Beecham & Bagpipes
Beecham & Bagpipes
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As recently as the 1940s, while serving as the music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the world-famous British conductor and impresario Sir Thomas Beecham infamously quipped that Seattle’s arts scene amounted to an “aesthetic dustbin” – a harsh appraisal that wounded the town’s pride a bit, but surely also one likely shared by plenty of other worldly cosmopolitans.


Beecham was famous for his acerbic wit and there are many funny anecdotes to his name. One being that a woman once confided to him that her son wanted to learn an instrument, but she couldn’t bear the purgatory of him practicing in the initial stages. “What is the best instrument?” she asked. “I have no hesitation, madam”, he said, “in saying the bagpipes. They sound exactly the same when you have finished learning them as when you start learning them”. As far as Beecham was concerned bagpipes sounded out of tune whoever was playing them.


So spare a thought, then, the next time you pass popular Seattle bagpipe busker Martin Brendecke – at “Westlake, Greenlake, or any part of Seattle with a lake in the name”, as he says in his blog – who helps pay his college bills with his pipes and talent. He was born in the US, the son of a performing folk musician, and whose family have Scottish roots. He started playing the bagpipes at 8, and when he was a teenager he attended many top piping camps, and also studying at the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.


His latest venture is busking to Brazil in the summer – and his piping has to be in tune, Mr. Beecham, because he’s already financed the trip!


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