Music

The early death of Lili Boulanger is the most grievous of all among composers

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Total immersion weekends can prove tricky. The established masters don’t need them, while lesser-known figures often turn out to be…

Why did Parry’s Judith vanish?

13 April 2019 9:00 am

‘When a man takes it upon himself to write an oratorio — perhaps the most gratuitous exploit open to a…

Aurora Orchestra’s Brexit concert nearly turned me into a Leaver

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Back when the UK was assumed to be leaving the European Union on 29 March, the Aurora Orchestra was invited…

The fall of Daniel Barenboim

23 March 2019 9:00 am

A few years ago, I hooked up with a BBC team in Berlin to record a programme with Daniel Barenboim.…

Sarah Tynan, Nicholas Lester and Andrew Shore in ENO's new Merry Widow. Photo: Clive Barda

Cringingly vulgar, brainless and lacking heart: ENO’s Merry Widow reviewed

9 March 2019 9:00 am

Garrick Ohlsson is one of the finest pianists of his generation. Why, then, was the Wigmore Hall not much more…

Opera North’s Rite of Spring shows the advantages of confining the music to the pit

2 March 2019 9:00 am

It was Stravinsky himself who suggested that, in order to preserve its difficulty, the opening bassoon solo of The Rite…

How good really was Berlioz?

23 February 2019 9:00 am

Hector Berlioz was born on 11 December 1803 in rural Isère. ‘During the months which preceded my birth my mother…

Christian Gerhaher and Gerold Huber at the piano in their 2016 Wigmore Hall recital. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski / Redferns

A Winterreise that included a mistake of genius

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of approach to performing Schubert’s Winterreise, though sometimes there’s doubt or dispute about which…

A musical Sarah Kane: composer Rebecca Saunders. Photo: IRCAM Manifeste

The brutish brilliance of Rebecca Saunders

26 January 2019 9:00 am

If you take awards seriously (which of course you shouldn’t) you could argue that Rebecca Saunders is now Britain’s most…

Philipp Fürhofer's handsome and often ingenious designs for the Royal Opera's overcomplicated new production of The Queen of Spades. Photo: ROH 2018 / Catherine Ashmore

Never quite pivots from thesis to drama: Royal Opera’s Queen of Spades reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

We increasingly accept the collision between life and art. Whether we’re puzzling over the real identity of Elena Ferrante, choosing…

King's College Choir rehearsing for the Christmas Eve 'A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols'. Photo credit: Geoff Robinson Photography / REX / Shutterstock

High and mighty

15 December 2018 9:00 am

In this 200th anniversary of the birth of Mrs C.F. Alexander, author of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, all of…

Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica performing performing Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Concertino for Violin and Strings in 2014. Photo: Hiroyuki Ito/ Getty Images

As a symphonist, Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a master: Weinberg Weekend reviewed

1 December 2018 9:00 am

It’s a strange compliment to pay a composer — that the most profound impression their music makes is of an…

RLPO and the NDR Radiophilharmonie performing Britten's War Requiem in Liverpool Cathedral. Photo: Liverpool Philharmonic / Mark McNulty

Britten’s War Requiem almost sounded like a masterpiece – but it’s isn’t, is it?

17 November 2018 9:00 am

‘What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?’ We’ve heard a lot, lately, of the knell that tolls through the…

Wilhelm Furtwängler shaking hands with Hitler after a concert in 1939. Photo: Ullstein Bild/ Getty Images

The truth about Wilhelm Furtwängler

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The morning after the first night of Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides in May 1995, I received a call from Otto…

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO at the Barbican

Rattle’s recapitulation: LSO/Simon Rattle at Barbican reviewed

22 September 2018 9:00 am

A pregnant silence, a peaty belch from the tuba, and the scrape of brass on brass as gears lock into…

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013

As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

22 September 2018 9:00 am

No one any longer denies the immense significance of Wagner’s musical-dramatic achievement, even if they find it repellent. But his…

‘Catholic music is often excruciating – I call it “Joan Baez meets Hildegard of Bingen in a 1970s cocktail lounge.”’ Baez: Pierre Andrieu /AFP/Getty Images Bach: Rischgitz/Getty Images

J.S. Bach v. Joan Baez

15 September 2018 9:00 am

I was at a funeral the other day at which the music was so inspiring that I struggled to feel…

Chorus of approval: the ENO chorus gives it the full Broadway, triple threats to a man, in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Photo: Genevieve Girling)

Often baffling but ultimately entertaining: Britten’s Paul Bunyan reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I feel I have learned lots about what not to write for the theatre…’ There’s a prevailing idea that the…

Kirill Petrenko conducting the Berlin Philharmonic at the 2018 Proms. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou

The gentle side of Bruckner

8 September 2018 9:00 am

The lady behind me on Kensington Gore clearly felt that she owed her friend an apology: ‘It’s Bruckner. I don’t…

‘I’m unusually disaster-prone’

The man who’s spent 40 years trying (and failing) to become a pop star

8 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I could still be a pop star,’ says Lawrence, sitting on a footstool in his council flat, high up in…

Jozsefs Lendvai and Lendvay with Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra at the Proms. Image: BBC/Chris Christodoulos

The Budapest Festival Orchestra make all other orchestra look routine and oafish

1 September 2018 9:00 am

Looney Tunes was always at its best when soundtracked by a Hungarian gypsy dance. (Watch ‘Pigs in a Polka’ if…

A Beggar’s Opera that beggars belief in Edinburgh

25 August 2018 9:00 am

Robert Carsen’s new updating of The Beggar’s Opera is a coke-snorting, trash-talking, breakdancing, palm-greasing, skirt-hiking, rule-breaking affair — and every…

Currentzis’s Beethoven asked us to listen with our bodies rather than our minds

4 August 2018 9:00 am

Some conductors conduct from the fingers — think of Gergiev’s convulsive gestures, flickering up and down the keyboard of an…

Classical music is awash with virtue-signalling

7 July 2018 9:00 am

All my life I’ve wanted to compose music, and now I’ve done it. I’ve written a sonata for solo flute…

Pianist Clifford Curzon, composer Sir Arthur Bliss and musicologist Hans Keller at the very first Leeds International Piano Contest. Photo: Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

You vote for my pupil, I’ll vote for yours – the truth about music competitions

23 June 2018 9:00 am

A young Korean, 22 years old, won the Dublin International Piano Competition last month. Nothing unusual about that. Koreans and…