Music

Wilhelm Furtwängler shaking hands with Hitler after a concert in 1939. Photo: Ullstein Bild/ Getty Images

The truth about Wilhelm Furtwängler

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The morning after the first night of Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides in May 1995, I received a call from Otto…

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO at the Barbican

Rattle’s recapitulation: LSO/Simon Rattle at Barbican reviewed

22 September 2018 9:00 am

A pregnant silence, a peaty belch from the tuba, and the scrape of brass on brass as gears lock into…

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013

As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

22 September 2018 9:00 am

No one any longer denies the immense significance of Wagner’s musical-dramatic achievement, even if they find it repellent. But his…

‘Catholic music is often excruciating – I call it “Joan Baez meets Hildegard of Bingen in a 1970s cocktail lounge.”’ Baez: Pierre Andrieu /AFP/Getty Images Bach: Rischgitz/Getty Images

How Bach lifted my spirits at my mother's funeral

15 September 2018 9:00 am

I was at a funeral the other day at which the music was so inspiring that I struggled to feel…

Chorus of approval: the ENO chorus gives it the full Broadway, triple threats to a man, in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Photo: Genevieve Girling)

Often baffling but ultimately entertaining: Britten’s Paul Bunyan reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I feel I have learned lots about what not to write for the theatre…’ There’s a prevailing idea that the…

Kirill Petrenko conducting the Berlin Philharmonic at the 2018 Proms. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

The gentle side of Bruckner: Rotterdam Philharmonic's Prom reviewed

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The lady behind me on Kensington Gore clearly felt that she owed her friend an apology: ‘It’s Bruckner. I don’t…

‘I’m unusually disaster-prone’

The man who’s spent 40 years trying (and failing) to become a pop star

8 September 2018 9:00 am

Michael Hann talks to the critically acclaimed musician who has been trying (and failing) to become a pop star since 1979

Jozsefs Lendvai and Lendvay with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Proms. Image: BBC/Chris Christodoulos

The Budapest Festival Orchestra makes other orchestras look routine and oafish

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Looney Tunes was always at its best when soundtracked by a Hungarian gypsy dance. (Watch ‘Pigs in a Polka’ if…

A Beggar’s Opera that beggars belief in Edinburgh

25 August 2018 9:00 am

Robert Carsen’s new updating of The Beggar’s Opera is a coke-snorting, trash-talking, breakdancing, palm-greasing, skirt-hiking, rule-breaking affair — and every…

Currentzis's Beethoven asked us to listen with our bodies rather than our minds

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Some conductors conduct from the fingers — think of Gergiev’s convulsive gestures, flickering up and down the keyboard of an…

The indispensable recorded legacy of Rafael Kubelik

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Rafael Kubelik is watching Wimbledon when I enter his suite at the Savoy. ‘Tennis fan?’ I ask, slightly surprised. He…

The virtuoso virtue-signallers of classical music

7 July 2018 9:00 am

All my life I’ve wanted to compose music, and now I’ve done it. I’ve written a sonata for solo flute…

Pianist Clifford Curzon, composer Sir Arthur Bliss and musicologist Hans Keller at the very first Leeds International Piano Contest. Photo: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

You vote for my pupil, I’ll vote for yours – the truth about music competitions

23 June 2018 9:00 am

A young Korean, 22 years old, won the Dublin International Piano Competition last month. Nothing unusual about that. Koreans and…

Garsington makes as good a case as you can for Strauss's frothy Capriccio

9 June 2018 9:00 am

‘Is there an end [to this opera] that is not trivial?’ asks the Countess in her final bars of Richard…

Cold and confusing: Garsington's Die Zauberflöte reviewed

9 June 2018 9:00 am

The picnic hamper’s open, the bubbly is chilled, and country house opera is starting to eat itself. When you arrive…

One of the last remaining all-boys' choirs in Britain, St George's Chapel Choir, which sang in the recent royal wedding in Windsor

I dread the extinction of boys’ choirs

2 June 2018 9:00 am

One by one, cathedrals have succumbed to the inevitable. In blazes of publicity, with front-page photographs of girls in cassocks…

What a wasted opportunity: Jonas Kaufmann's Four Last Songs reviewed

26 May 2018 9:00 am

No wonder we have a problem with classical music in this country. The week started in celebration. The stats are…

How does David Matthews get away with writing symphonies with tunes in them?

19 May 2018 9:00 am

‘All fish in flood and fowl of flight/ Be mirthful now and make melody’ writes the poet William Dunbar in…

Dudamel's Amériques made The Rite of Spring sound like Einaudi

12 May 2018 9:00 am

Apparently it’s called ‘expectation management’. Pollux, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, takes its name from…

Bravura, assurance and generosity: Mark Simpson's new Cello Concerto reviewed

28 April 2018 9:00 am

The opening of Mark Simpson’s new Cello Concerto is pure Hollywood. A fanfare in the low brass, an upwards rush…

An unmitigated triumph: Salome at Opera North reviewed

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Salome is my favourite opera by Richard Strauss, the only one where there is no danger, at any point, of…

Closing the Queen Elizabeth Hall invigorated the new music scene. Why reopen it?

21 April 2018 9:00 am

Imagine the National inviting RuPaul to play Hamlet. Or Tate giving Beryl Cook a retrospective. The London Sinfonietta offered a…

The greatest recording of Mozart's Requiem

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Glenn Gould used to say that Mozart died too late rather than too early. The remark was intended to get…

Iceland’s national composer returns from oblivion

7 April 2018 9:00 am

The lur is a horn, modelled in bronze after a number of 3,000-year-old instruments discovered at various archaeological sites across…

How the Moody Blues only became good once they realised they were crap

24 March 2018 9:00 am

Rarely has one irate punter so affected a band’s trajectory. Without the anger of the man who went to see…