May. In names and notions.

May’s music. From Theresa May to Frederick May, the dawn of The First of May to the dusk of May Nights—we can view the month through a variety of musical optics which we’ve assembled for this week’s blog. Our earliest example comes from 16th-century England in a ballet by Thomas Morley (1557–1602), but that’s not Read More …

27 April. 4 anniversaries.

It’s worth pausing today to remember four notable musicians, the anniversaries of whose deaths all fall on 27 April. Sigismond Thalberg (1812–1871) was a virtuoso pianist considered by some of his contemporaries as a rival to Franz Liszt. Although his death in Italy on 27 April 1871 is clearly documented, details of his birth and Read More …

April playbill

We’re well into April, the name derived from the Latin word aperit which means ‘opening’. Flowers and trees in the northern hemisphere do indeed begin to bloom at this time, but April can be a most confusing, if not frustrating month: drearily wet one day, promisingly warm the next, armed with surprises and contradictions, daisies Read More …

Puerto Rico. Feeling the pulse.

The American composer Roberto Sierra was born in Vega Baja, in north central Puerto Rico, in 1953. I thought of him repeatedly in 2017, when Hurricane Maria was doing her worst as the most destructive natural disaster on record for the island. Sierra is currently the Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Cornell Read More …

Ire and Fury

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak. So wrote William Congreve in 1697, as the opening lines of his poem The Mourning Bride. I’m sure we’ve all experienced music’s power to calm us down, chill us out and turn our doldrums into a more optimistic state Read More …

It simply could not have been written by a woman!

“Freed from the shackles and tatters of the old tradition and prejudice, American and European women in music are now universally hailed as important factors in the concert and teaching fields and as … fast developing assets in the creative spheres of the profession.” This affirmation was made in 1935 by Frédérique Petrides, the Belgian-born Read More …

The sound of sirens

Mermaids, part woman, part fish. Sirens, part woman, part bird. Their natural environs, water. While mermaids swim with a gentler reputation, sirens are branded by their seductive powers, luring seafarers to their destruction on treacherous rocks. How are they represented in the recording catalogue? Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Little Mermaid, first published in Read More …

Fake blues

If you’ve got to reading this far, then the title has served its eye-catching purpose and needs to be mitigated somewhat, for nothing can question the integrity of jazz. Let’s instead call this Thought for the Week ‘a muse on the blues’, and take a listen to how classical music has taken on board the Read More …

Global dawning

A note for those who come to life only after the second mug of coffee each morning: this blog is probably not for you. Our subject this week is that magical time before sunrise when dark gives way incrementally to light: dawn. It can be a magical few minutes, not least when birds limber up Read More …

Concerto superbo!

At the time of sitting down to write this edition of Thought for the Week, I decided to consult the Naxos monthly bestsellers  lists and consider writing a retrospective about our 2017 market leaders. While reviewing the January-October rankings, two things stood out. First, in no fewer than three of those months, the bestselling release Read More …