An Unwanted Experience

There has been a terrible silence in our house for the last three weeks, since the amplifier broke down, and with high drama. I was listening to music that suddenly got louder – as music tends to do – and I moved quickly to turn the volume down but as I did so the sound continued to increase and then, with my ears hurting so that I thought I would never be able to hear again, deadened and stunned, the sound went off completely. The awed silence in its different way was as hard to bear as the terrifying sound had been. The whole unit had killed itself – and nearly me as well, to say nothing of people in the street.

It went back to the manufacturer through our excellent local dealer, and then I waited for the result which was the one I feared. They had no replacement for the broken equipment. Well, it was twelve years old and most electronics have limited lives these days I was told when I explained what had happened. ‘I expect it’s had a lot of use’, a friend said later when I told my sad story.

It had.

So today I bought a new amplifier. Other members of the household may be quite relieved, for it is manually controlled and I shall no longer be able to change the volume from a seated position of power. Loud music will now involve a corporate decision instead of depending on a private whim. After I had achieved the immediate challenge of installing the equipment – no simple task for me – and tested that all my speakers hadn’t blown as well (what a relief!), the next big decision was what CD should I play to break my days of silence?

It had to be a rich orchestral piece, so I chose Granville Bantock’s ‘The Witch of Atlas’, after Shelley’s poem of that name. Shelley’s witch is a very lively proposition

‘For she was beautiful: her beauty made
The Bright world dim, and everything beside
Seemed like the fleeting image of a shade…’

Delightful tuneful music from Bantock, with lots of splendid solo playing from the woodwind and strings of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley.

To my great relief, my dim world has become bright again.


(More about Granville Bantock next time)