In good company with Gilbert and Sullivan | Letter

Charles Mackerras and Carlos Kleiber were fans too, writes Chris Crowcroft

Michael Simkins’ confession of his teenage addiction to WS Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan will have struck chords among many of us (Modern and major: how Gilbert and Sullivan still skewer England’s absurdities, 27 October).

Charles Mackerras, offered anything of his choice by the BBC for his last Prom, chose Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience; he was the arranger of the G&S miscellany ballet score Pineapple Poll.

Carlos Kleiber, given a similar offer by the Royal Opera House, mischievously suggested The Mikado – he got the bug at an English boarding school in Buenos Aires.

Stravinsky said he preferred the Savoy operas to Richard Strauss. Eduard Hanslick, fierce critic of Anton Bruckner, suggested that Viennese operetta had a lot to learn from the English pair.

Rather than looking down our noses at what Jonathan Miller described as “Ukip set to music”, we might reflect on the praise of the greats for a partnership that endured for 25 years and was highly formative for the musicals of Broadway, where The Pirates of Penzance made its effective debut in 1879.
Chris Crowcroft
Penrith, Cumbria

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