Actually, did he but know it, it's much older than that . . .
The 1780s. Dover Harbour. Journalists, reporters, draughtsmen, etc, are crowding round the gangway, waiting for the young Wolfgang Mozart to disembark. Finally, he appears at the top of the steps.
Press chorus: Blimey, he's only a kid] And he's wearing a wig] How can he play at speed with a wig on? Give us a quote, Wolfgang] Look this way, darling - hold it for just 15 minutes]
Enter Wolfgang's father, Leopold Mozart.
Leopold: OK, boys, stand back a bit, would you? He's just had a long sea journey and he's not feeling too good. Besides, his English is not up to the scratch like what mine is, so I'll take any questions for him. Yes, thank you?
First pressman: How do you think Wolfgang will take to the English style of playing after all these years in the Austrian front line?
Leopold: He's very young and adaptable, no problem. We've just done a season in Paris and he fitted in with the French way of doing things, I'm sure he'll settle down fine, any more?
Second pressman: Rumour has it he's a bit of an individualist. How will that suit our ensemble style of playing?
Leopold: I think when you've seen his solo runs for yourself, you won't worry any more. That is all, thank you.
The time shifts to the 1820s. Franz Schubert is sitting with his head in his hands. His personal manager is standing over him.
Manager: I don't understand you, Franz. This is a big deal the Italians are offering you. Yet you don't want to move. You going to be homesick at your age?
Schubert: It's not that. I just don't like the Italian way of playing. I wouldn't fit in. All that flashy stuff - it's not me.
Manager: Hey, come on] What about your Overture in the Italian Style? They loved that]
Schubert: That was a joke.
Manager: Well, you've got to do something to get the crowds back. They didn't like your last unfinished effort.
Schubert: Meaning what?
Manager: Your Abandoned at Half-Time Symphony. Most unprofessional. A lot of people wanted their money back.
Schubert: Look, I was sick] I was ill. It's been a hard season. I just couldn't take any more. . . .
Manager: Yeah, I know. Well, just get back on the old song cycle and get back into shape and we'll talk about Italy later.
We find ourselves, still in the 1820s, back in London in the HQ of the Philharmonic Society, where two top directors are having a slight difference of opinion.
First: He says he won't come.
Second: Oh, blimey, you haven't been writing to Beethoven again, have you?
First: If we could get Beethoven over here, he'd fill stadiums all over the country.
Second: He can't hear. He can't walk, hardly. He's well overweight. How long would it take him to get in shape? OK, he used to be good, but . . .
First: He's still a living legend.
Second: Forget it. Let's get this boy Brahms while he's still cheap.
We move on 60 years or so. Dvorak is in his office. He is listening earnestly to a promoter.
Promoter: So, what do you say? Dvorak: I say no.
Promoter: Oh, come on] A quick exhibition tour of America, and a symphony with our name on it. What could be easier? And there's piles of money in it for you.
Dvorak: I don't know. A sponsored symphony - it doesn't seem right.
Promoter: Oh, come on. All the great composers did it] Beethoven put the Rasumovsky logo on those quartets . . . Mozart's Haffner Symphony . . . the Pastoral Symphony . . .
Dvorak: What's commercial about a pastoral symphony?
Promoter: Sponsored by the Austrian Tourist Board? Then the Hungarian Rhapsody . . .
Dvorak: OK, I'll do it. But I really hate to call it the Come To America for a Great Holiday Symphony.
Promoter: What do you suggest?
Dvorak: How about From the New World?
Promoter: Dullsville. But if that's the best we can get from you . . .Reuse content