December’s in the ayre.

Although city centres and shopping complexes have for some weeks been ringing with the sound of musical Christmas jollies, this blog presents the reverse side of the coin, with a small selection of works that reflect a less traditional side of the month of December. I’m going to start with what is undoubtedly one of Read More …

A Frame of Gnomes

The nearest I’ve ever got to a gnome is by eyeing its dictionary definition: In folklore, one of a species of diminutive beings, usually described as shriveled little old men, that inhabit the interior of the earth and act as guardians of its treasures; troll. The plastic garden gnome subspecies doesn’t get a mention, not Read More …

Earworms for bookworms.

I recently registered with my local library and duly received a plastic card that gives me borrowing rights. Covering the front of the card is a quotation: “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of a library.” Albert Einstein I wondered how many ‘books/livres/Bücher’ I could locate in my own Read More …

Gershwin whingers.

I’ve always found it intriguing how a quality composition is seemingly indestructible when it’s pressed into new clothes by skilled arrangers. (Whingers, by the way, is simply an anagram of Gershwin to reflect that notion). My first taste of the industry as a youngster was on hearing the Swingle Singers elevate J. S. Bach’s instrumental Read More …

Day in, day out.

If there’s a man for all seasons, is there a music for all days? The answer seems to be ‘yes’, so off we go. Our wake-up call comes from one of Naxos’ major artists, conductor Marin Alsop, who puts us In a Monday Mood with my first item. It’s by George Bogatko, who describes the Read More …

High scores.

It might seem improbable that something as solid and stolid as a mountain could be inspirational to composers. A quick flick through the catalogue, however, throws up numerous examples of these towering formations reflected in heights of creativity by composers the world over. I’ve chosen six for this blog: a couple of them you might Read More …

F sharp major, of all keys!

Western composers uniformly embraced the system of tonality for some two centuries, until it found itself challenged by a radical alternative system called atonality around the year 1900. The more abrasive sounds thrown up by atonality certainly gave the status quo a run for its money, while never actually totally replacing it. Tonality allowed composers Read More …

Musical discoveries U–Z

We reach the final instalment of our alphabetical collection of composers whose music has been somewhat neglected as the years have rolled by, with this blog casting a spotlight on Galina Ustvolskaya, Francesco Maria Veracini, Peter von Winter, Iannis Xenakis, Isang Yun and Joaquim Zamacóis. Galina Ustvolskaya was born in Petrograd in 1919, educated in Read More …