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Goossens= Manuscript

The scene was London's Royal Albert Hall, September 12th 1999. The occasion was
the first of BBC World Service's Millennium Concerts to be given in various
countries and continents, this first concert being jointly sponsored with the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra. Introducing both the series and its opening event,
broadcast around the world, Indian-born poet and novelist Vikram Seth declared:

"You are going to hear the first U.K. public performance of the spectacular
orchestration that was commissioned from Sir Eugène Goossens by Sir Thomas
Beecham in 1959".

Sir Richard Hickox admirably conducted the assembled London Philharmonic Choir,
Philharmonia Chorus. soloists Janet Watson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Anthony Rolfe
Johnson and Matthew Best, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra brilliantly
displayed in Goossens' "spectacular orchestration".

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When Graham Whettam had called at Goossens' Hamilton Terrace home in the
spring of 1959 he found Eugène, with his companion and assistant Pamela Main,
hard at work on the "Messiah" orchestration, there being all too little time before
Beecham was to record it. Goossens was writing on very large score-paper, Pam
copying in duplicate lines whilst Eugène got on with something further.

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Somebody called every day from the R.P.O. office to collect finished pages for the
copying of orchestral parts. The original manuscript, presently in the Library of
Sheffield University, abounds with initialled messages in Goossens' handwriting. In
the margin of page 360 is the last of these: "final two sheets tomorrow Tuesday 2 nd
E.G." Those final four pages (two double-sided sheets) were completed as promised,
being dated and signed with Goossens' monogram four days before recording began.
R.P.O. secretary Shirley Hudson personally collected these pages from Hamilton
Terrace. The score for which Beecham had paid ,1.000 (a useful sum in 1959) was at
last complete.

When the completed recording was eventually launched, Beecham announced - in


his best bravura manner - that whilst the idea for re-orchestrating "Messiah" had
been his own, Goossens had actually written it. Goossens had certainly done so: it
was his own original work! But the idea for a re-orchestration was hardly new,
Mozart and various others having re-orchestrated Handel's "Messiah" for their own
times, and Handel himself had performed it using an enlarged orchestra.

The Handel/Goossens "Messiah" recording being completed, the thirty-something


R.P.O. secretary Shirley Hudson quietly married the octogenarian Thomas in
Switzerland, thereby becoming Shirley, Lady Beecham. Sir Thomas lived for another
eighteen months or so, and Goossens continued working until illness and death
struck him down in June 1962. But the recording had a life of its own,

Sadly it must be said that some fifteen years or so after Goossen's death rumours
began to circulate that Goossens' orchestration had been made, at least partly, by
none other than Sir Thomas himself, well-known for engaging musicians like Eric
Fenby to make musical arrangements which later emerged as Beecham's own.

Presenters of BBC broadcasts from the Handel/Goossens recording, received calls


from Shirley Beecham to the effect that the work should be credited to her late
husband. A clear instance occurred on St. Valentine's day 1999 in BBC Radio 3's
Building a Library, and became the subject of correspondence in the magazine
Gramophone and a feature article in The Sunday Telegraph. Beecham's widow
even claimed that he had had Goossens' score re-orchestrated!! Interestingly
Meriden Music's photocopy of the original manuscript score actually used for
Beecham's recording contains not one note in a foreign hand.

The London première and broadcasts of September 1999 obliged the BBC to
investigate the matter, resulting in a letter dated 27 th August from Stephen Hanlon,
the Corporation's Head of Legal Affairs, which began:

"The work which will be performed at the concert on September 12 th is, in our view,
Sir Eugene Goossens' orchestration of Handel's "Messiah".

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It is not an adaptation of Sir Eugene's work by a third party."