The Proms and Natural Justice: A Plan for Renewal

With a Forward by Sir Adrian Boult
Extent: 72 pages
Composition: Crown octavo; no illus or exx. vi+66 pages

In this important and provocative book Dr Robert Simpson, one of Britain’s finest composers and for nearly thirty years a BBC music producer, scrutinises the methods by which the BBC plans the annual Promenade Concerts. Currently, the Controller of the Proms has the absolute right of control over Proms programmes. Basing his argument on long experience inside the BBC, Dr Simpson argues that whoever the Controller might be, the effects of his individuality are bound to colour the programmes over time, excluding important composers and performers whom he happens to dislike. The only logical way to give the Proms the flair that a single imagination can provide – without those otherwise inevitable long-term imbalances – is to limit the tenure of the Controller to four or five years.

Dr Simpson further examines the artistic gains and financial savings to be made from more extensive use of the BBC’s own orchestra. Not only would this measure produce a saving of a staggering 62% of costs; it would also give the Controller almost total control of the repertoire. This would enable the Proms to become more adventurous than ever before: a true realisation of Sir Henry Wood’s original vision.

4 reviews for The Proms and Natural Justice: A Plan for Renewal

  1. :

    “constructive and principled criticism from one of our finest composers” —Leader, The Daily Telegraph

  2. :

    “challenging and important” —The Sunday Times

  3. :

    ‘In this important and provocative book Robert Simpson, for nearly thirty years a BBC Music Producer scrutinised the methods by which the Proms were planned. […]

    [The book] fascinating insight into the BBC politics of the time by someone, not only a fine writer, but who became one of the most distinguished symphonic composers of our time. And, like I said…I don’t think much has altered within the BBC.’

    —Reg Williamson, MusicWeb International

  4. :

    ‘Robert Simpson’s impersonal challenge is spotlessly objective, sternly factual and, at the same time, unashamedly ethical. His scrupulous analysis of the Proms’ past yields a practical proposal as well as what already seems to have proved an indisputable moral message – both substantiated by comprehensive, complex statistics, yet each glaringly simple in substance. […]

    Over a hundred million people listen to the Proms: in his incisive, crystal-clear style, Robert Simpson has raised our musical world’s profoundest administrative problem, pointing the solution, or one solution, equally convincingly.’

    —Hans Keller, London Review of Books, October 1981

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