Music

Spare us the gerontophilia

11 February 2017 9:00 am

Brahms didn’t always have a beard. The picture in the London Symphony Orchestra’s programme book showed him clean-shaven, and rightly.…

Not many concerts should be as devastating as this: Philharmonia Orchestra/Nelsons reviewed

28 January 2017 9:00 am

It used to be said that Bruckner composed the same symphony nine times, whereas, thanks to the comparative frequency of…

Does Radio 3 really need to tiptoe around every controversy?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

This week the Southbank Centre began its ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ festival — a series of concerts and talks claiming…

The sound of very earnest millennials making music: The xx’s I See you reviewed

21 January 2017 9:00 am

The xx is a trio of Londoners whose eponymous first album, released in 2009, has defined the way pop music…

Nonsense squared: Alice’s Adventures Under Ground reviewed

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Gerald Barry loved playing organ for Protestants as they allowed him a lie in. Then they found out he wasn’t…

A surprising number of great composers were fond of the bottle – but can you hear it?

10 December 2016 9:00 am

‘Brahms and Liszt’ is a lovely bit of rhyming slang, but it doesn’t have the ring of authenticity. Can you…

Elvis would have loved it: Elvis in Concert at the O2

3 December 2016 9:00 am

Elvis Aron Presley departed this world on 16 August, 1977. Even if you delight in conspiracy theories and believe the…

I always thought the North and classical music didn’t mix

12 November 2016 9:00 am

Years ago, when I met a famous concert pianist, I was surprised when he greeted me in a northern accent.…

Charles Own performing at the London Piano Festival, Kings Place. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Redferns

Life’s too short for ‘well-crafted’ pieces by musical mediocrities – and Handel

15 October 2016 9:00 am

There’s a folder in my computer’s external hard drive in which you’ll find 24 complete recordings of the Bach Cello…

Performing the Goldberg Variations on the piano involves too many compromises

1 October 2016 9:00 am

The churning, rheumatic mechanism of a harpsichord — notes needling your ears like drops of acid rain — doesn’t necessarily…

Why are so many composers drawn to the Stabat Mater?

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Music likes to tell the same story over and over again. This is part of its tradition but even individual…

The day I tried to rescue the alcoholic former Master of the Queen’s Music

10 September 2016 9:00 am

I was looking forward to going to Malcolm Williamson’s opera English Eccentrics set to a text by Edith Sitwell at…

Sacred ground: Elvis at Graceland, 1957

Memphis is a dream destination for music lovers – but how long will this last?

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The bad news for old rock’n’rollers is that there’s not much time left to stay at Heartbreak Hotel — these…

Mick Jagger at Knebworth, 1976

Stevie Wonder, Genesis, punk and the Stones – 1976 was the year that changed music

20 August 2016 9:00 am

Forty years ago, I spent 14 hours in a large field near the A1 in Hertfordshire. I had just taken…

Electronic Dance Music is not for rebels – it’s for tyrants and drones

30 July 2016 9:00 am

Electronic Dance Music is dying. You may not have noticed. It may not affect you directly. But it’s a really…

In search of Mozart’s Tempest

16 July 2016 9:00 am

This must rank as the most heartbreaking example of premature chicken-counting in musical history. ‘Gotter has made a marvellous free…

Satie invented the cultural poison that is Muzak – why should he be celebrated?

9 July 2016 9:00 am

After peaking at around the tenth instalment, birthday celebrations get progressively less interesting, for their subjects at least. I remember…

We want them not to give us what we want: Radiohead at the Roundhouse reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Radiohead have been at the top of the musical tree for so long now that it’s easy to forget what…

Our neglect of this great working-class British composer is a disgrace

14 May 2016 9:00 am

One of the greatest choral symphonies of the 20th century, entitled Das Siegeslied (Psalm of Victory), has been heard only…

Peter Phillips bids farewell to his music column after 33 years

7 May 2016 9:00 am

This, my 479th, is to be my last contribution as a regular columnist to The Spectator. I have written here…

The rotten fruits of Peter Maxwell Davies’s modernism

9 April 2016 9:00 am

The intransigence of Maxwell Davies, Boulez and Stockhausen is coming home to roost. Here were three composers, famous if not…

Why is the organ such hard work?

13 February 2016 9:00 am

My old Oxford college, Mansfield, isn’t a famous establishment, though its current principal, ‘Baroness Helena Kennedy’, as she incorrectly styles…

A musician plays in the lobby of the Regal hotel in Hong Kong. Photo: Lucas Schifres/Bloomberg/Getty Images

If we really cared about mental health, muzak would be a top priority

30 January 2016 9:00 am

No one is consulted. No one is held to account. No one has the authority to turn it off. How…

Was Barenboim happy hiding inside a provincial orchestra from Venezuela?

23 January 2016 9:00 am

Daniel Barenboim back at the Festival Hall! Cue The Grand March of the Musical Luvvies Across Hungerford Bridge, a bustling…

Spare us this unanimous chorus of praise for Pierre Boulez

16 January 2016 9:00 am

Pierre Boulez, who died last week at the age of 90, would have been the last person, one hopes, to…