Music

Russian virtuoso pianist Jascha Spivakovsky, 1920 (Photo: Getty)

Jascha Spivakovsky: the great lost pianist we can finally hear

Music

William Kapell was an American concert pianist with the looks of a male model and the fingers of a wizard. He played the concertos of Rachmaninov at dashing speed but with delicate precision. He was snapped up by RCA in… Read more

Ruben Gonzalez (Photo: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty)

The band that nearly saved the Cuban revolution

Music

By chance, my first night in Havana in 1987 was the night the clubs went dark to mark the death of Enrique Jorrin, the inventor of the cha-cha-cha, whose rhythmic brainstorm had gone global. My grandparents used to dance cha-cha-cha… Read more

After countless hours of secret discussion the successor to Simon Rattle was announced as Krill Petrenko (Photo: Getty)

Why are symphony orchestras expected to survive indefinitely?

Music

Watching the Berlin Philharmonic going into conclave to choose a successor to Simon Rattle — after countless hours of secret discussion they have chosen Kirill Petrenko — reminds one of little less than the election of a pope. In both… Read more

Disc jockey Anne Nightingale, 1964 (Photo: Getty)

Compiling my greatest hits (and my Twitter trolls')

Music

Compilation schompilation. Having been in music for as long as I have you would think I had a good idea how record companies work. I’ve made two compilations before. But it’s a whole new big thing now in the music… Read more

After coming forth in the Tchaikovsky competition, Lucas Debargue is the only competitor anyone is talking about

The real winner in the Tchaikovsky competition is the man who came last

Music

Lucas Debargue, a 24-year-old French pianist, came fourth in the finale of the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow on 30 June, yet he’s the only competitor anyone is talking about. Why? The main reason is that they’re riveted by his backstory.… Read more

proms

New works at the Proms that some would rather dernière than première

Music

This year the Proms are to stage 21 world premières and 11 European, UK or London premières. It is good to see the corporation continuing its mission to encourage new music, though some think they overdo it. I heard one… Read more

Patti Smith introduces the Dalai Lama to the crowd (Photo: Getty)

Michael Eavis has brought more joy to more people than almost any Englishman alive

Music

I had meant to write a dispassionate account of this year’s Glastonbury, really I had. But I’m afraid my plans were ruined by a chance encounter on the final day with my old friend Michael Eavis — the distinctively bearded… Read more

One of Wilford's most treasured clients Herbert von Karajan. Photo: Getty Images

The most powerful man in classical music

Music

When Margaret Thatcher imagined perfect power, she thought of the orchestral conductor. ‘She envied me,’ said Herbert von Karajan, ‘that people always did what I requested.’ Power, however, is a mirage that fades as you get close. What Mrs Thatcher… Read more

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Is this the greatest piano work of the 21st century?

Music

The award of a knighthood to the composer James MacMillan will have ruined last weekend for lots of unsavoury people: the Guardian arts desk, which decided he’d lost his mojo as soon as he turned his back on the left;… Read more

Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons (Photo: Getty)

A reason to (almost) like Mumford & Sons

Music

Like a lot of essentially cautious people, I like my music to take some risks, play with fire and damn the consequences. In truth, of course, most musicians are every bit as conservative as the rest of us: they do… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

I fear for this year’s Proms

Music

As Sepp Blatter has so affectingly remarked, the organisation he formerly headed needs evolution, not revolution. There is a consensus that this is also what David Pickard will bring to the Proms, when he takes over after this season. Of… Read more

How can Stevie Nicks be 67? Is this possible or has Wikipedia made a mistake?

Unutterably thrilling: Fleetwood Mac at the O2 reviewed

Music

‘I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to get this chance in life,’ said Christine McVie, as the opening jangle to ‘Everywhere’ rang out. Judging by their ecstatic reaction, the audience felt much the same way. Look, I’ll… Read more

Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden  (Photo: Getty)

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

Music

The morning after the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra failed to elect a music director, I took a call from Bild-Zeitung, Berlin’s most popular tabloid, seeking analysis. Later, they asked me to write a full-page op-ed. Now shut your eyes a moment… Read more

And then there were four: One Direction (Photo: Getty)

If One Direction lost one more member, would they be quorate?

Music

Where were you when you heard that Zayn Malik had left One Direction? No, me neither, but as my teenage daughter reports, an entire generation of female youth appears to have been traumatised by the event. Not that she gives… Read more

Peter Phillips. Photo: Valerie Batselaere

The Tallis Scholars puke their way across the Americas

Music

Tours that start in Mexico have a nasty habit of repeating on one. Of all the British groups touring in the United States at the moment, we were the only one to launch our efforts there. But the upshot is… Read more

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Getty)

Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

Music

Daniel Barenboim is back in town: the South Bank is mounting a ‘Barenboim Project 2015’ in which he’s playing the Schubert piano sonatas and conducting his magnificent Berlin Staatskapelle in Elgar’s Second Symphony and Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, with Martha… Read more

Chris Rainbow fan: DJ Kenny Everett Photo: Getty

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

Music

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely with us. Soon I shall have to start apologising for returning to this subject with such regularity, but barely a… Read more

Written by Mrs Bach: Anna Magdelena Bach Photo: BBC

Our hero worship of Bach is to blame for rubbish like ‘Written By Mrs Bach’

Music

My impression that Bach has come to rival Shakespeare as a flawless reference point in the cultural life of the nation has recently received some further corroboration. Remember the fuss that some academics, in the hope of recognition, created around… Read more

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran poses with his Brits Awards for album of the year and male solo artist Photo: Getty

Why you should never trust songwriting credits

Music

Songwriting credits are, as we know, not always to be trusted. Since the dawn of music publishing, there has always been a manager or an agent or a well-connected representative of organised crime willing to take a small cut of… Read more

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There’s nothing wrong with getting into Thomas Tallis on the back of Fifty Shades of Grey

Music

Great works of art may have a strange afterlife. Deracinated from the world that created them they are at the mercy of what people think is important centuries later. Nothing shows this more clearly than the contribution that Tallis’s ‘Spem… Read more

Simon Rattle with the Berlin Phil at the Barbican. Photo: Mark Allan / Barbican

Classical music's greatest political butt-kissers: Dudamel, Gergiev and Rattle

Music

On 8 March 2013, Gustavo Dudamel stood by the coffin of the Marxist autocrat Hugo Chavez and conducted the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in the Venezuelan national anthem. He assumed, like everyone else, that the coffin contained a fresh corpse:… Read more

James Blunt Photo: Getty

James Blunt's sense of entitlement is so palpable you could wear it as a hat

Music

Only a fool would mess with James Blunt. As his Twitter followers know, he has a sharp wit, and, as befits a former officer in the Life Guards, he is always ready for a fight. Indeed, the grievous suffering around… Read more

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY

Spotify: saint or sinner?

Music

We have all read about the current woeful state of the CD industry — how it is 28 per cent down on last year, which was 25 per cent down on the previous year, and so on — but do… Read more

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Confessions of an illegal downloader

Music

I’ve never been into shoplifting, though I once had a friend who was. And, no, before you ask, I’m not using that old ‘friend’ device to hide my own identity. She was a girl I met at university. Bookshops were… Read more

2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival - Weekend 2 - Day 1

His lyrics are hopeless, his covers are catastrophic, yet I still love Bryan Ferry

Music

There were two new albums I wanted for Christmas — the Bryan Ferry and the Pink Floyd — and to my delight I got both. Others may prefer the unknown and the experimental as presents, but at this time of… Read more

A pair of iron "castratori" are held in front of a painting of Italian Castrati singer Gaetano Guadagni Photo: Getty

Does anyone have the balls to bring back castrati?

Music

One of the most complete bars to the authentic performance of both baroque opera and some renaissance polyphony is the current unavailability of castrati. There isn’t much to be done about it of course, but we might regret that we… Read more

"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