The decadence and darkness of Symbolism

Caresses, by Fernand Khnopff Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism Ralph Geis (ed.), Hirmer, 2020, hardback, 336pp, fully illus., €45/£42/$50 ALEXANDER ADAMS immerses himself in disquiet and dreamscapes Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie exhibition of Belgian Symbolists, Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism, closed last month. As few were able to attend, for obvious reasons, this article…

Cornysh, Campion, Dowland: England’s sweet songsmiths

STUART MILLSON dives into old English ‘ayrs’ There is a persistent idea that English music only really got going with Parry and Elgar, but four centuries earlier William Cornysh, Thomas Campion and John Dowland had possessed national and European reputations. William Cornysh was one of England’s leading Tudor composers, gaining the attention and then patronage…

Campus tragedy

MICHAEL WILDING surveys the sorry state of Australia’s universities The systematic degradation of the universities has now been continuing for 40 years. It began at the end of the 1970s, with the election of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA. Australia dutifully followed suit. The policies were a mixture of reprisals…

The resurrection and evolution of a metalhead

Jacek Karczmarczyk, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons WILLIAM STROOCK reforges an old musical allegiance In 1987 this scrawny, disgruntled 14-year-old became a metalhead. It’s an old story. I hated school and life and everything, really. Metal was the best available outlet for expressing that. I stamped my feet and pumped my fist to…

After the headrush

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984 Simon Reynolds, Faber & Faber, 2019, 608 pages MARK GULLICK savours an appreciation of an excitingly original music scene Punk rock in both its British and American incarnations is probably as thoroughly documented as any musical genre. Punk seen as a transition, stage or catalyst, however, and…

50 years of Sticky Fingers

CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD recalls the shambolic genesis of the Stones’ masterpiece At about eleven on the Monday morning of 9 March 1970, a somewhat distressed-looking olive green, midsized BMC lorry of the kind typically used to haul heavy goods around the country, crunched up the gravel driveway of a sprawling manor house located just outside the…

Orpheans of the fringes

STUART MILLSON celebrates Celtic composers We tend to think of British music, and the landscape of the British repertoire, as belonging to English composers such as Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten. But it is not just bucolic, visionary southern English landscapes that have inspired great music. The Welsh landscape is just as much a place…

From iconoclasm to ruins

All paintings by the author ALEXANDER ADAMS surveys the story of deliberate destruction We are familiar with the folly and – from the Baroque period onward – the purposefully constructed ruin used to enhance the pathos of a place, most especially a view of a country estate. This would be a view that could be…