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The Formative Years - By Jacqueline Thomas


How many ten-year-olds form a string quartet which goes on to world renown and lasts for half a century (and counting)?

In the industrial heartland of the North East, Middlesbrough is frequently dubbed the arsehole of England, the least-desirable place to live. Yet there, in the seventies, was a thriving classical music scene out of which emerged the world-famous Brodsky Quartet who, now approaching their 50th anniversary, have built a starlit reputation for their live performances and over 70 acclaimed recordings.

Jacqueline Thomas is the little girl who began this quartet and she remains its cellist to this day. Her memoir tells the story of the first ten formative years, with insight into the passion and fervour surrounding music-making on all levels, many amusing and sometimes hilarious extracts from her teen diaries, the single-minded obsession with their Art and the ambition to make it a success. With a distinct flavour of the 1970s, her teen-self also grapples with the gender inequalities endemic in the music world back then.

The quirky title, from the author’s childhood nickname, is finally explained - a bonus for fans of The Juliet Letters, the album they co-wrote with Elvis Costello.

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