Downturn for the Abbey

We watched the last two episodes of Downton back to back last night. The only way to watch the programme is via a recording so that you can fast forward through the interminable adverts. The scripts for the fourth series are better than for the third which were better than the ludicrous second, but goodness…

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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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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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