Monday, January 01, 2018



The difference - at least to begin with - is this astonishing performance of Schulz-Evler's 'Arabesques on the Beautiful Blue Danube' from Marc-André Hamelin. The year ahead no doubt will contain fireworks of one sort or another. Here's hoping that musical ones in the best sense will be prime among them.

I usually start the JDCMB new year with a sort of factory-reset post about this blog and what it's for (assuming it's for anything at all, which it may not be).

A very warm welcome, then, to all readers, new and older. JDCMB is Jessica Duchen's Classical Music Blog - because I didn't know, when I set it up in 2004, that people were going to give blogs catchy and poetic names. JDCMB nevertheless continues to do what it says on the tin. It's a relatively random and chiefly spontaneous collection of content involving words with, for or about music. A lot of bloggers are admirably organised and systematic. I'm afraid I'm not.

I'm a Londoner and I'm a writer with a musical training. I did music at Cambridge and piano with the wonderful Joan Havill, then had to decide aged 23 which route to take. I ended up getting "proper jobs", first in music publishing, then on a succession of music magazines (including spearheading the creation of the UK's first independent piano magazine), which carried me through to my thirties. Later I was with The Independent for 12 years. I write novels, librettos, journalism, programme notes and pre-concert talks. I also often present narrated concerts based on my novels. JDCMB has come to serve as a kind of glue that holds these different boxes together.

The industries of music and writing alike have changed beyond recognition since I started out. Back then, there were paid posts for several critics on each national paper, and people could make a perfectly decent living out of writing novels. All of these possibilities have reduced or vanished since 2008, if not earlier. Therefore variety has to be the spice of life. Still, I enjoy the range and diversity of these different activities as it keeps me on my toes, or at least my fingertips.

Last summer I started a GoFundMe page called A Year for JDCMB in which those who enjoy the site can, if they wish, support it with a small subscription (or a large one if you prefer).

JDCMB has:
• News, reviews, interviews, guest posts, think-pieces, personal experiences/memories/chronicles.
• Values about music, art, quality, equality, passion. I believe everybody deserves to have great music, art and creativity in their lives.
• A feminist slant. I think people are people and should be equal and there's too much skewed against women in the industry. Therefore I do what I can to combat this.
• English English. I'm in London, UK, so please don't tell me to use American spellings, because it's not going to happen.
• An internationalist outlook. Music is an international art and depends on its internationalism for its very existence.
• A personal slant.
• Irony and occasional sarcasm, so please be prepared.

JDCMB doesn't have:
• Sexism, racism or other prejudices.
• Porn.
• Comments boxes. If you want to discuss the posts, please come over to Facebook - I put all the links on my author page and we have some lively chats, but you do have to say who you are.
• Pro-Brexit writing.
• Conspiracy theories.
• Personal attacks.

If you want coverage on JDCMB:
• I receive a lot of requests and even with the best will in the world, I can't do it all.
• Please remember you're asking me to spend my free time giving you free publicity.
• You might like to buy an advert and/or contribute to the GoFundMe page.
• Try not to start your emails by saying "My name is..." because nine times out of ten I'll already know that's your name because it's in your email address.

So there we go. Thank you for reading the site and we look forward to seeing you in 2018!

Enjoy JDCMB? Support it here!