Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942). An introduction.

This week’s blog marks the anniversary of the birth of the Jewish Czech composer Erwin Schulhoff, on 8 June 1894. His artistic abilities soon became apparent, and a musical career was decided on following a recommendation from no less a figure than Antonín Dvořák. Schulhoff studied at the Prague Conservatory from 1904, followed by piano Read More …

Viola concertos

It’s been on my conscience for a while now that in a previous blog I was ungracious enough to use a clutch of jokes at the expense of viola players to spice up the narrative. Although such witticisms will no doubt remain in the profession’s repartee for some time yet, I thought I would try Read More …

Can I quote you?

Borrowing other people’s music and weaving it into your own composition is far from uncommon. We’re not talking plagiarism here i.e. passing other people’s music off as your own, which seems to happen far more regularly in pop music than in classical. A composer might borrow from himself, which explains why you might get a Read More …

Pizz eerier?

The ten years I spent as a newspaper arts reporter carry many happy memories of interviewing world-leading artists and academics. My recollections of their contributions to classical music brim with unforgettable anecdotes, both heart-warming and disturbing. Being based in south east Asia, the latter usually referenced the dark days of China’s Cultural Revolution; the former 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 …

Oxymoron for Orchestra

When is a concerto not a concerto? We’re all familiar with the term when it implies a soloist in a tug-of-tunes display, riding atop a generally subservient orchestra; and works such as the Brahms Double Concerto and the Beethoven Triple are a self-explanatory extension of that arrangement. The Baroque concerto grosso also neatly reflects the Read More …

National airs and graces

One of the side discussions during the Scottish independence referendum held last month focused on what that country’s national anthem might be, should the majority vote to separate from the United Kingdom. Following the outcome of the referendum, the question became redundant. It got me thinking, however, about the anthems of three European nations in Read More …