Wine bars

At the start of my teaching career, way back in the 1970s, I had to drive through deep countryside to reach the school where I worked. One memory from that period recalls passing a farm where, every afternoon, strains of Elgar’s orchestral music wafted over fields of corn from the cowsheds. The farmer was convinced Read More …

Podcast: Fusion and flowerpots. Music by Lou Harrison.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the American composer Lou Harrison, who distinguished himself through his pioneering works in writing for percussion and integrating Western and Eastern idioms. “Everything in the world should be considered a legitimate influence,” he said. In his music, however, the sounds of the largely percussive Javanese Read More …

Podcast: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Reminiscent of the music of Smetana and Dvořák, Vitĕzslav Novák’s works are surprisingly little known outside his native Bohemia. Peter Hall talks with JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, about the latest release in her long list of recordings for Naxos that both surprise and delight with their engaging discoveries. Here they unwrap Read More …

Sleeping beauties

You may have missed it, but March 17 was World Sleep Day. Its slogan: ‘Sleep soundly, nurture life.’ Part of its mission: ‘ …to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.’ Ernest Hemingway would probably have signed up: ‘I love sleep. My life has a tendency Read More …

Ad lib.

#MyFreedomDay takes place on March 14. It’s a project conducted in partnership with CNN, during which young people around the world will be holding events to raise awareness of modern slavery. If you thought that human trafficking was neatly tucked away into history’s dark chapter on the African slave trade, then you will have to Read More …

Podcast: Stanisław Moniuszko’s sparkling legacy of dance music

Stanisław Moniuszko (1819–1872) may not be a household name today, but in 19th-century Poland his reputation as one of the country’s most significant composers was in no doubt. Statues were erected in his honour, competitions were named after him, and his portrait was included on postage stamps and banknotes. His life and prolific output ran Read More …

Facing the music

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it hard to put names to faces on occasion. Which got me thinking about composers who have put music to faces, names, personalities, and so on. The practice has quite a long history, but for this week’s blog I’ve homed in on some examples from the past hundred Read More …

Podcast: Music to refresh the soul

The Elora Singers lend their meticulous, magical sound to the captivating music of Patrick Hawes, one of England’s most popular and inspirational choral composers. Raymond Bisha introduces the works on their programme, most of them in world première recordings. The dramatic imagery of Revelation finds a spiritual counterpart in the reflective Beatitudes, the two major Read More …

Podcast: Suite sounds. Strauss rescored.

The Buffalo Philharmonic’s latest release showcases two suites of music by Richard Strauss: the first, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, one of the composer’s favourite scores and an absolute jewel of incidental music; the second, a new symphonic orchestral suite of his opulent opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. Conductor JoAnn Falletta discusses both the music and the context Read More …