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Revisiting the past thumb

Revisiting the past

This month heralds the issue of a CD of my music through the generosity of the British Music Society, a now highly distinguished organization founded over 30 years ago specifically to promote interest in British music, and particularly that which is not heard as often as Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Delius and Britten.  The BMSrecording catalogue […]

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Unmusical history thumb

Unmusical history

The musical world is inclined to venerate Mozart rather too much, I would suggest.  It was not until he was 18 that he wrote the first of the very few accomplished symphonies of his lifetime (No 29, K201 in A)  and that was his 39th piece in that form – ten are unnumbered.   Throughout […]

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The True Subtlety of Music thumb

The True Subtlety of Music

If, as many history text books direct us to, we believe that tonality lay down and died between the great 20th century wars, then we have to resign ourselves to having lost not only a vital organ in the apparatus of the musical body without which longer term survival is unlikely, but we are also […]

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Music to look at thumb

Music to look at

We seem to have invented for ourselves a new dilemma.   The demand for old music in our concert halls continues undiminished in strength, though the listeners grow older, more tired and, most likely, less perceptive – for how far away can we be from the conception of a Beethoven symphony and still participate in the […]

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So what do the listeners make of it? thumb

So what do the listeners make of it?

A concert audience is a rather different creature now compared with what it once was, although it can give performers just as hard a time as reputedly in the 18th century.   It is not unusual for a singer in an Italian opera house to receive applause and shouts of ‘encore’ which, far from being flattering, […]

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What's in a name …? thumb

What's in a name …?

Looking up from the programme, a puzzled expression crossed the child’s face as he asked: ‘What’s a lieder recital?’  ‘A song recital’.  ‘So what’s lieder?’  ‘German for songs’.  ‘So why . . . .?’.   And well might the apparently naïve question be asked of a recital of chansons too. Is it not yet another curiosity […]

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‘As long as we live, there is never enough singing …’ thumb

‘As long as we live, there is never enough singing …’

Aristotle, in praise of singing and quoting the bard Musaeus (whom Greek legend claimed to be the son of Orpheus) said: ‘song is man’s sweetest joy‘, and added his own warning against using musical instruments which would severely interfere with – and even inhibit – the act of singing. In a curious 2nd century compendium […]

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So what’s wrong with 100 kazoos, then? thumb

So what’s wrong with 100 kazoos, then?

A notable characteristic of the composer David Bedford, who died on 1st October aged 74, was that he had a great sense of humour. This was particularly irritating to the super-serious self-conscious arty masses, especially at the height of that syndrome in the mid-1960s when music had to be painfully severe to demonstrate the intense […]

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Firm foundations thumb

Firm foundations

In a series of meetings with Goethe, the great poet and dramatist in the 1820s, the young Mendelssohn engaged the aging poet, then in his seventies, in discussions of great depth regarding the importance of hearing and creating music as the continuation of tradition.   Goethe was having a difficult time understanding new music; he was […]

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