music

Green Room: Michael Shmith interviews Brett Dean

Michael Shmith

Brett Dean, perhaps Australia's pre-eminent composer and certainly one of its most productive, is personable, witty, and engaging. He talks with heartfelt eloquence about ...

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Paul Kildea reviews 'Beethoven for a Later Age: The journey of a string quartet' by Edward Dusinberre

Paul Kildea

There is a moment early in the 'Heiliger Dankgesang' movement of Beethoven's Quartet Op. 132 when, without ceremony, an alien, courtly trio is plonked down ...

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Kate Hennessy reviews 'The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic' by Jessica Hopper

Kate Hennessy

Chicago-based music critic Jessica Hopper disdains introductory tedium. Were I to mimic her style, we'd be off and running by now, or grappling with a question ...

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Ian Dickson reviews 'On Sondheim: An Opinionated guide' by Ethan Mordden

Ian Dickson

Do we really need another slim volume on the great Stephen Sondheim? Along with innumerable reviews, essays, and articles, we have Craig Zadan's account of Sondheim's early career, Sondheim & Co (1974), Meryle Secrest's Stephen Sondheim: A Life (1998), and the promise of a definitive biography from the critic David Benedict. If that were not en ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Yodelling Boundary Riders' by Toby Martin

Doug Wallen

The history of country music in Australia is in many ways the history of the specialisation of a genre,' writes Toby Martin, explaining how the style evolved from copying the American singing-cowboy model of the 1930s to incorporating Australian bush ballads and staking a 'unique claim to national authenticity'.

Notions of authenticity are among the many lin ... More

Fiona Hile reviews 'Good Night and Good Riddance' by David Cavanagh

Fiona Hile

When Napoleon called England a nation of shopkeepers he claimed to have meant it as a compliment. Its grand resources were not constituted by extensive territories, natural resources, or a burgeoning population, but in the accumulation and dissemination of wares. In Portable Property: Victorian Culture on the Move (2008), John Plotz remarks that certain obj ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink' by Elvis Costello

Doug Wallen

'Oh, I just don't know where to begin,' opens 'Accidents Will Happen', one of the best pop songs of Elvis Costello's four-decade recording career. The English songwriter (born Declan MacManus) has no such trouble with his generously sized memoir, which details the creation of so much of his work. 'A lot of pop music has come out of people failing to copy their model ... More

Anwen Crawford reviews 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' by Carrie Brownstein

Anwen Crawford

Sleater-Kinney, an American rock trio, are closely associated with the cities of Olympia and Portland, in the Pacific Northwest. In the mid-1990s, when Sleater-Kinney formed, the region was home to a thriving, if somewhat puritan, independent music scene, one in which participants prided themselves on their distance – both geographic and cultural – from the main ... More

Michael Shmith reviews 'Sinatra' by James Kaplan

Michael Shmith

Just in time for the Frank Sinatra centenary – 12 December should be a gazetted public holiday – comes the thumping second part of James Kaplan's monumental biography. Taken together, Volume I – Frank: The Voice (2010, 786 pages) – and its behemoth successor, Sinatra: The Chairman (979 pages), comprise a formidable and scrupulously detailed ... More

Michael Halliwell reviews 'Charles Mackerras' edited by Nigel Simeone and John Tyrrell

Michael Halliwell

Ask any opera singer from the last fifty or more years who their favourite conductor is, and a substantial number would plumb for Charles Mackerras if they had enjoyed the privilege of working with him. There were always more flamboyant conductors – Karajan, Bernstein, Abbado, and others spring to mind – and certainly many enjoyed more immediate name recognition ... More

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