music

Peter Kenneally reviews 'Blue Note' by Richard Havers

Peter Kenneally

A four hundred-page Thames & Hudson hardback stuffed with photographs? A coffee table book, you might think. And you would be right, since this is a history of the most famous label in jazz – with no discography. But it is gorgeous, full of great images, the design matches the label’s style, and the book tells Blue Note’s history well for the lay ja ... More

Ben Brooker reviews 'Reflections on Gallipoli'

Ben Brooker

It is, of course, one hundred years since almost 9,000 Australians died on a small Turkish peninsula during a campaign that, despite its localised failure as a military operation and futility in influencing the overall course of the war, has been unalterably woven into the fabric of our national mythos. Commemorative presentations are frequent. Orchestras, televisio ... More

Valerie Lawson reviews 'Beyond Black and White' by Roger Woodward

Valerie Lawson

There are two Roger Woodwards in Beyond Black and White. One vividly brings to life his early years as an imaginative and highly talented boy whose future was determined when, at the age of seven, he first heard the music of Bach. The second presents the adult Woodward, whose memoirs relate in punctilious detail his fifty-year career as an acclaimed pianist.< ... More

Andrew McMillen reviews 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' by Bob Stanley

Andrew McMillen

It is difficult to imagine a more satisfying long-form narrative about pop music than Yeah Yeah Yeah. Although the book runs to almost 800 pages, British author Bob Stanley writes with such authority and infectious passion that the momentum never skips a beat. Beginning with the first British hit parade and the popularisation of the electric guitar, Stanley t ... More

Dina Ross reviews 'A Pianist’s A–Z'

Dina Ross

The concert pianist Alfred Brendel is one of the leading twentieth-century interpreters of music, with a special interest in the German repertoire. When he retired in 2008 after six decades of performing, he did so not through loss of stamina, but because of crippling arthritis in his hands. Brendel continues, at eighty-three, to teach, lecture, and write. (His poet ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Elvis has left the building'

Doug Wallen

Usually the subject’s death signals the end of a biography, but for Dylan Jones it is the starting point. Three decades after his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has proven even more ubiquitous, and lucrative, than he was in life. When he died – with the official cause listed as heart failure, but a vast cocktail of drugs playing an undeniable role – his manager, ... More

Michael Morley reviews two books on Hitler’s impact on film and music

Michael Morley

For all their differences of subject matter and approach (not to mention style), both of these studies can be seen as belonging to the category of what might be termed archaeological history. That is, they are concerned with retrieving and bringing to the surface a gallery of characters and set of important stories and connections which have been either suppressed o ... More

Michael Shmith: A conductor's Bach pilgrimage

Michael Shmith

I was a part-time pilgrim on John Eliot Gardiner’s extraordinary year-long journey, from Christmas 1999 to New Year’s Eve 2000, when he took Johann Sebastian Bach on the road. Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, with his fifteen-member Monteverdi Choir and the twenty instrumentalists of the English Baroque Soloists, performed in Britain, Europe, and the United ... More

Ian Dickson on the many obsessions of Leonard Bernstein

Ian Dickson

There once was a boy named Lenny
Whose talents were varied and many
So many that he was inclined
Never to make up his mind
In fact he was so gifted
He never felt uplifted
Just undefined.
Poor Lenny – ten gifts too many
The curse of being versatile.
To show how bad ... More

Time Byrne reviews 'The Art of Nick Cave'

Tim Byrne

Lecturing in Vienna in 1999, Nick Cave outlined his theory on the nature of the love song. ‘Within the fabric of the Love Song … one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.’ Unless pain and longing simmer beneath the surface of the music, it isn’t a love song at all. What Lorca referred to as ‘duende’ and Cave himself calls ‘an inexplicable sadness’ at the h ... More

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