Robert Philip— Of all the composers from continental Europe who settled in England over the centuries, Handel was the one who achieved the greatest celebrity, becoming established as a quintessentially ‘English’ composer. He first became famous as a writer of operas in Germany and Italy, then moved to England in
Laura Tunbridge— In 1840, the Berlin publisher Heinrich Schlesinger published a short piano piece as the Dernière pensée musicale de Louis van Beethoven. It was not, in fact, Beethoven’s “last musical thought”; it was not even the first time it had been published. The same music had appeared in a supplement
Charles Rosen— Proust’s grandmother was a woman of extremely modest, unpretentious demeanour, who never ventured to contradict anyone’s literary judgement: But on matters of which the rules and principles had been taught her by her mother, on the way to cook certain dishes, to play the sonatas of Beethoven, and to
It will soon be the 100th anniversary of the famous first performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring in Paris, the orchestral-ballet piece that incited a near riot in the crowds during its premiere. Upon seeing the unusual costumes, choreography and hearing the avante-garde music, the audience hissed and
This month, the music world celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of its most intriguing, mysterious, and undeniably talented figures, Robert Schumann. Yet for many, Schumann’s legacy of greatness is clouded by the oft-propagated legends of his crippling depression and mania. For generations, any interest in
John Cage’s silent masterpiece 4’33” is one of classical music’s most controversial compositions. In his new book, No Such Thing as Silence, musician and critic Kyle Gann not only explains why the piece incited such a stir but also why it is still best experienced live. “Cage didn’t believe in
Opera singers might seem out of place in a era of American Idol and MP3s; however, the tenor’s voice is as much a mainstay of classical music as it is of modern rock, country, and R&B. In his new book The Tenor, John Potter maps the history of the tenor.