Cosima Wagner

I came across this article from August 1894 in To-Day, a magazine edited by Jerome K. Jerome. Richard Wagner had died just 11 years earlier and this encounter with his formidable widow fully justifies her reputation as the Queen of Bayreuth. She was a notably unpleasant human being with even stronger anti-Semitic views than her…

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Andre Previn R.I.P.

André Previn was the most complete musician I have ever met – I was lucky enough to interview him on three occasions.  Everything seemed to come so easily to him, laid back and apparently effortless whether in the role of conductor, classical pianist or jazz pianist.           He was also a marvelous raconteur, and one story…

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Hymn for Today

Idon’t dislike all modern hymns – or ‘worship songs’ as they are called by the people who sing them – but I dislike most of them. The words are generally as unmemorable and as undistinguished as the latest teenage lament being belted out over the PA system in my local Co-Op. ‘Love’ and ‘Jesus’ are…

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RIAS insurers – Ridiculous, Insulting And Silly

A few years ago, I was comparing quotes for house and contents insurance. One company called RIAS seemed to be a good deal – it specialised in insurance for the over 50s – but fell at the last fence as it couldn’t provide the minimum level of financial cover I required for one area. They…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Dec 15) In the Workhouse – Christmas Day

IN THE WORKHOUSE – CHRISTMAS DAY This is the correct title for the monologue / poem better known as ‘It was Christmas Day in the Workhouse’ published in 1879 by George Robert Sims (1847-1922). It is a powerful indictment of the conditions of the Victorian workhouse.                        …

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Nov 15) Jack and Jill

JACK and JILL A favourite nursery rhyme but what is it all about? The origins are obscure and remain disputed. Some think it refers to Cardinal Wolsey (Jack) and Bishop Tarbes (Jill), others that it’s about Charles 1’s attempts to tax liquor, Jack being a half pint and Jill (gill) being a quarter. But I…

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TOO MANY BEETHOVEN SONATAS

The Italian pianist Roberto Prosseda invited me to take part in a symposium in Cremona during the annual festival in which luthiers and piano manufacturers from all over the world congregate for their annual exhibition. I had never been to Cremona before. The hotel was a stone’s throw away from the imposing duomo – the medieval…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Oct 15) The Vanity of Human Wishes

THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES The Tenth Satire of Juvenal was adapted by Dr Johnson (1749). It’s a poem of 368 lines, the first ten of which are: Let Observation with extensive View, Survey Mankind from China to Peru; Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife, And watch the busy scenes of crowded Life; Then say…

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