During my life of listening to music by mechanical means I have experienced the full range of technology of the last 70 years. The first machine we had at home was a wind up turntable with a heavy arm into which one inserted a needle to track the 10 or 12 inch diameter 78 rpm shellac records which gave three to five minutes music on each side. It looked something like the device you see here - left.
We then graduated to electrically driven turntables with a primitive stacking mechanism that allowed the records to change automatically. A Beethoven symphony might take five double sided 78 rpm records organised to be used on an autochanger.
By 1950 the 10" Medium Play and the 12" long play vinyl records came on the market running at 33rpm, , together with 7" singles at 45 rpm and some so called extended play 7 inchers with four items on them. And we had needles with sapphire or diamond points on them which lasted apparently indefinitely instead of the old steel ones we had to keep changing.
And that was how I learnt the repertoire - an HMV 12" Red label 78 would set me back 7 shillings, and a premium LP 41 shillings and sixpence - that is about 2 pounds and 7 pence. In purchasing power in the 1950s that is I guess around 20 pounds today. So I did not have many of these things except at birthdays and Christmas. But how we loved them and played them over and over and over........
Vinyl continued as the medium of choice for the next 30 years, with stereo sound being introduced around 1959, until the CD arrived around 1980. And now another 30 years later - well the CD is in rapid decline. Tower records has come and gone, Virgin megastores likewise, and HMV went bust since Christmas.
But we can listen to music more and more, a huge range instantly available at negligible cost. I am sitting here listening to Anne-Sophie Mutter playing a Brahms sonata. It comes courtesy of Spotify to whom I pay a subscription of 30 cents a day for as much music as I want. I can find anything within seconds and play it on my Sonos system throughout my apartment or in any single room I choose. Meanwhile my CDs, of which I have many hundreds of course, remain packed in boxes after their journey from Chicago last August.
But there is nothing to beat live music making. So the money I might otherwise have spent on CDs is spent on concert and opera tickets. That will not change. London remains a remarkable place for concerts and recitals of every kind to suit all musical tastes.
But this weekend is a family weekend - with the odd Brahms violin sonata thrown in for good measure!