When Arnold Schoenberg died in 1951, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote that the composer “meant nothing to me – but as he apparently meant a lot to a lot of other people I daresay it is all my own fault.” To English composers working in the 1920s – such as Vaughan Williams, Herbert Howells and Gerald Finzi – the sounds of European modernism, and especially the 12-tone music of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, came to symbolise disorder and chaos. Following the first world war, stability and reassurance, folksong and archaic modality, the refuge of unspoilt rural idylls, had become the prevalent direction of English music. Folksong earthed music in fundamental truths – the very same roots that Schoenberg’s atonality, apparently, weeded out. Vaughan Williams deserves respectful understanding. As an ambulance driver during the war, he had witnessed Europe at its most destructive. Flos Campi (Flower of the Field), his 1925 work for viola, chorus and chamber … [Read more...] about This isle is full of noises: the trouble with ‘English music’
By any measure Brian Ferneyhough is one of the UK’s leading living composers. Yet his 75th birthday this year passed almost without notice here, perhaps because for half a century now he has lived outside the UK: in Holland, Germany and California. But Ferneyhough was born in Coventry and began his music training at the Birmingham School of Music. That institution, in its latest incarnation as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, marked his birthday with a pair of concerts in his honour and the award of an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University. The Arditti Quartet, for whom Ferneyhough has composed so many works, were an essential element in the celebration; they were joined by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and instrumentalists from the conservatoire’s NEXT programme, a joint venture with BCMG that prepares musicians for careers in contemporary music. As well as including pieces by composers with local connections – Howard Skempton, Jonathan Harvey, … [Read more...] about Ferneyhough Day review – explosive salute to a modern master
It’s hard to pinpoint cause and effect, but in conversations with other female leaders in the classical sector, I’ve found that a number of us have noticed a creeping negative shift in attitudes towards women. Somehow the current political climate seems to have given permission for behaviours and attitudes that we thought we had seen the back of. A lack of respect; not being taken seriously; a low-level but deeply wearing sniping, or worse, at women in positions of authority. Back in the summer of 2014, when Donald Trump was just a joke and Brexit meant … well, nothing at all, we noticed at Sound and Music, the national charity for new music, that our composer application data was telling us something important. At every single stage of development, from GCSE onwards, the gap between male and female applications widened – from 50% at GCSE level, to the 35% female applicants to our summer school, to the 25% female applicants to Sound and Music’s various … [Read more...] about We need more women composers – and it’s not about tokenism, it’s about talent
“German football magazine 11Freunde asked for ‘two further football players beside the ever-present George Best’ to find on the cover of Oasis’s Definitely Maybe. I’m only able to spot Rodney Marsh – is there another?” asks Ulrich Stolze. This is the problem with MP3s: you can’t consult them when you need to answer obscure questions for weekly internet-based football columns. We did find the front cover, but despite studying it so hard that our visual acuity went down by 22.24%, we could only find the aforementioned Best and Marsh. Thankfully, Graham Randall prefers the tangible to the digital. “On the inside cover of the vinyl version, Liam is reading a newspaper,” says Graham. “On the back page is Leicester’s Steve Walsh celebrating his winner in the 1994 play-off final against Derby.” Walsh completes an unlikely trinity. There is a photograph of Best on the windowsill and another of Marsh by the … [Read more...] about Which football players appear on the cover of Definitely Maybe?
"Following on from your old football-inspired albums question, Iron Maiden's Somewhere in Time has reference to West Ham beating Arsenal 7-3 on the album cover," begins Paul Baker. "Barring the SFA using the iconic Robin Friday at Cardiff image, the Wedding Present's George Best at Manchester United one and Mogwai's Zidane soundtrack (Real Madrid), have any other football teams been referenced on CD album covers?" A fine question, Paul, and one that has brought the most comprehensive and least digressive answer from Paul White. We don't know if our correspondent has been riffling through the album racks in Noord-Holland, but he's uncovered a gem with this. The artistic collaboration between FC Volendam and Radio Veronica resulted in this love child in 1973, the same year that "The Other Orange" became the first Eerste Divisie side to tie up a sponsorship deal – with the offshore pirate radio station Veronica. They put a large V on their shirts that season, claiming to get around … [Read more...] about Which football teams have been referenced on album covers?