Life in Bournemouth
By Tony D'Amato
Monty and Winifred longed to be in the country. Comfortable and well-appointed as it was, the large flat they owned in St.John's Wood was still London: busy, bustling, making ordinary matters appear more urgent than they were, and full of detailed business and minutia. They wanted to be alone together in a quiet corner of England. They chose a secluded section of Greater Bournemouth, and built the house they called, "Greensleeves"- close enough to the old and gracious coastal resort city to enjoy its amenities: concerts at the Symphony Hall, walks along the coast, dinners at agreeable restaurants and, when necessary, a good road for trips back to London.
At "Greensleeves" the Mantovanis entertained family and friends, gave dinner parties (Winifred was marvelous in the kitchen; Monty was not), played bridge and planned their holiday trips, more-often-than-not to Venice, which Winifred had come to love as much as Monty. But, mainly, in the quiet of these surroundings, Mantovani was able to obtain an overview of his life and career. Here he planned his programs, his concerts and tours, his television shows and his recordings probably still his first love. He was in constant demand, and, consequently, was forced to compose and arrange less, and to select more carefully the activities that were proposed to him.
Of course, he took all this very seriously, especially as he was now most concerned about what was happening to music, particularly in the field of recordings. The public taste in music, at least perceptibly, had changed during the period mid-sixties to mid-seventies, and he saw the standards of the industry change with it. He was put under constant pressure by the record company to alter his style and update his sound in an attempt to accommodate the new rock'n roll listener. He firmly and steadfastly refused to do this, which would have been tantamount to abandoning his loyal audiences to whom he felt he owed so much. But more than this, he had lost his faith in the ability of others to handle his affairs.
He decided to edit and control, more firmly than ever, his program content, all new repertoire, his concerts and tours, and especially, his recordings. Thus, effectively, he became his own producer. Many company executives were upset, but Mantovani was determined to eliminate other people's ability to compromise his standards. He owed this much to his fans. It was an inspired decision, for in the absence of current songs and melodies of substance, Mantovani reached back for titles he had missed or hadn't had the time to arrange.
In this period, during which time he recorded in Paris, we heard some of Monty's most memorable performances, "Whispering", "Tea for Two", "Three O'Clock in the Morning", "Deep Purple", "Just the Way You Look Tonight", and "September Song". He held out and, as a result, his popularity peaked again. His concerts continued to play to capacity houses. He was satisfied to make forceful decisions in the quiet surroundings of Bournemouth.