Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Correspondence from Muscat

A despatch from H.M. Consul-General, Muscat, to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Home:

                                                                                             British Consulate-General

27 August 1960

My Lord,

I have the honour to refer to Your Lordship's despatch No.8 of July 29, in which you requested me to ascertain, on behalf of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, whether the B flat clarinet music, enclosed with your despatch, was a correct and up-to-date rendering of the National Salute to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman.

2.  I have encountered certain difficulties in fulfilling this request.  The Sultanate has not since 1937 possessed a band.  None of the Sultan's subjects, so far as I am aware, can read music, which the majority of them regards as sinful.  The Manager of the British Bank of the Middle East, who can, does not possess a clarinet.  Even if he did, the dignitary who in the absence of the Sultan is the recipient of ceremonial honours and who might be presumed to recognise the tune, is somewhat deaf.

3.  Fortunately, I have been able to obtain, and now enclose, a gramophone record which has on one side a rendering by a British military band of the "Salutation and March to His Highness the Sultan of Muscat and Oman".  The first part of this tune, which was composed by the bandmaster of a cruiser in about 1932, bears a close resemblance to a pianoforte rendering by the Bank Manager of the clarinet music enclosed with Your Lordship's despatch.  The only further testimony I can obtain of the correctness of this music is that it reminds a resident of long standing of a tune, played by the long defunct band of the now disbanded Muscat infantry, and known at the time to non-commissioned members of His Majesty's forces as (I quote the vernacular) "Gawd strike the Sultan blind".

4.  I am instructed by the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs that there are now no occasions on which the "Salutation" is officially played.  The last occasion on which it is known to have been played at all was on a gramophone at an evening reception given by the Military Secretary in honour of the Sultan, who inadvertently sat on the record afterwards and broke it.  I consider, however, that an occasion might arise when its playing might be appropriate: if, for example, the Sultan were to go aboard a cruiser which carried a band.  I am proposing to call on His Highness shortly at Salalah on his return from London, and shall make further enquiries as to his wishes in this matter.

5.  I am sending a coopy of this despatch, without enclosures, to His Excellency the Political Resident at Bahrain.

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