Diary of an organ-playing nobody

Credit: Shutterstock R. J. STOVE reflects on life as an antipodean performer on the King of Instruments ‘“What?”, said [piano manufacturer] Herr Stein. “A man like you …  wants to play on an instrument which has no sweetness, no expression, no piano, no forte, but is always the same?” “That does not matter,” I replied.…

John Pritchard – master of sonorities

STUART MILLSON recalls an unjustly overlooked conductor The early 1980s was a vintage time for British orchestral music. Gennady Rozhdestvensky was halfway into his term (1978-1982) as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, a position which brought great kudos to the ensemble – Rozhdestvensky recording and performing Tchaikovsky ballet music, and venturing into the…

Dreaming of utopias past

Henry Wrong, first administrator of the Barbican Centre, overlooking the build. Credit: Barbican Archive Building Utopia: The Barbican Centre Nicholas Kenyon et al, Batsford, 2022, 288pp, fully illus., £40 ALEXANDER ADAMS acknowledges a modernist monument’s coming of age My first exposure to the Barbican Centre came obliquely. In the children’s science-fiction drama The Tripods, when…

Unfinished symphony in Oz

R. J. STOVE says reports of the death of Australian classical music education have been greatly exaggerated The most satisfying paid regular employment that I have ever experienced concluded on 11 November 2021. For a twelve-week course, I worked as a sessional tutor under the University of Sydney’s auspices. The tutorials – overarching title: ‘Music in…

England’s musical Shakespeare

Henry Purcell STUART MILLSON gives a glimpse into the life of Henry Purcell Henry Purcell (1659-95) is forever associated with the birth of opera (or masques) in England – works such as King Arthur and The Fairy Queen - the creation of semi-operatic scenic cantatas, like his music for The Tempest, and with expansive works…

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…

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…

Classical Kent

Peter Warlock STUART MILLSON searches for unjustly overlooked Kent composers A recent release on an innovative recording label – with the somewhat obscure title, Heracleitus – brings a mysterious figure from 20th century music in this country into view. The CD from the recording arm of the English Music Festival, an organisation dedicated to the…