With his 51st Academy Award nomination this year for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s clear that the composer John Williams is still at the top of his game even after a career spanning six decades which has produced a string of award-winning film scores including those for Jaws, Superman, E.T., Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park,…
Richard Wagner first came across the works of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer while he was lying low in Switzerland following his participation in the 1848 Dresden uprising where he had manned the barricades and was even rumoured to have had set fire to the opera house where he was Kapellmeister.
(1) Wagner: Overtures, Preludes and Orchestral Excerpts (2) Roussel, Debussy, Poulenc. Orchestral works (3) Fantasies, Rhapsodies and Daydreams
Tchaikovsky was distinctly unimpressed with the new Festspielhaus (Festival Theatre) in the small Bavarian town of Bayreuth when he visited there in 1876 for the opening season. With its innovative design of a 1,925 seat auditorium resembling a classical amphitheatre (including a covered orchestra pit), the acoustics were tailor made for Wagner’s ambitious operas.
While Richard Wagner’s lasting fame rests on his groundbreaking operas, he was evidently quite fond of his youthful Symphony in C major from 1832. Near the end of his life, he conducted a performance in Venice on 24 December 1882 for the birthday of his wife, Cosima Wagner; her father Franz Liszt also performed in…
Written for the collector’s edition of the Wagner Ring Cycle on Pentatone, released May 2016.
I had the honour of writing booklet notes for this very first complete cycle in multichannel surround sound.
This delightful album brings together original songs and arrangements by the unjustly neglected Spanish composer Pauline Viardot (1840 – 1910). For those unfamiliar with her music, this album is the perfect introduction with winning performances by the Bulgarian soprano Ina Kancheva, ably accompanied on the piano by Ludmil Angelov.
In the third volume of his memoirs, An Orderly Man (1983), the actor Dirk Bogarde tells the story of the first screening for Warner Bros. studio executives of the film Death in Venice, directed by Luchino Visconti. Naturally they were curious to see how their money had been spent.
This year sees the fortieth anniversary of the film Lisztomania, an outrageous fantasy biopic on the life of Franz Liszt, written and directed by the unashamed bad boy of British cinema, Ken Russell (1927-2011).