Classical music

‘Portrait of a Musician’, thought to be Claudio Monteverdi, c.1590, by a Cremonese artist

The true radical genius of Monteverdi is not in the operas but in the madrigals

18 February 2017 9:00 am

On his 450th anniversary, Alexandra Coghlan celebrates the composer’s remarkable musical prescience

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…

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…

Soldiers on the Western Front celebrating Christmas Day in a shell hole partly occupied by the grave of a comrade

The muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Alexandra Coghlan reveals the muddy, bloody origins of a treasured Christmas Eve ritual

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…

Why boredom is good for us

26 November 2016 9:00 am

When did you last experience a boring Sunday afternoon? If you’re over 16, probably not since you were last 16…

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…

It’s hard to justify spending money on Radio 3 – but here’s why we must

24 September 2016 9:00 am

We now think of Radio 3 as the music station, but when it was created in 1946 as the Third…

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…

Grand visions: Birmingham’s Bull Ring shopping centre in 1965, a year after completion

Birmingham can be maddening – but culturally it has a lot to teach London

27 August 2016 9:00 am

On Saturday night, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra makes its first appearance at the BBC Proms under its new…

Show your colours: a digital visualisation of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival’s closing light display

Scotland’s cultural scene is becoming vile, venal and parochial

13 August 2016 9:00 am

Many years ago an arts spokesperson for the SNP launched an extraordinary attack on Scottish Opera, saying, ‘If push comes…

Thomas Adès bottles it in his new opera: The Exterminating Angel reviewed

6 August 2016 9:00 am

In Luis Buñuel’s 1962 film, the ‘exterminating angel’ of the title is a mystery illness. A debilitating virus — much…

Igor Stravinsky’s body being carried through Venice to the Basilica of San Zanipolo, where, by papal dispensation, a Russian Orthodox service was held

Southbank’s ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ series is beyond parody

23 July 2016 9:00 am

A forthcoming ‘festival’ at the Southbank Centre exposes the secular mindset of Britain’s arts establishment, says Damian Thompson

‘We definitely do not live in an avant-garde era’: Pierre-Laurent Aimard interview

11 June 2016 9:00 am

A decade ago, the French pianist and poly-math Pierre-Laurent Aimard announced that he was ‘very bored to live in a…

Not a repertory piece but in its dignity it earns respect: Royal Opera’s Oedipe reviewed

28 May 2016 9:00 am

For years I have been telling people that they should listen to, in the absence of staged performances, Enescu’s opera…

‘His operas offer a straightforward experience’

Verdi’s works are more entertainment than art

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Verdi has a peculiar if not unique place in the pantheon of great composers. If you love classical music at…

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…

Florence Foster Jenkins entertains at home

When opera singers can’t sing

7 May 2016 9:00 am

Were Florence Foster Jenkins and her fellow culprits touchingly heroic, cynically fraudulent or just plain bonkers? Rupert Christiansen reports

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…

If you want to know how music really works listen to Classic FM not Radio 3

7 May 2016 9:00 am

He’s been billed as the new Pied Piper but it’s going to take a while for Tom Service to quite…

Shattering - despite the lack of staging: Czech Phil’s Jenufa reviewed

30 April 2016 9:00 am

Janacek’s Jenufa, his first great opera, had a one-night stand at the Royal Festival Hall last Monday, courtesy of the…