Rise of the composer

This may well be too much to believe, but I don’t find it so:

“[O]ne gentleman came by and he just looked at me and didn’t say anything. He walked on. And he stopped 50 meters later and turned around and came back, and said, what are you doing? The guitar? Are you a busker? I said, no, no, I’m writing a symphony. Oh, you’re a composer? I said, well, sort of. He said, well, have you got school? I said, no, I can’t write music. And he went, how are you going to write a symphony then? I said because I’ve got it on tape and I can play little bits of it. He said, where are you living?

“And I said, well, I’m living rough, actually. And I’m living in a hostel for the homeless and just bumming around, really. I’m looking for the next stage in my development of this great story. He said, I’m a jazz musician. Look, why don’t you come and stay with me for a couple of hours? I’ll take you back to my house. I’ve got a piano. Let me hear your melodies and I’ll see what I can do on the piano, see if I can extemporize it for you. So I said, well, that’s really kind of you. And he took me back to his house. His wife was absolutely furious. She said to him, are you going completely crazy? This guy could be a murderer. We’ve got a child — got a baby, and you’re bringing him — well, he was not to stay long, just for a few hours. Just kindly make him a bit of soup or something. And I stayed there for six weeks. The first night, I started playing the melody, and he started feeling it on the piano.”

That was 1982. Anthony Wade, the jazzman in question, told Stuart Sharp that yes indeed, this was a worthy work, but it would take at least a million pounds to get it recorded by, say, the London Philharmonia Orchestra. So Sharp went off to earn a million pounds:

He started off by getting a job at the homeless center. Then he got various sales jobs working exclusively on commission, something for which he showed an uncanny ability. He spent years flipping houses for the local council and then, he started doing it for himself. Many houses and 15 years later, he had saved one million pounds.

Wade, who’d evidently never expected to see Sharp again, was thunderstruck.

The entire work was recorded — by, yes, the Philharmonia — and about a third of it follows:

Says Dave Schuler:

I don’t know whether Stuart Sharp is insane or a genius or a huckster or maybe a little of all three but let’s take his story at face value. If everything happened as he said it did, his story sounds familiar. He had a genuinely transcendent experience. Like Moses, Paul of Tarsus, and Mohammed. He had the experience, it overwhelmed him, and, despite a lack of any training or professional experience, he felt compelled to put that experience into a form in which it could be shared with others.

I don’t know whether he was touched by the hand of God or not but I’m not sure we have a better way to describe it.

Asked if he’d go through this again, Sharp said: “I didn’t have any choice. You have been given a gift, go and use it. So there’s no choice for me.”

One does not, after all, argue with the hand of God.


  1. jsallison »

    1 June 2015 · 8:51 pm

    Like it.

  2. backwoods conservative »

    2 June 2015 · 9:02 am


    Mighty fine piece of music, whether the story is true or not, and I hope it is.

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