In the wrong place at the wrong time.

When I decided to focus this week’s blog on the end of World War I, the centenary of which is marked this Sunday, Armistice Day, little did I think I’d be opening with a Franz Liszt connection and continuing with sketches of a group of musicians who were simply in the wrong place at the Read More …

Podcast: Relishing the realism. Orchestral music by Alfred Bruneau.

Raymond Bisha introduces a programme of orchestral music by Alfred Bruneau (1857-1934), a composition student of Jules Massenet and one of the most important yet overlooked figures in turn-of-the-century French musical life. Bruneau’s desire for theatrical realism in his operas mirrored the literary aspirations of his friend Émile Zola. Conductor Darrell Ang and the Barcelona Read More …

Cleopatra’s needled?

Well, I think I might be if I knew that the three obelisks generally referred to as Cleopatra’s Needles, sited in London, Paris and New York, had nothing to do with me, perhaps the most famous queen of all time. Constructed a thousand years before Cleopatra’s lifetime, they at least stand as a popular memento Read More …

Long to rain over us

If, like me, you abhor rain and its associated displeasures, you may already be rejoicing in the 195th anniversary of a miraculous event that occurred on the date of this publication in 1823: Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), a Scottish chemist, sold his first raincoat. Layers of cloth sandwiched a rubber substance that kept the unwelcome intrusion Read More …

Podcast: 3 orchestral works by Franz Schreker (1878-1934)

The last decade in the life of Austrian composer Frank Schreker (1878-1934) proved a tragic conclusion to his hitherto highly successful career as a teacher, conductor, administrator and composer. In the mid-1920s critics were bearing down on him for failing to step in line with developing compositional styles; by the 1930s his work had come Read More …

Florent Schmitt. An introduction.

The French composer Florent Schmitt was born on 28 September, 1870; he died in 1958. Marking the anniversary of his birth, this week’s blog presents a small selection of his compositions. If you’re unfamiliar with his works, we hope our choice will tempt you to explore further this intriguing composer’s output. For now, we’ll let the Read More …

Podcast: Twelve prisms. One artist.

Raymond Bisha introduces composer-pianist-academic Tanya Ekanayaka through a new release of music for solo piano, composed and performed by herself. The twelve ‘prisms’ derive their stylistic inspiration from a variety of sources that include classical, contemporary, pop, rock, world and film music. The fusion of styles in each movement is rooted in the folk and Read More …

Haydn peek

One of the Naxos label’s distinguishing features is the sustained effort it applies to promoting the music of lesser-known composers, those who are undisputed craftsmen, but have been sadly overshadowed by greater names in the course of music history. Spare a thought, then, for such a composer who was born on the same date as Read More …

Podcast: The Lully effect. Going to the heart of the French Baroque orchestra.

Raymond Bisha introduces a new release of music by three Baroque titans: Lully, Telemann and Rameau. The latter two were hugely influenced by the music of Lully, who was powerfully positioned as the chief musician of King Louis XIV of France. Lully left a rich legacy of dramatic music scored for orchestra. It left an Read More …

Alma. Her life, loves, lieder.

Alma Margaretha Maria Schindler was born on the date of this post, 31 August, in the year 1879. On her death in 1964, aged 85, she had become Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel. Alternatively, Alma Mahler-Werfel. She might be summed up as a Vienna-born composer and socialite who vacuumed up men’s attentions and several wedding Read More …