Wigmore Hall Visit – remembering Joe and Jean’s first date

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a lunch-time concert at London’s Wigmore Hall, a most intimate and beautiful concert venue.  I was with my friend writer Deborah Jay and we enjoyed one hour of exquisite piano music performed by American Nicholas Angelich.  It was my first visit to this prestigious venue and I was especially excited to be there because of its connection with Joe’s life.

During WW2, whilst they were both serving in the British Army Ordnance Corps in Basingstoke, Joe took his sweetheart Jean Skitmore of Attleborough, to Wigmore Hall along with a party of other soldiers.  To sit there on Monday, imagining the young couple enjoying the music was a real delight.  I reproduce below the short section from Escaping Hitler that tells of this special day that was to lead to much more in the years to come……

“A devotee of classical music, Joe organised a visit to London for his students. Train tickets for uniformed personnel were subsidised by the Ministry of Defence, costing just one shilling each way. Discounted tickets for the concert at the Wigmore Hall were priced the same as the train. Despite the total representing a whole day’s pay, twenty-two people signed up. Jean, although knowing little about chamber music, was keen to be there, her first trip away with her new special friend. The programme was Die Winterreise, a song cycle by Franz Schubert from 1828. The twenty songs, performed in poetic German, tell the tragic story of a solitary traveller during a bleak savage winter, whose heart is frozen with grief. Joe and Jean sat close together.”

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