Long to rain over us

If, like me, you abhor rain and its associated displeasures, you may already be rejoicing in the 195th anniversary of a miraculous event that occurred on the date of this publication in 1823: Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), a Scottish chemist, sold his first raincoat. Layers of cloth sandwiched a rubber substance that kept the unwelcome intrusion Read More …

Podcast: 3 orchestral works by Franz Schreker (1878-1934)

The last decade in the life of Austrian composer Frank Schreker (1878-1934) proved a tragic conclusion to his hitherto highly successful career as a teacher, conductor, administrator and composer. In the mid-1920s critics were bearing down on him for failing to step in line with developing compositional styles; by the 1930s his work had come Read More …

Florent Schmitt. An introduction.

The French composer Florent Schmitt was born on 28 September, 1870; he died in 1958. Marking the anniversary of his birth, this week’s blog presents a small selection of his compositions. If you’re unfamiliar with his works, we hope our choice will tempt you to explore further this intriguing composer’s output. For now, we’ll let the Read More …

Podcast: Twelve prisms. One artist.

Raymond Bisha introduces composer-pianist-academic Tanya Ekanayaka through a new release of music for solo piano, composed and performed by herself. The twelve ‘prisms’ derive their stylistic inspiration from a variety of sources that include classical, contemporary, pop, rock, world and film music. The fusion of styles in each movement is rooted in the folk and Read More …

Haydn peek

One of the Naxos label’s distinguishing features is the sustained effort it applies to promoting the music of lesser-known composers, those who are undisputed craftsmen, but have been sadly overshadowed by greater names in the course of music history. Spare a thought, then, for such a composer who was born on the same date as Read More …

Podcast: The Lully effect. Going to the heart of the French Baroque orchestra.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new release of music by three Baroque titans: Lully, Telemann and Rameau. The latter two were hugely influenced by the music of Lully, who was powerfully positioned as the chief musician of King Louis XIV of France. Lully left a rich legacy of dramatic music scored for orchestra. It left an Read More …

Alma. Her life, loves, lieder.

Alma Margaretha Maria Schindler was born on the date of this post, 31 August, in the year 1879. On her death in 1964, aged 85, she had become Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel. Alternatively, Alma Mahler-Werfel. She might be summed up as a Vienna-born composer and socialite who vacuumed up men’s attentions and several wedding Read More …

For Lenny, with love

You’ll need little reminding that this year marks the centenary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, on 25 August, 1918. And you’ll find little opposition to the widely held view that he was, and remains, the greatest musician that America ever produced. Composer-pianist-conductor, he followed the 3-talent tradition of history’s greatest musical luminaries, from Mozart Read More …

Podcast: Contemporary Danish works for accordion.

Invented during the early part of the nineteenth century, the accordion’s popularity soon soared and has been sustained ever since by its adaptability to many styles of music, from folk to heavy metal. Virtuoso performer Hanzhi Wang presents an intriguing compilation of classical works from Denmark, where numerous composers have followed the example of Per Read More …

Allongers and Marchongers

It took me a while to figure out exactly to what or to whom Charles Dickens was referring when talking of the Allongers and Marchongers in his novel Little Dorrit. The story opens in Marseilles c. 1826; the penny eventually dropped that the terms were describing soldiers singing Allons! and Marchons! in full voice; and Read More …