eric Hollies gave him a second ball duck and he finished his Test career with an average of 99.94.
Bradman in 1948

It is obvious - at least to FB, and, if to him, why not to everyone? - that Strauss, the last great Romantic composer, was greatly affected by this misfortune.  After all his earlier work had included works which dwelt on the nature of heroism - the great tone poems Ein Heldenleben and Don Quixote among them. Inspired by Bradman's heroic failure, he dashed off in his masterful way a work he carefully entitled Four Last Runs.  Sadly it got lost in translation, and one of the finest cricketing works of the concert hall has never been properly recognised as what it is.

There are no doubt those among FB's dwindling handful of readers who are thinking to themselves, 'Come on FB, there is no link between Bradman and Strauss.'

But that is where they are wrong.  The great batsman had a passion for classical music and in particular the soprano voice, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he was familiar with Four Last Runs, and appreciated its true meaning.

But even beyond that his granddaughter Greta Bradman is a soprano of growing reputation wowing audiences in the concert hall and opera house.  Her repertoire includes Strauss' Four Last Runs.

So there.
Greta Bradman