Sunday 16 October 2011

How very civilised

This afternoon, Paul, Hils, History Boy and I went to a most civilised event - a piano recital at the rather lovely Royal Over Seas League headquarters in St James' (near Green Park).

Their building, formerly known as Rutland House, was bought by the League in 1934 from the estate of the Dukes of Rutland, and was immediately extended and kitted out in the Art Deco style with sumptuous wall lights, mirrors, wood veneer cocktail bars and other contemporary details. Much of the detail of the old house is also still intact, including the campest thing - a staircase with especially designed bowed bannister rails to accommodate ladies wearing crinolines so they did not crease on their descent!

The League itself is a members' club that supports educational, welfare and artistic projects across the Commonwealth and beyond, not least an annual music prize competition for young people.

Polish pianist Mateusz Borowiak won this very prize in 2006, when he was just 17. Today was the first time he had returned to the venue, and what a triumphal return it was! Without the aid of any sheet music, Mr Borowiak mastered the complexities of Mozart Piano Sonata no 9, Schubert Impromptu Op. 142 no 3, Chopin Mazurkas and a most elaborate (and difficult) modern piece by Polish composer Bacewicz. We were enraptured, and the audience gave the young maestro such resounding applause that he came back for a finale, a beautiful piece by Catalan composer Albeniz:

Followed by complimentary tea and scones, this was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon - one of which the Dowager Countess of Grantham would no doubt approve!

Royal Over Seas League


  1. I'd approve too - that staircase looks fantastic and no need to worry about creasing my crinoline :)


  2. And the ceilings are high so your bonnet would remain intact too! Jx


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