johnminnion.com

Music caricatures

Most of my music caricatures can be seen on the Bridgeman website. That’s where you should go if you want to reuse them, or even just browse. But here’s an arbitary handful…

Eric Clapton and Cole Porter – rarely seen together – drawn as a wedding present for my brother Nick and his wife Carol
Jamming with Bach. The first version of this was commissioned by John O’Neill for his series of Jazz technique books (Schott)
Barbara Strozzi. Disconcertingly, all available reference images of this 17th-century composer had one of her breasts exposed. Since I couldn’t find a convincing explanation for this, I ignored it for my own drawing.
Michael Tippett. Nick Kenyon bought the original. I drew it from black and white references photos; then I saw him interviewed on telly and realised his eyes were strikingly blue when I had imagined them to be brown. I had to borrow the picture back and change it.
My dad was so proud of me doing this commission (1983): he thought I’d arrived at last. Billy Cotton’s raucus cry ‘Wakey wakey!’ was a familiar radio sound of my childhood.
Fritz Spiegl. I used to enjoy his Listener column and we tried to do a book on composers together. In my London-centred ignorance I used to feel a bit sorry for him knowing he was stuck in Liverpool. When I moved to Liverpool myself and called to see him I was overwhelmed by his palatial dwelling on the edge of Princes Park. Sadly he died not long after I met him. But he left the world this Loophonium, permanently on display in Liverpool’s Walker Gallery.
One of my calendar covers. The drawing originally illustrated Richard Morrison’s article in The Times about the ballooning fees of star classical performers like the Three Tenors (shown here with Jessye Norman and Kiri te Kanawa. Since CD sales were predicated on hugely promoting these stars, the article argued, there was little cash around for more adventurous projects.
One recording company that broke this stranglehold was Naxos, who took advantage of newly available Eastern European performers who, though high quality, did not expect astronomical fees. You might say the success of Naxos then led to a (very modest) gravy train for me…
Ralph Vaughan Williams. For many years a favourite composer of mine. The contemplative aspect of his music felt familiar from first hearing. It would be easy to put that down to a shared background of Surrey countryside upbringing, but that seems a bit trite. I honestly don’t know why I respond so readily, now just as much as ever, to ‘Englishness’ in classical music. I could assert that the serenity in parts of the Fifth Symphony is unmatched anywhere in classical music …but perhaps it’s just that I first heard it at an impressionable age and was rather in need of serenity at the time.
Another favourite composer. I offered the image to the Sibelius Society as a postcard design. In politely declining, their president replied ‘I am afraid Sibelius and drink are a combination that ruffles feathers to this day, particularly in Finland.’
Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some people are such fun to draw…
Leos Janacek. I seem to remember the background details came from a postcard of his home, now a museum. Anyway, those black picture frames were useful in defining his white hair.