Classical music

Can everyone please shut up about Maria Callas?

4 November 2023 9:00 am

Rupert Christiansen on the cult of Callas

The miracle of watching a great string quartet perform

28 October 2023 9:00 am

Joseph Haydn, it’s generally agreed, invented the string quartet. And having done so, he re-invented it: again and again. Take…

A Radio 3 doc that contains some of the best insults I’ve ever heard

28 October 2023 9:00 am

A recent Sunday Feature on Radio 3 contained some of the best insults I have ever heard. Contributors to the…

Every crumb of Kurtag’s music is a feast: Endgame, at the Proms, reviewed

9 September 2023 9:00 am

The fun starts early in Beckett’s Endgame. Within minutes of opening his mouth, blind bully Hamm decides to starve his…

A euphoric meat-and-two-veg programme: Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich/Paavo Jarvi, at the Proms, reviewed

9 September 2023 9:00 am

We used to call it a ‘meat and two veg’ programme, back in my concert planning days: the reliable set…

Doesn’t get better than this: The Threepenny Opera, at Edinburgh International Festival, reviewed

2 September 2023 9:00 am

It’s the Edinburgh International Festival, and Barrie’s back in town. Once, Edinburgh was pretty much the only place that you…

Fast cars, minimalist design and en suite bathrooms: the real Rachmaninoff

2 September 2023 9:00 am

Fast cars, minimalist design and en suite bathrooms: Richard Bratby visits the composer’s starkly modern Swiss home

A brilliantly cruel Cosi and punkish Petrushka but the Brits disappoint: Festival d’Aix-en-Provence reviewed

26 August 2023 9:00 am

Aix is an odd place. It should be charming, with its dishevelled squares, Busby Berkeley-esque fountains, pretty ochres and pinks.…

Imagine a school concert hosted by Bela Lugosi: Budapest Festival Orchestra and Ivan Fischer, at the Proms, reviewed

19 August 2023 9:00 am

‘Audience Choice’ was the promise at the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Sunday matinee Prom, and come on – who could resist…

In defence of the Arts Council

29 July 2023 11:24 pm

I once knew a monster who said she could not read Proust because there were no figures in Proust with…

The West has much to learn from Hungarian culture

29 July 2023 9:00 am

Hungarian culture is living through a golden age, says Igor Toronyi-Lalic, and the West has much to learn from it

The changing face of the BBC Proms

15 July 2023 9:00 am

The changing face of the BBC Proms

The greatest female composer you’ve never heard of

10 June 2023 9:00 am

One of the most intriguing piano concertos of the late 19th century is unknown to the public – and no…

Wikipedia does more justice to this fascinating story than this film: Chevalier reviewed

10 June 2023 9:00 am

Chevalier is a biopic of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, whom you’ve probably never heard of, as I hadn’t. He…

How Ukrainians are making the lives of even anti-Putin Russian artists impossible

3 June 2023 9:00 am

Zoe Strimpel talks to the anti-Putin Russian artists who have been cancelled since the invasion of Ukraine

Florid flummery: ETO’s Il viaggio a Reims reviewed

20 May 2023 9:00 am

Lightning sometimes strikes twice. English Touring Opera hit topical gold last spring when, wholly by coincidence, they found themselves touring…

The coronation music was – mostly – a triumph

13 May 2023 9:00 am

Sir Hubert Parry was upgraded from knight bachelor to baronet by King Edward VII in 1902, and my goodness he…

A miniature rite of a very English spring: a Vaughan Williams rediscovery in Liverpool

22 October 2022 9:00 am

Imagine a folk dance without music. Actually, you don’t have to: poke about on YouTube and you’ll find footage from…

Apocalypse chic: Autechre, Last Days and Southbank's Xenakis day reviewed

15 October 2022 9:00 am

It was so dark, my friend noted, you could have had sex or done a Hitler salute. No stage lights,…

Grey, grey and more grey: Aida, at the Royal Opera House, reviewed

8 October 2022 9:00 am

Grey. More grey. So very, very grey. That’s the main visual impression left by Robert Carsen’s new production of Verdi’s…

Holds out huge promise for future seasons: If Opera's La Rondine reviewed

10 September 2022 9:00 am

One swallow might not make a summer, but it certainly helps rounds the season off. ‘Perhaps, like the swallow, you…

The joy of Franck’s Symphony in D Minor: BBCSO/Gabel, at the Proms, reviewed

3 September 2022 9:00 am

In the Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes, a Broadway hoofer is forced to work at a community college,…

Apocalyptic minimalism: Carl Orff's final opera, at Salzburg Festival, reviewed

3 September 2022 9:00 am

‘Germany’s greatest artistic asset, its music, is in danger,’ warned The Spectator in June 1937. Reporting from the leading new-music…