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Stephen Walsh rss

Composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle Photo: Redferns

The yes-no-maybe world of Harrison Birtwistle

31 May 2014
Harrison Birtwistle: Wild Tracks Fiona Maddocks

Faber, pp.318, £22.50, ISBN: 9780571308118

For better or worse, we live in the age of the talking composer. Some talk well, some badly, a few — the strong, silent types — keep their mouths shut,… Read more

Edward Greenfield with André Previn in front of the Royal Festival Hall, c.1970.

Portrait of a Guardian music critic

8 February 2014
Portrait Gallery: A Life in Classical Music Edward Greenfield

Elliott & Thompson, pp.306, 16.99, ISBN: 9781909653580

We critics seldom write our memoirs, perhaps because we skulk away our lives in dark corners, avoiding the public gaze, plying our shameful trade like streetwalkers or pushers of hard… Read more

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the  performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

Shostakovich, Leningrad, and the greatest story ever played

11 January 2014
Leningrad: Siege and Symphony Brian Moynahan

Quercus, pp.558, £25, ISBN: 9780857383006

The horrors of the Leningrad siege — the 900 Days of Harrison Salisbury’s classic — have been pretty well picked over by historians; and meanwhile the story of Shostakovich’s Seventh… Read more

Leonard Bernstein in 1945

Did Leonard Bernstein do too much to be a great artist?

16 November 2013
The Leonard Bernstein Letters Nigel Simeone

Yale, pp.606, £25, ISBN: 9780300179095

Nigel Simeone’s title for his edition of Leonard Bernstein’s correspondence rings compellingly, novellistically, through the force of the definite article, as in The Aspern Papers, or The Scarlet Letter. The… Read more

J.S. Bach: more complex and human than 
the Haussmann portrait suggests

Was Bach as boring as this picture suggests?

26 October 2013
Music in the Castle of Heaven John Eliot Gardiner

Allen Lane, pp.629, £30, ISBN: 9780713996623

What, one wonders, will John Eliot Gardiner be chiefly remembered for? Perhaps, by many who have worked with him, for his notorious rudeness to performers and colleagues. At one point… Read more