Good mourning, good music

If you’ve already made your will, maybe you’ve also stipulated the music you would like to be played at the assembly for your funeral service. After a lifetime in music, and not once having been able to nominate a favourite piece, I’ve recently opted for a quiet cremation and a silent scattering of ashes. Stirred Read More …

Scoring their centuries

When a composer’s work is marked as his or her Opus 100, it surely marks a milestone in their development. Some composers didn’t make it that far, of course, leaving us wondering what might have been, had they lived long enough or enjoyed circumstances that better facilitated a freedom to compose. Chopin falls into another Read More …

Podcast: JoAnn Falletta introduces Walton’s complete Façades

This podcast features Peter Hall in conversation with JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, about her latest release on the Naxos label—a recording of William Walton’s Façades 1 and 2, together with four additional movements. The conversation takes us from Walton’s university days to his association with the poet Edith Sitwell and his Read More …

Mere trifles?

Labelling Beethoven’s Für Elise a mere trifle might appear insulting to such a household name and piano solo favourite. But that’s exactly what his Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor is, ’une bagatelle’ translating from the French as ’a trifling matter’. This blog examines the recipes composers have used for a selection of bagatelles over Read More …

August by name, not by nature.

Here’s a small selection of works celebrating August, not as an evocative month approaching Autumn, but as a dedicatee (August Bournonville), a composer’s name (August Baeyens, Friedrich August Belcke), a source of literary inspiration (August von Platen-Hallermünde, August Strindberg), and an arranger (August Eberhard Müller). Hans Christian Lumbye (1810–1874) began staging concerts in the manner Read More …

Warpaths

It’s maybe too convenient to restrict references to war to big anniversary dates, so this blog presents a small selection of musical works that paint the subject of conflict in tuneful reminders of how wearisome and worthless the daily pursuit is. There’s no place like home, as they say, so I’m going to start with Read More …

Don’t talk nonsense. Sing it!

With so many world events defying logic right now, I thought we might escape briefly into a space where words make no attempt to stack up, but merely divert for a while and lighten the spirit. Welcome to the literary worlds of Lewis Carroll, William Brighty Rands, Hilaire Belloc and someone called Mr Traditional. We Read More …

Visions of the past

While most people tend to seek visions of the future—especially where lottery tickets are concerned—this blog cites four works featuring musical visions from the past. Opening the programme is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 1956 motet for choir and organ, A Vision of Aeroplanes, which may seem a curious title for a work that’s a setting of Read More …

Competition lore

Although they have their detractors, national and international music competitions continue to stand the test of time. The process of, and progress through the various qualifying stages, together with the recording and performance opportunities that often prostrate themselves before the ultimate winners, clearly represent an attractive mix. Despite moments of controversy in its history, the Read More …