Podcast: Beethoven’s piano solo version of his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus

The Creatures of Prometheus was Beethoven’s only full-length ballet score. The work premiered in March 1801 and the composer’s own version for piano solo was published later the same year. The work relates the story from Greek mythology of Prometheus, a lofty spirit who endeavoured to lift human beings from a state of ignorance into Read More …

Mix of the Month, June

Working with a small selection from this month’s new releases, I’ve forged a theme of the orchestra as a scene-setter, story-teller, support artist, symphonic duettist, and stand-alone protagonist. Many orchestral concerts begin with a warm-up act, a few minutes of attention-grabbing music in which the orchestra flexes its facility for colour and impact. Such concert Read More …

Amplified by the power of zero.

Mozart is reckoned to have posited that silence, paradoxically, is the most powerful element in music. And I once read that, while there’s one particular zone of your brain that is stimulated when an object starts to produce a sound, it’s a different part that reacts when a clock, for example, ceases its tick-tock and Read More …

A point in time: December 8

An article in The Independent caught my eye a couple of months ago; maybe yours, too. A ghostly, unfinished, non-miniature portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots had been discovered layered beneath a later painting. The article about this colourfully tragic monarch gave a detailed account of both the queen and her unfinished likeness. I then Read More …

Can I quote you?

Borrowing other people’s music and weaving it into your own composition is far from uncommon. We’re not talking plagiarism here i.e. passing other people’s music off as your own, which seems to happen far more regularly in pop music than in classical. A composer might borrow from himself, which explains why you might get a Read More …

Scoring ten

Most people know about the curse of the ninth, but if you don’t, here’s a quick explanation. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Choral (8.550181) laid down a few benchmarks. Its influence was felt most recently, perhaps, during the dawn of the age of the compact disc. Consideration had to be given to how many minutes of music Read More …