Mystery Music March

BBC Music Magazine

For the past week, I’ve been biting my finger nails down to their cuticles. I’ve been moody and nervous, ecstatic and disappointed and crucially, which is why it’s one of these posts, it’s been about music. Over the past month or so I’ve been seeing quite a lot of old cover cds from BBC Music Magazine in charity shops. I’ve been buying the magazine itself since The Proms 2007 and become something of a fan, as good a way as any to learn about classical music. The cover cds are usually wonderful, whole works by famous and infamous composers recorded by new and established talent. I’ve bought some of the older discs and I can’t imagine how I managed without the magazine before.

Deciding that I was seeing enough of these cds to start a collection, I started a collection. The magazine’s been publishing since 1992 so it’s over a decade’s worth of music to be discovered in dribs and drabs as and when. But I wanted to know exactly how many issues, how many cds and what was on them. The website for the magazine doesn’t have a list, so I asked at AskMe if anyone had seen an index anywhere. One of the answers suggested I set up a favourite search at ebay and slowly built up a catalogue myself the slow way. I duly went to ebay and searched for ‘BBC Music Magazine’.

In amongst random back issues without cds and cds without back issues was a subject line ‘BBC Music Magazine Apr 95 Mar 08 + 9 binders + CDs’ and a starting price of £20. Frankly, that was too good to be true. So I bid. It was closing in five days and so there and then I decided I was going to lose them as is the way with ebay. I kept checking my inbox for an email saying I’d been outbid and nothing. I began to get excited. Over a decade’s worth of magazines and cds for £20. Frankly, that was too good to be true. I was outbid. On Saturday. But I thought, I want them and the alternative was visiting countless charity shops, and spending far more than this on them. So I bid again. And again. £35.

Too much to spend right now. Ooh.

That’s where the disappointment came in. But after walking around a bit on Monday morning, buying a newspaper and thinking, I decided to bid another fiver. Couldn’t hurt. I knew I was falling into the auction trap and the gambling trap but again I thought, it’s still a bargain, over a decade’s worth of magazines and cds for £40, or £36 it turned out. Strangely excited through much of Monday afternoon until the bidding closed and to cut a long story short (although looking at the above few paragraphs not really) I won them.

They were in Saltney near Chester though. Um. How do I get them home?

Luckily someone gave me a lift. I met them at Runcorn station after work and we drove to somewhere it turns out is in a whole other country. Well, just slightly across the border in Wales. The view from the car on the motorway is a mess of villages, pylons and power stations, as though someone has created a gigantic landscaping machine and turned it to random. Eventually we rolled up at a house in what can only be described as a posh area, with new build houses of the kind you see on Relocation, Relocation when one of the couple is looking for somewhere to commute from whilst the other looks after the kids.

Rang the bell and a tall man, about my age who looked like he’d been successful at something despite his pyjama bottoms answered.

“Steve? I’m Stuart…” I said, “I’ve come about the …”

They were piled up in the hall. When you see a subject line like ‘BBC Music Magazine Apr 95 Mar 08 + 9 binders + CDs’ it doesn’t look like very much. Now that I could see them, it was a good job we took some bags.

“They’re not in any kind of order…” Steve said.

“It’s ok, it’ll give me something to do.”

We piled them into the back of the car, a quick shake of the hand again, and gone, back through the winds and the rain back to Liverpool.

I spent last night sorting through them. There are a hundred and fifty cds and accompanying magazines. Again in words that doesn’t seem too many, but they’re monolithically piled up on two shelves nearby and they really are. I keep running my fingers along the spines of the plastic boxes the titles, Music For Christmas, Fiesta, French Classics, Proms and at the whole works by famous and infamous composers; Liszt, Beethoven, Wiber, Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Haydn. All of that music.

It’s not complete. Even with cds I’ve already bought, there’s nothing from the first year and most of the second and third years too. Steve only took out his subscription in 1995. But still, even the magazines themselves are monumental, published when I was at university first time around but left on the shelf in favour of TV Zone when it was readable. Looking at random issues you can watch its change in editorial policy over time from something more akin to Classic FM Magazine with some bright new talent on the cover each month, slowly upmarket before stopping somewhere in a rival position to Gramophone. But always with a complete work on the cover. That makes it more authoritative somehow.

I don’t know where to begin, although the beginning seems about right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you so engrossed in these magazines that you've given up blogging ?! Sort it out, your hoards need entertainment !