Category: Musicology

  • Swafford’s ‘Beethoven: Anguish and Tragedy’

    Thoughtful Christmas gift of Jan Swafford’s recent Beethoven biography made an interesting read; still in progress but it is a brisk read. A module on Beethoven was part of my first year of undergraduate studies (taught by David Wyn-Jones, author of The Life of Beethoven) and I recall his warning that anything about the composer […]

  • Let them make noise

    Jonathan Savage encourages us to ‘find time, in what are our undoubtedly busy lives, to read and reflect on the broad literature of music education’. His new book The Guided Reader to Teaching and Learning Music (Routledge 2013) is a collection of what he considers key writers that have inspired his pedagogy, and he rightly […]

  • Ravel’s Operas: Parody and Pastiche

    After watching the wonderful Glyndebourne Ravel Double Bill, streamed live on the internet, I remembered that as an undergraduate I had written an essay exploring the same two operas. I’ve included the essay below – it is strange reading something from nine years ago and spotting all the errors… but I will leave it intact. […]

  • Dispelling or furthering myths?

    ‘Myths are of great significance to those in the music business and music education. Our thinking is guided by: the relationships and dynamics between artists, writers, and producers; those who market, deliver, and distribute music, such as the record companies and publishers; the consumers and fans of music, who ultimately pay for it all; and […]

  • “The Famous Mr Bach”: Concert talk on Johann Sebastian Bach

    ~ Below is the text, slightly edited, of the concert talk I gave at North London Collegiate School for a Bach Concert on 8 February 2012 ~   ‘Johann Sebastian Bach belongs to a family that seems to have received a love and aptitude for music as a gift of nature to all its members in common’ […]

  • Are conductors necessary?

    Haydn’s last visit in 1794-95 [to Great Britain] had marked both the climax of London’s public concert life and the beginning of its decline. The founding of the Philharmonic Society in 1813 by a group of professional musicians was a rare flash of light in an otherwise sombre scene. Although it helped to make London […]

  • Charm is the word of 2012

    Catching up with the latest issue of the Monocle – February edition – and Andrew Tuck’s editorial draws attention to charm as the word for 2012: “Honesty, integrity, simplicity, durability, tactility are words that help all manner of firms thrive but oddly they never seem to make it past the door of a business school. […]

  • What was Innovative about Debussy’s Approach to Pianism?

    ~ I’m digging up previous things I’ve written: here is something from 2003 ~ ‘Debussy, like Chopin and Beethoven before him, created his own piano’[1], but before he could develop his own brand of pianism, however highly influenced, he was to master the styles of his predecessors. These predecessors were far reaching, ranging from Couperin […]

  • Can we speak of eroticism in purely musical terms?

    ~ Lawrence Dreyfus’ book ‘Wagner and the Erotic Impulse’ (Harvard University Press 2010) reminded me of attending the lecture series at the British Library given by Dreyfus upon which the book is based. Below is an essay I wrote after attending the series in 2004 ~ In this essay, ‘erotic’ will be understood as ‘pertaining […]