Festival: City of music

18 December 2010 12:00 am

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.

Bring on the warmth

11 December 2010 12:00 am

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.

Box of delights

4 December 2010 12:00 am

Sitting on my desk as I write are two objects of wonder and delight.

MacMillan’s loyalty

4 December 2010 12:00 am

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.

Rare voices

13 November 2010 12:00 am

The Church of England is not known for being tirelessly dogmatic in the face of shifting public opinion, just for being buffeted by it.

Fashionable folk

13 November 2010 12:00 am

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.)

Pirate and boy scout

6 November 2010 12:00 am

Keith Richards is a cross between Johnny B. Goode and Captain Hook.

Hitting the wrong note

6 November 2010 12:00 am

When I told a young pianist that I was planning to write a piece about wrong notes he nearly tore my throat out.

Healthy competition

23 October 2010 12:00 am

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.

Imagine there’s no Lennon

16 October 2010 12:00 am

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

Sound barrier

9 October 2010 12:00 am

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.

Big spender

2 October 2010 12:00 am

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.

Merging poetry and song

25 September 2010 12:00 am

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.

Learning to listen

18 September 2010 12:00 am

How Music Works opens with a blizzard of reassurances.

House music

11 September 2010 12:00 am

When you really want to feel miserable, read a few lifestyle features in a glossy magazine.

The perfect book

24 July 2010 12:00 am

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 sound of eternity

30 June 2010 12:00 am

The Ninth is not necessarily Beethoven’s greatest symphony.

High priest of bop

23 June 2010 12:00 am

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.'

Fate, death and Alma

23 June 2010 12:00 am

Gustav Mahler is the most subjective, the most autobiographical, of composers.

Kurt’s my man

28 April 2010 12:00 am

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.

No example to follow

3 February 2010 12:00 am

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.

Mum, dad and the music

21 October 2009 12:00 am

Bob Geldof is quoted on the cover of Gary Kemp’s autobiography with untypical succinctness: ‘Great bloke, great band, great book’.

The ex factor

9 September 2009 12:00 am

At first, the plot of Nick Hornby’s new novel, Juliet, Naked, seems too close to that of his first novel, High Fidelity (1995).

Sounding a different note

20 May 2009 12:00 am

Midsummer Nights, edited by Jeanette Winterson

One out of five

6 May 2009 12:00 am

Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro