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Michael Henderson rss

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Notes on... Venice

8 March 2014

For Henry James it was ‘the repository of consolations’. Wordsworth, an earlier visitor, called it ‘the eldest child of liberty’. Ruskin, a self-professed ‘foster child of Venice’, dedicated his life… Read more

Stuart Skelton in the acclaimed ENO production of ‘Peter Grimes’

What now for ENO?

22 February 2014

It has been a bracing start to the year at English National Opera. David Alden’s production of Peter Grimes, praised to the skies for the musical performance under Edward Gardner,… Read more

The British Academy Film Awards - Heads On Sticks

And the prize for most fatuous awards ceremony goes to...

15 February 2014

‘Prizes are for boys,’ said Charles Ives, the American composer, upon receiving the Pulitzer in 1947, ‘and I’ve grown up now.’ He was using humour to make a serious point,… Read more

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Goodbye, Claudio Abbado. You helped us glimpse eternity

25 January 2014

Fellini’s credo ‘the visionary is the only true realist’ could also be applied to the life of Claudio Abbado, who died earlier this week in Bologna at the age of… Read more

New Year’s Day at the Musikverein

Music in Vienna

14 December 2013

There is no finer city in which to hear music than Vienna. Or, to put it more felicitously, there is no finer city in which to listen to music for,… Read more

‘The Nativity’, 1470–1485, by Piero della Francesca

The splendour of the English carol

14 December 2013

The most celebrated Christmas carol, ‘Silent Night’, belongs to Austria. Father Joseph Mohr, the priest at Oberndorf, a small village near Salzburg, wrote it in 1818. Set to music by… Read more

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Don't flog a dead parrot - leave Monty Python in the past

30 November 2013

You can’t go home again, as the Americans say. It’s worth running that adage, taken from Thomas Wolfe’s unfinished novel of 1938, past those zealots who snapped up 20,000 tickets… Read more

Berlin

Berlin: The best bar in the world

16 November 2013

‘You were at the Fish, I hear,’ a Berlin friend told me. ‘I didn’t know you were an old hippie.’ Reputations can cling to places as they do to people.… Read more

Festival di Sanremo 2013 - Closing Night

'I was an arrogant 18-year-old': Daniel Harding on growing up

2 November 2013

‘Have a look at this,’ says Daniel Harding, goggle-eyed, between mouthfuls of salmon. The pictures on his smartphone show Claudio Abbado, one of his mentors, conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in… Read more

Morrissey-caricature

The Morrissey myth

26 October 2013

Drinking in Corbières, a dingy basement bar just off St Ann’s Square, 30 years ago, you could bump into any number of groovy young Mancunians clustered round the jukebox, talking… Read more

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Blitz Requiem première in St Paul’s

21 September 2013

Of all folk memories the Blitz remains one of the most enduring. In the autumn of 1940 the Luftwaffe strafed London on 57 consecutive nights, leaving (if that is the… Read more

England v Australia: 1st Investec Ashes Test - Day Five

Has Test Match Special lost its wits?

20 July 2013

There’s a 13th man at the table at Lord’s this week as England resume the Ashes contest with Australia, which began so thrillingly at Trent Bridge, where England prevailed by… Read more

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Interview with the musician Paul Lewis

4 May 2013

Being an English pianist must be a lonely calling at times. There is no native tradition like the ones that, say, German or Russian musicians are heir to, so many… Read more

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The Hagen Quartet: Bracing Beethoven

13 April 2013

Established 32 years ago in Salzburg, the Hagen Quartet can fairly be described as venerable. It may be said equally fairly that brothers Lukas and Clemens Hagen, their sister Veronika,… Read more

Parsifal at Salzburg Easter Festival

6 April 2013
Parsifal Salzburg Easter Festival

To hear Christian Thielemann conduct the Dresden Staatskapelle in Wagner’s ‘stage consecration play’, in Salzburg at Easter, proved a musical experience that could only deepen anybody’s love of this extraordinary… Read more

Short cut to stardom: Tom Courtenay in 1961

Tom Courtenay vs fame

19 January 2013

‘You can’t talk about what might have been,’ says Tom Courtenay, reflecting on an acting career that blazed like a meteor the moment he left drama school and is now… Read more

Stephen Layton (extreme left) and the choir of Trinity College Cambridge

Chorus of approval

15 December 2012

Is there anything more essential to one’s well-being than the sound of an English choir at evensong? Is there, for that matter, any word in our language more beautiful than… Read more

Bryan Ferry performing at the Royal Albert Hall, 1972

In praise of Bryan Ferry

17 November 2012

Francis Lee, the barrel-chested footballer who banged in goals for Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, was my first idol. Billy Wilder, Johnny Mercer and Philip Larkin rank among the heroes… Read more

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates w

What Federer isn’t

14 July 2012

This summer, like so many others in the past decade, belongs to Roger Federer. By reclaiming the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, after giving Andy Murray a set start, the… Read more

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Notes from Salzburg

30 June 2012

Gratefully we cast our bread upon the blue-green waters of the Salzach to give thanks to this festival city. Across the river the famous castle stands fortress over the old… Read more

Cricket fans reach out to touch West Ind

Whispering death

23 June 2012

It is midsummer, and England are playing the West Indies at cricket. The teams have completed a three-Test series, which England won 2-0, and they are now playing five matches… Read more

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Roy of the readers

5 May 2012

The last time I met Roy Hodgson, at Le Café Anglais, Rowley Leigh’s restaurant in Bayswater, I drew a king from the pack. I presented Roy — the West Bromwich… Read more

Spirit of Schubert

17 March 2012

Every December, for the past decade, I have laid a red rose on Schubert’s grave in Vienna’s southern cemetery. What began as a gesture has become a custom, a way… Read more

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Man about the House

11 February 2012

They are lighting the candles at Covent Garden to honour one of the great singers of our age. Thomas Allen (as he was then) first appeared on the stage of… Read more

Those I have loved

17 December 2011

It is one of Kenneth Tynan’s most-quoted observations. After seeing the first night of Look Back in Anger at the Royal Court Theatre in May 1956, the mustard-keen young critic… Read more