Classical music

Portrait of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic – Britain's oldest and ballsiest orchestra

11 July 2020 9:00 am

Richard Bratby on Britain’s oldest and ballsiest orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, which has taken on everyone from gang leaders to Derek Hatton

After weeks of silence, Royal Opera reopened with a whimper

20 June 2020 9:00 am

It was the fourth time, or maybe the fifth, that I found myself reaching for the tissues that I began…

The musical event of the year: Wigmore Hall BBC Radio 3 Special Broadcasts reviewed

13 June 2020 9:00 am

Remember when 2020 was going to be Beethoven year? There were going to be cycles and festivals, recordings and reappraisals;…

Another drama about how women are great and men are rubbish: C4's Philharmonia reviewed

6 June 2020 9:00 am

On the face of it, a French-language drama about a Parisian symphony orchestra mightn’t sound like the most action-packed of…

I'm still not wholly convinced by Kirill Petrenko: Berlin Phil's Digital Concert Hall reviewed

30 May 2020 9:00 am

At the start of Elgar’s Second Symphony the full orchestra hovers, poised. It pulls back; and then, like a dam…

Swanky, stale and sullen, the summer music festival has had its day

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The summer music festival has had its day, says Norman Lebrecht

Drunk singers, Ravel on film and prime Viennese operetta: the addictive joys of classical YouTube

23 May 2020 9:00 am

The full addictive potential of classical YouTube needs to be experienced to be understood. And let’s be honest, there are…

The best recordings of the greatest symphony

16 May 2020 9:00 am

I am daunted. Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony is a work that I regard with love, awe and even anxiety. I always…

Michael Tanner remembers the greatest musical experience of his life

25 April 2020 9:00 am

No surprise: the greatest musical experience of my life was Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1962. I thought at the time…

The marvel of Mozart’s letters

18 April 2020 9:00 am

It’s 1771, you’re in Milan, and your 14-year-old genius son has just premièred his new opera. How do you reward…

The best recordings of my favourite Passion

11 April 2020 9:00 am

In the autumn of 1632, a man called Kaspar Schisler returned home to the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau. He…

Why do Radio 3 presenters adopt the tone stupid adults use when addressing children?

11 April 2020 9:00 am

Anyone who has listened regularly to Radio 3 over the decades — not to mention the Third Programme, which Radio…

The joy of Haydn's string quartets – here are the best recordings

4 April 2020 9:00 am

As Joseph Haydn was getting out of bed on the morning of 10 May 1809, a cannonball landed in his…

Bleak humour, resourcefulness and wit: Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Quarantine Soirées reviewed

28 March 2020 9:00 am

There’s a certain merit in bluntness. ‘Quarantine Soirées’ was what the Budapest Festival Orchestra called its response to the crisis,…

Bigamists, lunatics and adventurers: the raucous world of 19th century British music

21 March 2020 9:00 am

The world of 19th-century British music was raucous, but are there any masterpieces waiting to be rediscovered? wonders Richard Bratby

If your instinct is to undermine Beethoven, you’re directing the wrong opera: Fidelio reviewed

7 March 2020 9:00 am

‘People may say I can’t sing,’ said the soprano Florence Foster Jenkins, ‘but no one can ever say I didn’t…

Inspired programming and a proper celebration: Barbican's Beethoven Weekender reviewed

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Beethoven wears a feather boa and pink shades. He wrangles an electric guitar. A red lightning flash streaks across that…

The joy of Radio 3’s Building a Library

1 February 2020 9:00 am

So, you’ve fallen in love with a piece of classical music and you want to buy a recording. The problems…

Warmth, energy and gripping momentum: Stephen Hough’s Wigmore Hall residency reviewed

18 January 2020 9:00 am

In the summer of 1878 Johannes Brahms finally succeeded in growing a beard. It was his third attempt. ‘Prepare your…

Beethoven wasn’t just history’s greatest composer but also one of its greatest human beings

11 January 2020 9:00 am

Ludwig van Beethoven isn’t just my favourite composer: he’s my household god. There’s a bust of him on my mantelpiece.…

Beer, sweat and jockstraps: the real history of the CBSO

21 December 2019 9:00 am

In childhood, the theme tune to The Box of Delights was the sound of Christmas. The melody was ‘The First…

Why 2019 has been a wonderful year

21 December 2019 9:00 am

I received my Christmas present earlier than usual. It was a message sent via The Spectator from a gentleman who…

Sadistic and repellent and thrilling: Mascagni’s Iris reviewed

7 December 2019 9:00 am

If you’ve ever felt that poor Madama Butterfly had a bit of a raw deal, then you really, really don’t…

Handsome and revivable but I wasn’t moved: Royal Opera’s Death in Venice reviewed

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Premièred within two years of each other, Luchino Visconti’s film and Benjamin Britten’s opera Death in Venice both take Thomas…

Meet the unrivalled Sun King of early music, William Christie

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It’s morning in the garden of William Christie, and he’s talking about home improvements. ‘I planted three pines up there…