John Berger's life and death are being celebrated by the BBC today. His Ways of Seeing programme joins the BBC litany of works that "changed British culture".
The BBC's apparently guileless reporting disguises that fact that from its conception it sought to change British culture. In Music Mania I show how, 1 year after it was granted a Royal Charter, the BBC squandered £2,000 of public money to perform a work by Schoenberg. English composers were aghast that a German composer should be promoted instead of native talent. The amount of money was deemed obscene but was necessary to perform a work with 8 flutes, 5 oboes, 7 clarinets, 10 horns, 5 trumpets, 7 trombones, 6 kettle-drums (and other percussion), 4 harps, full strings, 5 solo singers, 3 male choirs and an 8-part mixed choir. In spite of criticism by the public, the BBC produced another Schoenberg work in 1930, even though in the eyes of the British public his name was "mud".Read more