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Music

"Andrew Mueller hates The Doors more than any band in the world" Photo: Getty

Why we love hating the music we hate as much as we love loving the music we love

Music

With seconds to spare, I think I have chanced upon my music book of the year. Such choices are always frighteningly subjective, relying as they do on the narrow musical tastes of the chooser, his or her sex, age, education… Read more

Composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle Photo: Redferns/Getty

Why Church music is back in vogue - and squeaky-gate music has had its day

Music

One of the growth areas of contemporary music is in setting sacred texts. It might be thought that I had a special interest in claiming this, but in fact what I am about to describe represents a sea change in… Read more

Christian Blackshaw Photo: Herbie Knott

Is this 65-year-old British pianist the next big thing in classical music?

Music

Earlier this month the Wigmore Hall was sold out for a Schubert recital by a concert pianist whose only solo recordings consist of two volumes of the Mozart piano sonatas. That would be understandable if he were 23 years old… Read more

Tim Burgess of the Charlatans Photo: Getty

Is there anything a gospel choir can't cheer up?

Music

‘I’m starting to think that all of the world’s major problems can be solved with either oyster sauce or backing vocals.’ That was Brian Eno writing in his diary one evening, after a long day’s thinking and maybe a glass… Read more

The Shanghai Jiao Tong University Student Choir: one of several choirs springing up in China dedicated to the Western classical tradition

Peter Phillips is mugged by a gang of Praetorius-loving six-year-old girls in China

Music

We have read about the remarkable opening up of China in recent years: how many people live there and how good they are at business, perhaps finding the prospect of them rushing into our world rather daunting. However, a part… Read more

Composer Alexander Glazunov Photo: Getty

The drunk conductor who ruined Rachmaninov’s career

Music

Would musical history have turned out differently if Alexander Glazunov hadn’t been smashed out of his wits when he conducted the first performance of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 1 in D minor? The best of Glazunov’s own neatly carpentered symphonies hover… Read more

Steve Howe of Yes Photo: Redferns via Getty

Why Yes are still the funniest rock band in the world (although Radiohead are catching up)

Music

My favourite comment about the Scottish referendum came from the eminent comedian and novelist David Baddiel. ‘What if Yes wins, but due to a typographical error, the prog-rock band gets in and Jon Anderson becomes First Minister?’ You probably had… Read more

Consummately psychotic: Mark E. Smith of The Fall

If the idea of disturbing kraut-punk sung by a troll appeals, you'll love The Fall

Music

I had a fair idea of what I was in for when I went to see The Fall at Brixton’s Electric last Friday. They’re a middle-aged band from Manchester, just like the Stone Roses, or the various incarnations of New… Read more

Christopher Hogwood Photo: DPA/PA Images

Christopher Hogwood: the absolutist of early music

Music

The death of Christopher Hogwood has deprived the world of the most successful exponent of early music there has ever been, or is ever likely to be. It has also reduced by one the quartet of conductors who have been… Read more

church-organist-playing-up-a-storm

Wedding music lives or dies at the hands of the organist

Music

A few weeks ago I was at the perfect wedding. My young friend Will Heaven, a comment editor at the Telegraph, married the beautiful Lida Mirzaii, his girlfriend since university. The service was in Wardour Chapel in Wiltshire, a neoclassical… Read more

Kate Bush at her family home, 1978 Photo: Getty

The secret to a long and happy pop career? Don’t die

Music

As everybody in the world except me seems to have seen Kate Bush’s live shows — against all apparent arithmetical sense — these have been gloomy weeks in the primary Berkmann residence. Even the mother of my children managed to… Read more

Jonathan Mills gives way next year for Fergus Linehan Photo: Getty

Enough ‘themes’ at festivals

Music

One might have expected the streets of Edinburgh, especially at festival time, to bear some evidence of the political struggle currently engulfing our nation, but in fact there was none at all. Apparently, the arguments for and against independence have… Read more

Second coming: Kate Bush is now regarded with almost universal awe

Kate Bush Hammersmith Apollo review: Still crazy after all these years

Music

It says something about Kate Bush’s standing in the music world that, perhaps uniquely in the history of long-awaited live comebacks, nobody has suggested — or possibly even thought — that her motives might be financial. After all, this is… Read more

'Ashtray' Annie, 1956 Photo: Getty

‘Ashtray’ Annie Fischer was a piano giant. Why didn’t more people realise this?

Music

This year marks the centenary of a pianist whom London orchestral players nicknamed ‘Ashtray Annie’. Only at the keyboard did she have a cigarette out of her mouth. Annie Fischer (1914–1995) was one of those female pianists who, despite their… Read more

Latitude Festival 2010: Day 1

My daughter wants to know why you haven't heard of the Jayhawks

Music

One of the many delightful aspects of having children is that you can get them to do things you are too old, lazy or important to do yourself. My disinclination to attend any sort of music festival, owing to a… Read more

First night of The Proms, Royal Albert Hall Photo: Redferns/Getty

Was Elgar’s The Kingdom an attempt to write a religious Ring Cycle?

Music

To go from the second day of the England v. India Test match at Lord’s to the Albert Hall for the opening night of the Proms was to make a journey that a chosen few might find enviable. Nonetheless, different… Read more

Handel's statue in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner. Photo: Getty

Is Handel’s Messiah anti-Semitic?

Music

The Hallelujah Chorus crops up in the most unexpected places, says Michael Marissen in his new book about Handel’s Messiah. For example, it’s used in a TV ad ‘depicting frantic bears’ ecstatic relief in chancing upon Charmin toilet paper in… Read more

Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of US metal band Metallica perform at Glastonbury Photo: Getty

How do you like your pop: clean, dirty or downright soap-shy?

Music

I am still listening to the new Coldplay album, and liking it more and more, and not just because everyone keeps telling me how terrible it is. There is perversity in all enthusiasm, for sure, but the unanimity of critical… Read more

Roger Wright

Roger Wright's legacy at Radio Three – and his one big mistake

Music

Roger Wright’s precipitate departure from both Radio Three and the Proms came as a surprise. At first the news was that he would go at the end of the season, but then it became apparent he was leaving at the… Read more

Atmosphere - Glastonbury Festival

A Glastonbury adventure with Led Zeppelin, Lana del Rey, drug dealers – and my son

Music

‘Charlie. E. Powder,’ said the friendly, helpful man working his way through the crowd during the mindblowing Friday-night headline set by the American dubstep DJ Skrillex. I looked wistfully at his man-bag of chemical  enhancers. Skrillex was good. Maybe the… Read more

Francesco Piemontesi Photo: Felix Broede

I think I've found the new Alfred Brendel

Music

Can you tell how intelligent a musician is by listening to him play? Last year I discovered a recording of Schumann’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, a sprawling and spidery work that can fall apart even under the… Read more

Coldplay's Chris Martin Photo: Getty

Has any band of the past 20 years been as consistently irritating as Coldplay?

Music

It’s a long time, a very, very long time, since I bought a Coldplay album. Has any band of the past 20 years been so consistently irritating? Oasis were aggressively annoying, which isn’t the same thing. I quite liked the… Read more

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Why it's good to remember that Bach could be a tedious old windbag

Music

When I was first learning about classical music, 50 years ago, the scene was more streamlined than it is now. Beethoven was king, with Brahms and Mozart next in line, and Haydn slowly establishing himself. Mahler was the new kid… Read more

British pianist Clifford Curzon Photo: Getty

I could be dead soon. What should I listen to?

Music

If I live as long as my father, I’ll be checking out on 9 December 2017. Since every man in my family drops dead of a heart attack at a ridiculously young age, it’s not inconceivable. I mean, obviously the… Read more

What's your guilty pleasure? Photo: Getty

One man’s guilty pleasure is another’s palpable greatness

Music

The film critic Anne Billson wrote a typically pugnacious piece recently about the phrase ‘guilty pleasures’, which has spread like Japanese knotweed beyond its origins in pop music and taken root throughout popular culture. In film a guilty pleasure would… Read more

London International A Cappella Choral Competition, held at St John’s Smith Square Photo: Matthew Andrews

British choirs can’t match up to those from abroad

Music

To curate a festival these days is to put oneself in the firing line. There is every chance that all one will earn is the charge of stirring up apathy. It is a risk; and there will be no knowing… Read more

A scene painting from Parsifal by Paul Joukovski - 1882 (Photo: Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth/ Dagli Orti)

In the mood for Parsifal, my Passiontide fare

Music

This week, I have been mostly listening to Parsifal. Not the St Matthew Passion, which is my usual Passiontide fare. And, boy, it’s been quite an experience. You have to be in the mood for the Bach, but for the… Read more

DJ Frankie Knuckles (Photo: Claire Greenway/Getty)

Pop has become a conservative art form and an old man’s game

Music

It is coming to something when relatively young pop stars die not of drugs or misadventure but, essentially, of old age and decay. Frankie Knuckles, the house DJ and producer, breathed his last recently at the age of just 59,… Read more