Handwashers’ Newsletter 20th September 2020


Thank you again to those 52 members who have responded, particularly those who have explained their preferences. You will understand that we couldn’t reply individually.18 members have expressed a willingness to attend socially distanced sessions in alternate weeks and 5 would like to take part in virtual rehearsals. 34 of you would prefer to wait, albeit reluctantly, for normal rehearsals to resume.

At its October meeting the Committee will take note of your views above.


My father was an eminent organist in Glasgow throughout the 1950s and 60s. He was also music director at a public school and had long summer holidays. As a holiday job he played occasionally for weddings at the Glasgow University Chapel.

One sunny day in our home my brother and I were disturbed by a huge shriek from father. He was reading a local newspaper with one of the headings being.   ‘Local organist ruins bride’s big day.’   He hadn’t put date in his diary and just not turned up; so unlike him.

As a child I had no idea how all this turned out. Huge apologies I expect.

(I bet your father double checked every booking was in his diary after that, Pat! Ed.)

THE NEW COVID LAWS Former CCS Conductor and Honorary Life Member, John Wright suggests The Rule of Six would be a good name for a legally small group of singers, but that Close Harmony groups will need to become Distant Harmony groups.


I find it interesting that the friendship between Haydn (1732-1809) and Mozart (1756-1791) is illustrated by a lovely, simple musical theme.

In 1779 Mozart composed the Coronation Mass in which the soprano singing the Agnus Dei opens with these four bars:

Here it is sung by Emma Kirkby: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8te_9hwMgEI 

Presumably recognising that he’d hit on something special, he used the same idea in 1786 for the Marriage of Figaro to illustrate the pain felt by Countess Rosina at her husband’s infidelity. Here, with subtitles, Gloucestershire’s Dame Felicity Lott sings the famous aria Dove Sono (wait for the theme): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8hPhtzyfcQ  

In London in 1792, Haydn was deeply distressed when he heard of the death of Mozart, who he’d last seen as he left Vienna. The tearful young man had feared that they wouldn’t meet again, believing that the journey would be too arduous for his 58-year-old friend.

Haydn encounters a storm in the Channel

When he heard the tragic news, Haydn was working on Symphony 98 and the solemn Adagio was probably written as an elegy to Mozart. The opening clearly reflects Mozart’s theme and it also contains material from his Jupiter Symphony. Listen to the theme in the Adagio from Symphony 98. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUhObAB-JTY

In 1802, in failing health and strength Haydn wrote his final great work; the Harmoniemesse and, no doubt thinking of his late young friend, used the same Mozart phrase for the Agnus Dei quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC3G8teplBU

Shortly after his death in 1809 an official memorial service was held for Haydn at which, undoubtably at his own request, the Mozart Requiem was sung.

So, was this deep friendship between these very different characters simply one of mutual respect for the other’s genius? Haydn’s marriage was loveless and childless though he did enjoy the attention of women. Mozart’s father, Leopold, who died in 1787 was excessively ambitious for his son. I like to think that Haydn saw Mozart as the son he never had, and Mozart regarded Haydn as a more caring, less pushy father-figure. Was it he who coined the expression ‘Papa Haydn’?

What a pity neither of these composers scored that beautiful musical phrase for chorus so we could all sing it!!


A well-off man is arranging the funeral of his brother and asks the vicar to give the eulogy, instructing him to describe the dead man as a saint. ‘I can’t really do that’ replies the vicar. ‘I’ll pay you 500 quid to do so’ bargains the brother and the bidding goes up until £10,000 is agreed to go towards a new church roof.

At the funeral the vicar rises to give the eulogy, describing the dead man as ‘A thief, a cheat, a fraudster and a womaniser but an absolute saint compared with his brother!’

And here, just in from Chris: