Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Marion Scott, her mother and William Hurlstone - a great anecdote

Pamela Blevins, the Gurney and Scott scholar, sent me this note concerning my recent post about the Marion Scott Quartet concert at the Aeloin Hall on 10th December 1908. The story that Pam tells is excellent and I quote it verbatim with pleasure and thanks.

“This review is one that Marion did not have in its entirety in her own collection of reviews so it's a good find! Marion knew both Stanford (as his student, as a musician in the RCM Orchestra and later as a colleague) and Hurlstone. The connection with Hurlstone is interesting because it says a lot about the character of Marion's mother and sheds some light on why Marion was such an open-minded person who stepped beyond the constraints of class. First, her mother was an American and was a liberal thinker and rather bold for a woman of her day. Second, she had a great sense of justice and kindness that extended to all people. So, I'll let Marion tell the story after a little introduction from me.

Her parents had been invited to a dinner-party "of Victorian splendour" by some well-off friends who informed the Scotts that they had hired a young man to play the piano and let it be known that they were paying him a good fee. They had not thought to include him in the dinner or to feed him at all. Marion takes up the story: "When dessert ended the hostess gave the signal and the ladies withdrew to the drawing room. There, sitting awaiting them in the otherwise lonely room was a dark, shy young man. After briefly introducing him, the hostess left him in the cold by the piano while the ladies engaged in lively local chatter around the fire. She was not being consciously rude; she was merely acting in accordance with the custom of her kind. But the sight was altogether too much for my Mother. The spirit of her [American] ancestors rose up in her. She herself rose, crossed the room, sat down by William Hurlstone and drew him into such interesting talk that his shyness vanished and he and she were soon like old friends....In the future Hurlstone was often to be a guest at our house, and I think that my Mother (remembering the evening when he had been left dinnerless) took particular pleasure in providing extra dainties [for him]".
From an undated piece by Marion Scott which was later incorporated into William Hurlstone: Musican Memories and Records by his Friends edited by Katharine Hurlstone 1947

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