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Végh, who called himself a “chauvinist European”, always emphasised the importance of the whole European tradition, and in particular the central and eastern European element — those idiomatic, earthy instincts that are present or implicit in so much of the classical canon. The neglect of that central European element in music-making was exacerbated by the partition of Europe after the Second World War, to say nothing of the loss of so many Jewish musicians from that region in the Holocaust. The ethos of the academies of America, Western Europe and Russia, he felt, lacked the naturalness inherent in making music, wrongly emphasising technique, beauty of tone for its own sake, conformism and a literal approach to the printed score, which inhibited the freer expression of imagination and emotion — the interpretation of the music behind the notes. The fact that each 16th-note in a passage of semi-quavers, say, was written identically did not mean that they must be played in an even, uniform way. Yet this interpretative freedom was not an egotistical licence to impose the player's own personality on the music, but rather a quest to liberate the soul of the work, undertaken in the spirit and traditions of the great Viennese masters.

Tunstall-Behrens’s horn-playing elder brother Michael owned the perfect site for the establishment of the International Musicians Seminar, as it was first known. (A 1979 BBC film portrait of the seminars was called An Ideal Place.) The Porth-en-Alls estate lies on a rare stretch of what remains completely undeveloped coast, just east of St Michael’s Mount. The principles of environmental conservation practised by the family (and continued by the present owner, Peter, a cellist) matched and supported the profound sense of place, of tradition and of “unspoiled nature” which Végh believed underlay healthy, breathing music-making. “The waves of the sea are symbolic of our waves of sound,” he said, urging the need for the closest attention to the ever-changing light on the sea visible from the windows of the room in which he held master classes. This mirrored the constant regard a musician must have to the myriad changes within a piece — a shift of harmony, the change of character from one phrase to the next, or even within a single note. In an era where most learning and concert-giving takes place in ferro-concrete cities, Végh recognised the importance for young musicians of a lengthy immersion in a quite different environment. From the start, the courses were to be of a full three weeks’ duration. The students were to come from all over the world; they were to be allowed to attend up to the age of 30 and must be of conservatory standard or above, so that technical competence in the most demanding repertoire should be assumed, and could therefore be ignored in lessons.

One of the coastal inlets on the estate is named after an 18th-century smuggler, John Carter, whose successes earned him the ironical nickname “the King of Prussia”. The King of Prussia’s Cove over the years became contracted to Prussia Cove, and the seminars set up by Végh became (and are still) known as IMS Prussia Cove. The estate included a massively-built house — designed by a follower of Lutyens and situated on the very edge of the sea, with the Escher-like feature that all of its three levels are on the ground floor — and numerous surrounding cottages. It was indeed the ideal accommodation for housing up to 100 people at any one time.

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