Frederick Lamond

Havergal Brian

Selected and annotated by Malcolm MacDonald

The ‘suggestion for a Lamond jubilee’ mentioned below was presumably in anticipation of the great Scottish pianist’s 70th birthday: in any case it gave Brian an excuse for the following tribute:

I hope the suggestion for a Lamond jubilee will find a ready response. I have a sentimental regard for the man and his fifty years of artistic activity, for in my youth I managed to hear him at the old St James’s Hall. Perhaps at that age I thought that all were giants: but none whom I have since heard have shown Lamond’s enormous power in the playing of Beethoven. The power he has is needed in the sonatas, and to them both Lamond and his master Liszt remained unswervingly loyal.

I suppose Lamond has during his long years of an artist’s life lost count of the number of times he has played the thirty two sonatas in public: only on one of the many occasions on which I have heard him did be stray from the Beethoven sonatas or concertos, and then he played Liszt’s concerto in E flat. Once at Bechstein’s I saw Lamond come in and as silently disappear: and they told me that he had gone to a private room to practise, a habit he had when in London, and that on Sunday mornings he would do the same. Some regard Lamond as best in Liszt, others in Chopin, but for me it is always Beethoven.

Lamond is to me a link between the music of Victorian days and our own: he was a pupil first of von Bülow, and then of Liszt. When Liszt was to London in 1836 — the guest of Henry Littleton at Sydenham — he set the stamp of his approval on Lamond’s playing by attending the final concert of a series given by his pupil in St James’s Hall. Liszt was then seventy five: and I am convinced that then and always he had a great heart, and at cost to himself was pleased to help others.

Since those days Lamond has lived much abroad, though, his visits to London have been frequent. We have known him as a concerto player at the concerts of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the Crystal Palace Concerts, and more recently at the Queen’s Hall Orchestra and Promenade Concerts. He has, in years gone by, essayed the tasks of conductor and composer. His Symphony in A was produced in his native Scotland in 1889 by the Glasgow Choral Union and in the year following by Manns at the Crystal Palace. The Philharmonic Society produced an Overture of his in 1893; he has also written chamber music and pieces for the piano, though of these I know nothing. It is likely he nay have written other works which await performance.

Lamond is a true Scot, carrying the love of his native land with him, not to the Colonies but to the Continent, where in general they do not express that love too ardently. As a recitalist he is well known in most European countries. His short history is that he was born at Glasgow, was first taught music by his brother David, and at the age of twelve played the organ at Laurieston Parish Church, and then in due season (1904) married Irene Triesch, an actress. Prosit! Prosit! And now his fellow countrymen, brother artists, and music lovers all seek to do him honour.

On the other hand, by La main gauche

Musical opinion, January 1936, p. 301