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Form-Compelling

David Matthews: How to Write a Fugue, 21 September 2006

The Art of Fugue: Bach Fugues for Keyboard 1715-50 
by Joseph Kerman.
California, 173 pp., £15.95, August 2005, 0 520 24358 7
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... Counterpoint, the art of combining two or more independent melodic lines, is the prime distinguishing feature of Western music. Music began with monody – unaccompanied melody – and with rhythmic patterns beaten out on sticks and drums: the majority of the world’s folk music is monodic. Often, percussion underlines the rhythm, and sometimes a drone is added, an unchanging note in the bass, which keeps the tune in touch with the earth as it makes its aerial flights: this is a feature of some of the most sophisticated non-Western musics, for instance classical Indian ...

Vagueness

Hans Keller, 1 May 1980

Michael Tippett: An Introductory Study 
by David Matthews.
Faber, 112 pp., £5.95, December 1979, 0 571 10954 3
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Tippett and his Operas 
by Eric Walter White.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... unless you accept that there is no substitute for, no viable alternative to, clarity. According to David Matthews, Tippett himself has come close to this view – ever since the early Sixties, when he ‘joined Britten in a liking for clear, uncluttered textures’. Did he? And has he thus continued? On and off. His most recent, Fourth Quartet (1977-8) is ...

Darkness Audible

Nicholas Spice, 11 February 1993

Benjamin Britten 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 680 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 571 14324 5
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... idea of absence or of something thwarted is central. And that’s why it is wrong to suggest, as David Matthews does in a recent review of Carpenter’s book, that Britten’s greatness was achieved through his emotional anguish, rather than despite it. To lose the sense that something is missing in Britten’s music – the what-could-have-been and the ...

Perfectly Mobile, Perfectly Still

David Craig: Land Artists, 14 December 2000

Time 
by Andy Goldsworthy.
Thames and Hudson, 203 pp., £35, August 2000, 0 500 51026 1
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... black and white photographs complete Long’s obsessional ritual. Near my home in Cumbria, Sally Matthews has worked very differently. In A Cry in the Wilderness (1990), two hounds jump over a ragged drystone wall in the permanent twilight of Grizedale Forest. Their colours are rendered in the black of peaty mud, the bronze of stripped branches. Although the ...

Pepys’s Place

Pat Rogers, 16 June 1983

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol X: Companion and Vol XI: Index 
edited by Robert Latham.
Bell and Hyman, 626 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 7135 1993 2
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The Diary of John Evelyn 
edited by John Bowle.
Oxford, 476 pp., £19.50, April 1983, 0 19 251011 8
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The Brave Courtier: Sir William Temple 
by Richard Faber.
Faber, 187 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 571 11982 4
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... of his fellow-lodger’. These words were penned by Robert Latham’s collaborator, William Matthews, who died in 1976. He was a scholar in the old style, not given to trendy assimilation of historic sources into the narratology of modern angst. But his effort to see the diary as something more than ‘full, objective reporting’, a bigger literary ...

His Own Sort of Outsider

Philip Clark: Tippett’s Knack, 16 July 2020

Michael Tippett: The Biography 
by Oliver Soden.
Weidenfeld, 750 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4746 0602 8
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... as the trial approached, his attitude changed perceptibly. Writing to his friend the journalist David Ayerst, Tippett declared himself ‘very much at peace and ready to go’.On 21 August 1943, at 7.30 a.m. precisely, after serving two months of his three-month sentence, Tippett was released from Wormwood Scrubs. He was met by Britten and Pears, who would ...

Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... win the Vogel Award, the most prominent prize for first novels in Australia; it was described by David Marr, Patrick White’s biographer, as ‘astonishingly talented’, and by Jill Kitson of the ABC as ‘a searingly truthful account of terrible wartime deeds that is also an imaginative work of extraordinary redemptive power’. Assuming, as we all ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife, 17 March 2016

... said nothing remotely like this in the preceding 68 years of her life; a canny journalist, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, summed up her South Carolina victory speech on 27 February as an assurance that ‘I’m more like Bernie Sanders than this contest may have made us seem.’ How long can she keep up the versatility unrebuked? Sanders gave a rough idea of what ...

Music and Beyond

Hans Keller, 21 October 1982

Hanns Eisler: Political Musician 
by Albrecht Betz, translated by Bill Hopkins.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £25, June 1982, 0 521 24022 0
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Music and Political: Collected Writings 1953-81 
by Hans Werner Henze, translated by Peter Labanyi.
Faber, 286 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 571 11719 8
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Vindications: Essays on Romantic Music 
by Deryck Cooke and Bryan Magee.
Faber, 226 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11795 3
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... The Language of Music – undertaken by three personal friends, Hazel Smalley and the composers David and Colin Matthews. In North America, that first and most important book of his has proved him what I have described as ‘one of our time’s two or three major analytic intellects’; I am indulging in this ...

The End

Angela Carter, 18 September 1986

A Land Apart: A South African Reader 
edited by André Brink and J.M. Coetzee.
Faber, 252 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13933 7
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Where Sixpence lives 
by Norma Kitson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3085 7
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... And with a frog in her throat she replied – I’m behind you. One hundred per cent. The John Matthews of the poem ends up with a sentence of 15 years. Norma Kitson’s husband, David Kitson, was sentenced to 20 years for work connected with the early days of the ANC. Like Dulcie, she was a hundred per cent behind him ...

Not Pleasing the Tidy-Minded

Ross McKibbin: Postwar Britain, 24 April 2008

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 692 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 7475 7985 4
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... British children had been reduced. These memories were refreshed by reading Austerity Britain, David Kynaston’s huge history of the country between 1945 and 1951. It is difficult for anyone familiar only with the shimmering prosperity of contemporary Western Europe to realise just what it was like in the years immediately after the Second World War. In ...

Against Consciousness

Richard Gregory, 24 January 1980

Pavlov 
by Jeffrey Gray.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.25, September 1980, 9780006343042
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J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism 
by David Cohen.
Routledge, 297 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7100 0054 5
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... of the dark. His behaviourist techniques never succeeded in curing him of this fear of the dark. David Cohen makes the most of the limited material available on Watson’s early life, but we get just enough to see him, and his doubts and uncertainties, as a bright ambitious student in an undistinguished college. He moves to Chicago, carries out truly ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... of the latest supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and William Walton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile. Morecambe seems to be laughing at one of his own ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties, 1 April 1999

The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... of what is generally happening all about us here is only unutterable,’ he confessed to Brander Matthews. The country house, that central prop of the idyllic British afternoon, figured prominently in the catastrophe, as a retreat that was no longer a retreat, a bastion of pan-European culture which had proved devastatingly permeable. Beyond Britain, Edith ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... forestall their [defection] or to cover their trail.’ Perhaps. Yet it was the British Communist David Crook who did most of the spying on the Orwells – and, according to Gordon Bowker in his biography of Orwell, Crook went on to suggest that Eileen was having an affair with Kopp. The snakepit from which the Orrs scrambled when they left for France was ...

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