A Fab Four

The week ahead moves between the Zodiac signs of Leo (ends August 22) and Virgo (starts August 23). No doubt there’s a gradual astrological change of character traits between people born under the respective signs, but this particular week of 19-25 August marks the anniversaries of the births of four people who all bear a Read More …

Echoes of Edinburgh

August 5 marks the opening of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival [EIF]. Together with the Fringe Festival’s cladding of some three thousand satellite events, EIF’s exhaustive programme of theatre, music, dance and opera runs until August 29. In the words of The Spectator: “… you can sleep in September.” Founded in 1947, EIF has developed Read More …

A Magnificent Seven

Alan Fletcher is the president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival, one of America’s leading classical music events. He has every reason to be proud of the festival’s history and achievements; but he’s less enamoured of his country’s track record in promoting the works of certain 20th-century American symphonists. Last month he elaborated on Read More …

You ditty rats!

The Brothers Grimm cited the date as 26 June 1284; Robert Browning gave 22 July 1376. Different dates, same event: the occasion when the Pied Piper, cheated of his promised reward for clearing Hamelin of its infestation of rats, led the children of the town away and into a mountainous cavern, never to be seen Read More …

Circles in sound

Mediaeval religion held to a belief in the perfect essence of the Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and so it followed that notated music in triple time was announced by the symbol of perfection for its time signature: a circle. Music in duple time shattered that notion of perfection and was represented by a shattered circle, Read More …

Mastering the Music(k)

The longevity of the British monarchy is currently in the spotlight, with the official birthday of the 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth II being marked tomorrow and Prince Philip, her husband, celebrating his 95th birthday today, 10 June. The royal ceremonial displays for which Britain has become renowned rely to a large extent on the grandeur of Read More …

Sailing the high Cs

Florence Foster Jenkins, the Hollywood biopic of the eponymous American amateur soprano, opened in UK cinemas this week; American movie-goers have to wait until August before being able to appreciate Meryl Streep’s commanding performance in the title role. Acting performance, that is. You may be new to the legend of FFJ (1868–1944), so we’ll start Read More …

Oceania’s Eleven (almost)

After its extensive navigation of New Zealand, it was Botany Bay in Australia that saw the arrival of James Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour in 1770 on the date of publication for this week’s blog, 29 April. Botany Bay’s postcode is now attached to Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous Read More …

Bard lines


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Pinpointing the dates of Shakespeare’s birth and death has always involved a margin of error, but arts communities all over the world will be using tomorrow, April 23, as a focal point of reverence for the English playwright and poet, whose passing is generally reckoned to have occurred on this date in 1616. As part Read More …