Emergency wire from resident writer STOP Trapped in 1920s STOP Quarter through book STOP Only another 93 years to go STOP.

This is the trouble with blithely setting off down the back of the wardrobe into the land of the distant past. You find stuff. And then you find more stuff. And the more you find, the more fascinating it becomes and the more you have to look into how it got there and what the long-term effects were.

Then before you know what’s happened you’ve written a quarter of your total word-limit for the new book on the London Chamber Orchestra history and covered all of seven years out of 100.

Army of Generals

The 1920s were, of course, the LCO’s first decade: a time that saw a veritable ‘army of generals’ assembling in its musical ranks, a cavalcade of extraordinary composers from Manuel de Falla to Igor Stravinsky to Peter Warlock, and fairy-tale events like playing to the King of Spain in Madrid and getting Anna Pavlova to prise the still-copyrighted score of Swan Lake out of the Bolshoi so that it could be both played and danced afloat on a raft on an actual lake at Sunninghill Park.

There were the first broadcasts for the BBC, the making of gramophone records, the use of historic venues that have since been destroyed or taken over.

Time of their lives

Nip onto Youtube and you can see film of how live music was broadcast from the BBC at this time – huge rollers, roomfuls of outsized equipment clacking and spinning and whirring, and clustered around a piano, a group of musicians in full evening dress, playing like veritable angels… And it is all much too wonderful to be left out.

Some other decades in the London Chamber Orchestra history were arguably less eventful, perhaps, I muse. Perhaps I can get away with it…