Music

My Schubert cruise was a transport of delight

17 October 2015 8:00 am

‘Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions to all musicians, appear and inspire…’ Auden wrote his words for the young Benjamin Britten,…

It may have a meagre script and no plot but Farinelli and the King is still a major work of art

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Philippe V was a Bourbon prince who secured the throne of Spain using his family connections. Claire van Kampen is…

Why I’m stepping down after 28 years as The Spectator pop critic

10 October 2015 9:00 am

This is my 345th and last monthly column about pop music for The Spectator. I believe I might be the…

From top left: Lucian Freud, Rudolf Bing, Stefan Zweig, Walter Gropius, Rudolf Laban, Max Born, Kurt Schwitters, Friedrich Hayek, Fritz Busch, Frank Auerbach, Emeric Pressburger, Oskar Kokoschka

German refugees transformed British cultural life - but at a price

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Next week Frank Auerbach will be honoured by the British art establishment with a one-man show at Tate Britain. It’s…

Just what Tom Watson needs: a Bananarama tribute band

26 September 2015 8:00 am

Available for parties Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said that leaving his party to join the Liberal Democrats would be…

The truth about me, David Cameron, drugs and Supertramp

26 September 2015 8:00 am

This week I woke up shocked to find myself on the front page of the Daily Mail. Apparently I’m the…

In praise of cheap box sets

12 September 2015 9:00 am

This column does like a bargain. Indeed, it not only esteems and relishes a bargain, it has also worked long…

Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Photo: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Four of the best albums to write books by

8 August 2015 9:00 am

I have been writing a book this summer, in the usual mad tearing hurry. (Much as I admire those who…

Helen Vendler is full of condescending waffle (and not just when she’s attacking me)

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Is it possible to tell a good poem from a bad one? To put the question another way: are there…

Compiling my greatest hits (and my Twitter trolls')

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Compilation schompilation. Having been in music for as long as I have you would think I had a good idea…

The Proms is taxpayers’ money well spent: it’s a national asset like fish and chips and the royal baby

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Make no mistake: the Proms, whose 2015 season was launched last night, would not, could not, exist without the BBC,…

Beat generation: the indispensable Ringo Starr in 1964

Ringo's no joke. He was a genius and the Beatles were lucky to have him

4 July 2015 9:00 am

‘He was the most influential Beatle,’ Yoko Ono recently claimed. When Paul and John first spotted him out in Hamburg,…

Michael Eavis has brought more joy to more people than almost any Englishman alive

4 July 2015 9:00 am

I had meant to write a dispassionate account of this year’s Glastonbury, really I had. But I’m afraid my plans…

Glastonbury Festival, where the absence of authority results in order, not anarchy

Steve Hilton's model for policy reform: Glastonbury (yes, really)

20 June 2015 9:00 am

There is a phrase that has been fashionable for years in wonkland — places like the upper echelons of the…

The real contest at Eurovision: worst lyric

30 May 2015 9:00 am

Like a reluctantly remembered nightmare, last week’s Eurovision Song Contest already seems very distant. But, in the manner of the…

The Heckler: why does John Eliot Gardiner have to be so rude?

2 May 2015 9:00 am

Sir John Eliot Gardiner is talented almost beyond measure. His Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and stupidly named Orchestre Révolutionnaire…

Campaign songs and the singers who wish they weren’t

18 April 2015 9:00 am

Out of tune The use of a song, ‘Love Natural’ by the Crystal Fighters, at the launch of the Labour…

Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

18 April 2015 9:00 am

Daniel Barenboim is back in town: the South Bank is mounting a ‘Barenboim Project 2015’ in which he’s playing the…

Plumber, taxi driver, mystic, musician — the many facets of Philip Glass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Philip Glass is by now surely up there in the Telemann class among the most prolific composers in history. There…

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

11 April 2015 9:00 am

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely…

Even a perfect opera such as Don Giovanni improves with a good red

4 April 2015 9:00 am

End of season is always bittersweet, the melting snows a bit like autumn leaves. But the days are longer and…

A censored hymn to motorway misery

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Service record The government is to form a design panel to improve motorway services stations. These have not always charmed…

James Blunt’s sense of entitlement is so palpable you could wear it as a hat

7 February 2015 9:00 am

Only a fool would mess with James Blunt. As his Twitter followers know, he has a sharp wit, and, as…

Maybe it’s a problem when all artists are like James Blunt. But it’s worse when Labour MPs are like Chris Bryant

24 January 2015 9:00 am

What should we do with James Blunt? This is what I have been asking myself. And I am not looking…

The curious language of Christmas carols

13 December 2014 9:00 am

I could never understand as a little girl why we sang: ‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.’…