Music

Ian Dickson on the many obsessions of Leonard Bernstein

Ian Dickson
28 March 2014

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
28 March 2014

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

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews the new biography of Alma Moodie

Sheila Fitzpatrick
17 January 2014

Alma Moodie’s story is remarkable, which makes it all the stranger that she has been so thoroughly forgotten. A frail child prodigy from central Queensland, she became Carl Flesch’s favourite pupil and a renowned concert violinist in Germany after World War I, friend and performer of most of the great figures of international contemporary music, from Max R ... More

Robert Gibson reviews a new study of Wagner

Robert Gibson
17 January 2014

After four days in the theatre, and just as many resting up between instalments, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen ends with a big tune. Like most of Wagner’s themes, this one has been given a name: the ‘Redemption through Love’ motif. The name was not the work of the composer but of one of his acolytes, Hans von Wolzogen, and in its orig ... More

Benjamin Millar reviews 'Marshall-Hall's Melbourne'

Benjamin Millar
31 October 2013

That George William Lewis Marshall-Hall (1862–1915) is far from a household name cannot simply reflect collective amnesia about Australian music of the era. While Nellie Melba and Percy Grainger remain widely celebrated, subversion of moral and religious orthodoxies left Marshall-Hall’s legacy significantly undervalued. These sixteen carefully sequenced es ... More

Jeffrey Tate on rediscovering Britten

Jeffrey Tate
26 May 2013

It would be a pity if this well-researched and nuanced biography of the greatest English composer of the second half of the twentieth century became known for the rather sensational medical revelations contained in the last chapter. Certainly, they gave me pause before I began reading the book.

Benjamin Britten (1913–76) was the towering ... More

Michael Morley reviews 'Freedom and the Arts'

Michael Morley
28 January 2013

In one of the most penetrating essays in this wide-ranging collection, the pianist and scholar Charles Rosen, while addressing the topic of ‘La Fontaine: The Ethical Power of Style’, notes in an aside: ‘What is original in Montaigne is the strange path he takes to arrive at the idea.’ It is an observation that might be equally well applied to the author of t ... More

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Vanda and Young' by John Tait and 'Behind the Rock and Beyond' by Jon Hayton and Leon Isackson

Jay Daniel Thompson
23 December 2011

 The history of Australian rock music is rich and eclectic. Vanda and Young: Inside Australia’s Hit Factory and Behind the Rock and Beyond: The Diary of a Rock Band, 1956–1980 provide two perspectives on the early years of rock music in this country. John Tait, owner of a second-hand record and bookshop in Melbourne and a self-confessed ... More

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