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Recently In The Blogs

Being a monthly survey of some of the interesting articles in the classical music blogosphere ...

For a comprehensive link list of classical music blogs, see Chris Foley's page and for a list of the blogs referred to in this series of articles, click here.

As you can gather by the last date, this survey is not currently being updated. I do hope at some point in the future to have enough time to retuen to the task, but I will add worthwhile blogs to the link list as I find them.

July 23, 2009
Opera North
Opera North is based in the north – not surprisingly – of England in the Yorkshire city of Leeds. It has been running a blog written by performers, crew and office since April this year, Among the posts have been a number providing a behind-the-scenes view of the musical Paradise Moscow, derived from the Shostakovich opera, Cheryomushki. We are informed that from this week on, the blog will feature the company’s forthcoming production of Così fan tutte.

From Beyond the Stave, the blog of the publishers Boydell and Brewer, has a number of interesting posts, including two about the relatively little-known English composer, Erik Chisholm, the subject of a new book. One – The Extraordinary Mr Chisholm – has an extract from the book, and the other – Looking for Erik - is written by the book’s author, John Purser.

At Planet Hugill, Robert has been to Prom 4, and also contemplating concert programming. Do you know what music Neil Armstrong listened to on Apollo 11? On an overgrown path does. Angela Hewitt has reported on her musical festival in Italy, the Trasimeno. Living At The Opera has been given a facelift, featuring a new layout and design.

May 30, 2009
Somewhat of an extended break in postings here, so I will endeavour to make up for it with some extra new blogs.
Susan Tomes
Some time ago, I mentioned the Guardian blog of Susan Tomes, author, pianist and member of the Florestan Trio.  It has become inactive, and the reason is that Susan has begun a blog on her own website.  The posts are not all about music, but among those that are is one she describes the problems faced by a concert pianist with a sore finger: A painful index finger.
Stephen Hough
Another intelligent and eloquent British pianist.  The post I have chosen to illustrate his quirky output is Is that a gun in your pocket?, which is not what you are thinking, but rather about a sign he saw on a concert venue in the US.
For those interested in contemporary classical music, this is apparently one of the best sites for news and information.  Among the newer posts are concert reviews, previews of upcoming festivals and general news items.  Not really my cup of tea, but one item that did capture my attention – Entrepreneurial spirit – was about a wireless page turner for musicians.
Musical Perceptions
And finally, this blog has a list of the “top” 50 classical music blogs, admittedly dating from December 2007.  I’m not sure the rest of the blog is up to much, but at least you can check out the entries on the Top 50 that I haven’t already mentioned or haven’t disappeared entirely.
Jessica Duchen is always entertaining and forthright – I particularly like her account of attending a dress rehearsal at Glyndebourne – Solti stars in Falstaff – Solti is her cat, in case you are confused.  John France continues to expand our knowledge on British music at The Land of Lost Content – I certainly a lot more about Ivor Gurney than before reading his post.  The Rest Is Noise’s Alex Ross has recently been here in Australia at the Sydney Writers Festival, and I include a link to a post simply titled Sydney: clearly he was impressed by something that wouldn’t happen in New York.  On An Overgrown Path points us to two interesting Guardian articles: an interview with Philip Glass and Joanna McGregor on Harrison Birtwistle.

March 13, 2009
Another month missed.

Slipped Disc
This is Norman Lebrecht's blog, so you know what you are in for. Two recent posts deal with the decline in health of the big classical labels, namely Telarc and Decca.

Sticks and Drones
A second new blog to make up for missing February: a shared blog between two American conductors, Ron Spigelman (Musical Director, Springfield SO) and Bill Eddins (Musical Director, Edmonton SO). The most recent post, at the time of writing this, was ConnectiCUTS Deep and both ways! on the problems of the Connecticut Opera.

Jessica Duchen has a substantial interview with Angela Gheorghiu in More About Angela, apparently material that didn't make the print version in The Independent newspaper. She also celebrates the fifth birthday of her blog with a link list to her choice of notable posts. Angela Hewitt has been touring the US and recording her thoughts. Living At The Opera has written a number of posts on the Metropolitan Opera's telecasts, not all of them complimentary, for example, The Met’s Telecast Stifles The Romantic Mood In Lucia di Lammermoor. There are two articles by Ralph Locke on the Eastman Studies in Music series of books at Beyond The Stave.

January 15, 2009
The gap in this column has lasted rather longer than originally intended, but come the new year, we return.

The Business of Classical Music
Written by Bill Stensrud, who describes himself as making private investments and attending more than one hundred live classical concerts each year. His blog concentrates, as you would expect, on the economics of classical music, especially the recording industry, and his view is not particularly cheery. One extensive post is worthwhile reading: Classical Music After The CD: Redux. You will see that his views are not popular or generally shared (or is that appreciated?).

There was an article posted to On An Overgrown Path about Imogen Holst - A Hero's Life Overshadowed - in November last year, but with a review of her music on Musicweb this week, it makes interesting and relevant reading. An even older post but still worth mentioning at Living At The Opera is an interview with the rising soprano Joyce Di Donato, whose recordings have shown up in MWI reviews a couple of times in the last month or so. Finally, Planet Hugill writes about Vaughan Williams' Serenade To Music and specifically its original performance.

September 25, 2008
There will be a gap in these postings until mid-November (would you believe mid-January!), as your correspondent is taking an well-earned (in his mind at least) R&R break.

August 29, 2008
Normally, these postings are a month apart, but circumstances have suggested that a short intermediate one is appropriate.

American Proms Blog
Eric Braithwaite, whose Proms blog was mentioned in the previous posting, emailed Musicweb to thank us for the mention, but also to mention (graciously) his American "rival" Evan Tucker, who is also writing a blog on the 2008 Proms. I presume he is staying in London and attending rather than simply listening via the BBC, but I don't know for sure.

His posts are very comprehensive, but I think the best part are the numerous links to relevant videos on YouTube, including archival ones, such as a 1932 film of the BBC SO under Adrian Boult playing Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1.

Since I'm writing this, I will direct your attention towards On An Overgrown Path where Bob Shingleton has written a fascinating article on the great cellist In Search of Pablo Casals.

August 15, 2008
BBC Proms 2008 (The Unofficial Blog)
Given the time of year, it seems appropriate to include this blog, written by Eric Braithwaite, a regular Prommer. Essentially, it is no more than his review of a number of the concerts – eight at time of writing – and the author himself calls them reactions rather than reviews, so don’t expect a scholarly evaluation of the finer details. Having said that, they are well written, amusing and provocative.

Planet Hugill has also been to the Proms, reviewing Prom 28, which featured Stanford’s Second Piano Concerto, which it seems Robert enjoyed greatly.

Angela Hewitt, on the other hand, isn’t involved in the Proms, but has been busy elsewhere, including a July 26 performance of Book 1 of the Well Tempered Clavier at the church in Dornheim where Bach married Maria Barbara. In her words “It was very moving for us all, and I will never forget it”.

The Land of Lost Content has tracked down an article from the League of Composers Review from January 1925, entitled Vaughan Williams and Holst: compulsory reading for those interested in either or both of these great men.

Finally, Dial M for Musicology has written an interesting opinion piece entitled Audience Pleasers? which is not about popular pieces of music being programmed all the time, but rather on the psychology of audiences.

July 10
From Beyond The Stave
Some what of a departure for these pages, this is the blog of a company, in this case, the book publisher Boydell & Brewer. The Elgar "debate" refers to a lively debate in the pages of the Time Literary Supplement over critic Hugh Wood's comments on a number of Elgar books (this isn't a new article, dating back to April this year).

I draw your attention to two interesting articles from Bob Shingleton's On An Overgrown Path. Firstly, a very recent one, Contemporary composer's Dutch courage about the 20th century Dutch composer Lex van Delden, whose name was unknown to me until a few reviews of his string quartets on the MDG label appeared on these pages in the last twelve months or so. The other is a "conversation" with the English serialist composer, Elisabeth Lutyens, written last year, but linked from the homepage at the moment, since it is around her birthday. I should make it clear that Walking with Stravinsky isn't a real conversation, since she has been dead for 25 years, but rather an article written as though the author was talking to his subject.

I haven't visited Dial M for Musicology recently, so it seemed appropriate that when I did, there should be two recent posts mentioning From Beyond The Stave, including the Elgar debate. The article that most interested me (as a professional educator), however, was the recounting of a teacher story: Music History Survey Survey, about the impossibility of discussing 250 years of Western music history in a eight-week term.

Good reading.

David J Barker

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