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Gallery of Pictures from Fifty Festivals

Tim Bullamore

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Bath Festival

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 Fifty Festivals: the history of the Bath Festival of Music and the Arts by Tim Bullamore

For more than half a century the greatest names in music, ballet and art have queued up to appear at the Bath International Music Festival. People like Yehudi Menuhin, Rudolf Nureyev, Vera Lynn and Francis Bacon have all been seen and heard in the halls, theatres and galleries of the honey-stoned Georgian city of Bath.

Sir Thomas Beecham conducting opera, Yehudi Menuhin playing solo Bach in Bath Abbey, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Sir Michael Tippett's Blues Festival, recitals by Jessye Norman and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf - the catalogue of great performances by world-class artists seems endless. And still the Bath Festival rolls on, bringing new talent and famous names to the city each year.

While the Bath Festivalís artistic reputation is world renowned, behind the scenes the true story is one of organisers struggling to make ends meet, artistic egos growing too big for a small provincial city, and, from time to time, local people objecting to their taxes being used to fund events they sometimes perceived as elitist.

The dramas, the crises and the overdrafts - all are recalled with engaging humour and frankness in Tim Bullamoreís new book.

But in spite of - or perhaps because of - its difficulties, the Bath International Festival of Music and the Arts has survived and, more recently, flourished.

As the Bath International Music Festival celebrated its fiftieth festival in 1999, Fifty Festivals looks back at the artistic triumphs as well as the financial disasters, and examines what the future holds for this world famous event.

Last updated: 27 October 1999
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