Was there a golden age of English music a hundred years ago? From today’s vantage-point there probably was.
Lucerne is a city with powerful musical associations, the most celebrated being Wagner’s living there for the six years between 1866 and 1872, the most tranquil of his life, in Haus Triebschen, now a magnificent Wagner museum.
Cold weather demands warm music. To which end I am delighted that Mojo, the monthly rock magazine for the more gnarled music fan, has chosen as its album of the year Queen of Denmark by John Grant.
Sitting on my desk as I write are two objects of wonder and delight.
In the first week of September, the Scottish composer James MacMillan sat in the ‘composition hut’ in the backyard of his Glasgow house, finishing the music he’d been commissioned to write for the Pope’s Mass at Westminster Cathedral.
The Church of England is not known for being tirelessly dogmatic in the face of shifting public opinion, just for being buffeted by it.
I have never felt greatly inclined to grow a beard myself. (Not that I could ever manage the full naval Prince Michael of Kent. A rather precious goatee would probably be the limit of my facial hair-growing powers, and the contumely and derision it would surely attract from all right-thinking people obviously rule that out.)
Keith Richards is a cross between Johnny B. Goode and Captain Hook.
When I told a young pianist that I was planning to write a piece about wrong notes he nearly tore my throat out.
The 2010 Gramophone Awards took me by surprise the other day — quite possibly because I took no interest in the 2009 Awards and therefore may have missed out on a trend.
True, we’d have lost some nice songs. But we might also be free of a great deal of today’s fatuous pop-star posturing
I had been waiting a while for it to happen, and happen it did last weekend. ‘Turn your music down,’ said my 11-year-old daughter from the next room.
Three months ago I wrote here about my chronic Amazon habit, in which I recklessly buy books, DVDs and CDs I will never have time to read, watch or listen to. It has been costing me as much as drink did when I was still a practising alcoholic.
The best book so far about Bob Dylan, the only one worthy of his oeuvre, is his own astonishing Chronicles, Volume One (2004), but while we wait for the next fix, Bob Dylan in America will keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay.
How Music Works opens with a blizzard of reassurances.
When you really want to feel miserable, read a few lifestyle features in a glossy magazine.
Like Nelson Eddy, Devon Malcolm and the composer Havergal Brian, the critic Greil Marcus has one of those names that is all the more memorable for being obviously the wrong way round.
The Ninth is not necessarily Beethoven’s greatest symphony.
In the Rainbow Grill in New York one evening in 1971, according to Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of History and American Studies at the University of Southern California, Duke Ellington halted his band in mid-flow and announced: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the baddest left hand in the history of jazz just walked into the room, Mr Thelonious Monk.'
Gustav Mahler is the most subjective, the most autobiographical, of composers.
This week I am handing over the column to David Vick, who has contributed what I regard as the best (so far) of all the Top Tens I have received.
Ahundred years ago, a character in a novel who was keen on music would, like E.M. Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch or Leo- nard Bast, be as apt to stumble through a piece at the piano as listen to it at a concert.
Bob Geldof is quoted on the cover of Gary Kemp’s autobiography with untypical succinctness: ‘Great bloke, great band, great book’.
At first, the plot of Nick Hornby’s new novel, Juliet, Naked, seems too close to that of his first novel, High Fidelity (1995).
Midsummer Nights, edited by Jeanette Winterson