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 …

Musical discoveries P–T

Continuing our alphabetical spotlighting of less well known composers and their works, this week’s blog visits Italy, Poland and Guatemala and presents music from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. We start with the first of three Italians — Giovanni Benedetto Platti (pre 1692-1763). Although his presence as a young man is recorded in Venice Read More …

Musical discoveries K–O

Karłowicz, Lipiński, Magnard, Nepomuceno, Ohzawa. These are the composers who give us our next alphabetical tranche of unfamiliar names and neglected outputs that deserve a more frequent airing. Mieczysław Karłowicz (1876–1909) was born into a wealthy academic family at Wiszniew (in what is now Lithuania). He initially trained as a violinist but, after his arrival Read More …

Musical discoveries F–J

This is the second instalment in our alphabetical sifting through composers whose profiles are sadly more obscure than their quality compositions often deserve. Our selection focuses on surnames beginning respectively with F, G, H, I and J. The American composer Arthur Foote (1853-1937) studied at Harvard University where he was a student of the eminent Read More …

Musical discoveries A–E

This is the start of a 5-part series highlighting the distinctly engaging music of less well-known composers. I’ve selected their names alphabetically, and this edition’s tranche features composers with surnames beginning respectively with the letters A, B, C, D and E. First in the spotlight is the Georgian composer Vaja Azarashvili.  Born in 1936, he Read More …

Easter pegs

Places of Christian worship the world over will be marking the Easter Story at this time, no doubt with many performances of sacred music that vividly portray the central scenes of Jesus’ execution on the cross, his entombment, and his subsequent resurrection. I’ve chosen three pieces of music for this blog that reflect those three Read More …