Showing posts with label Sunday Times. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Times. Show all posts

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Best music books of 2018

In today's Sunday Times I've rounded up six of the best classical music books of the year. Somehow 2018 was a bumper year for big, fat, beautiful ones - I've been ploughing through massive tomes on such figures as Chopin, Schumann, Debussy, Boulez, Handel and much more. 
I don't mind telling you that my top choices are headed by Alan Walker's magisterial new biography of Chopin. The other five cover a spread of different music, topics and approaches. I am very sorry that I had to leave out at least four others that really deserve inclusion. 
For some reason, it is not often that so many significant not-purely-academic and not-schlock books about classical music emerge in one year, and I hope this signals the fact that there's a real demand out there for fantastic writing on the subject.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Do stop it with the "sweet"...

I've reviewed Anna Beer's book Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music for today's Sunday Times. It's a great read, exploring the lives and times of eight remarkable people who were significant both to their day and beyond: Francesca Caccini, Barbara Strozzi, Marianna Martines, Clara Schumann, Fanny Hensel, Lili Boulanger and Elizabeth Maconchy. The whole review is here. (There's a paywall. Which, let's face it, is probably the only way forward.)

The only thing I really didn't like was the title: "sweet airs" is exactly the sort of nonsense that women who compose have had to face across century after century and not far off "tinkling prettily" (a term I've seen applied to two very different composers whose works, had they been by men, would probably have been lauded instead for their Bergian expressivity or their contrapuntal rigour). Perhaps in this case it was picked for irony...