A centenary’s outs and ins [2]

Picking up from our last blog that featured musicians who died a century ago, in the year 1921, we consider a selection of singers, instrumentalists and composers who were born in that year. My first pick is the virtuoso British horn player Dennis Brain (1921-1957), who was tragically killed in a car accident when he Read More …

A centenary’s outs and ins

Following the 2020 global Beethoven birthday bash, I’m going to run the risk of anniversary fatigue by dwelling on what comes in its wake: 2021 and a collection of milestones marking the centenaries of either the births or deaths of a number of composers and artists. In true Naxos style, the survey will include both Read More …

Cherry Christmas

One Christmas carol that has always been on my list of favourites is the Cherry Tree Carol. Apart from the attractive melody, the words give a glimpse of the real human relationship between Joseph and Mary, the former harbouring a touch of tetchiness over the miracle of her immaculate conception. As the couple make their Read More …

Scene-shifting

It will soon be the season of Christmas carol services, managed somehow or other this year by technical wizardry in defiance of Covid-19. It set me thinking not only about the traditional carols I grew up with, but also the plentiful variety of alternative music that has been written over the centuries to mark the Read More …

Premieres with problems

This week we take a look at four works that were all premiered on 20 November, the same date as the posting of this blog, respectively in 1889, 1911, 1945 and 1964. Usually an occasion of great positivity, the first performances of these particular compositions all carried some heavy baggage. I refer to Mahler’s First Read More …

Dancing to the music of their time.

During the Baroque period (c. 1600-1750) suites of instrumental music with each movement based on the characteristics of a particular dance were popular. The considerations for composers would include: how many beats in a bar? what speed? any notable rhythms? — elements that gave each dance its individual flavour. It’s difficult to imagine more recent Read More …

Hearing it in black and white.

A bifocal blog this week that steers from a lust for colour in music to a quick dig in the catalogue for works presented on a monochrome platform, either black or white. My first pick is Peter Maxwell Davies’ Black Pentecost, the catalyst for which was provided by the threat of uranium mining in the Read More …

Closing comments. Another quick quiz.

Here are the final bars of 15 well-known works. Can you name the composer and the title of the work? Scroll down the page to check your answers. Question 1   Question 2   Question 3   Question 4   Question 5   Question 6   Question 7   Question 8   Question 9   Read More …

First impressions. A quick quiz.

Here are the openings of 20 well-known works, or of movements within those works. Can you name the composer and the title of the work? Scroll down the page to check your answers. Question 1   Question 2   Question 3   Question 4   Question 5   Question 6   Question 7   Question Read More …