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State Aid

Denis Arnold, 22 December 1983

A History of English Opera 
by Eric Walter White.
Faber, 472 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 571 10788 5
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... Do not believe the title. This book is scarcely a history, in the meaningful sense of that word, because although it is a collection of facts arranged in chronological order, it makes little attempt to assess them. Nor does it really treat of English opera, although there is ample information about theatres, librettists and composers. It is an obvious example of Hamlet without the Prince: in this case, music ...

Mrs Schumann’s Profession

Denis Arnold, 22 May 1986

The Cambridge Music Guide 
edited by Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham.
Cambridge, 544 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 521 25946 0
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Tudor Music 
by David Wulstan.
Dent, 378 pp., £20, October 1985, 0 460 04412 5
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The Music Profession in Britain since the 18th Century: A Social History 
by Cyril Ehrlich.
Oxford, 269 pp., £22.50, January 1986, 0 19 822665 9
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Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman 
by Nancy Reich.
Gollancz, 346 pp., £15.95, October 1985, 0 575 03755 5
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Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist 
by Sheila Hodges.
Granada, 274 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 246 12001 0
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... English musicology has always embraced the Big Bang theory, which is to say that musical history is the story of great composers. Tovey’s remark that there are Great Composers and there are Interesting Historical Figures sums it up quite well. The German school has for the most part believed in principles and (since its discipline was born in the times of Darwin) the development of the species – whether symphony, harmonic idiom or orchestration ...


Denis Arnold, 19 September 1985

Interpreting Bach’s ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’: A Performer’s Discourse of Method 
by Ralph Kirkpatrick.
Yale, 132 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 300 03058 4
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Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays 
edited by Peter Williams.
Cambridge, 363 pp., £27.50, April 1985, 0 521 25217 2
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Handel: The Man and his Music 
by Jonathan Keates.
Gollancz, 346 pp., £12.95, February 1985, 0 575 03573 0
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Sensibility and English Song: Critical Studies of the Early 20th Century: Vols I and II 
by Stephen Banfield.
Cambridge, 619 pp., £27.50, April 1985, 0 521 23085 3
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... Even those of us who believe that the European Music Year is an invention of Saatchi and Saatchi can hardly deny that la generazione dell’ottantacinque was a formidable crew. How J.S. Bach, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti all came to be born in 1685 must be ascribed to chance; no juggling with the facts of cultural history can possibly account for it ...

Old Grove and New Grovers

Denis Arnold, 16 October 1980

George Grove 
by Percy Young.
Macmillan, 344 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 333 19602 3
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... The machine grinds on and on. The sixth edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians will come out next winter, all 20 volumes, 18,000 pages, 22,500 articles, 7,500 cross-references, over three thousand illustrations, over two thousand five hundred music-type examples – if the dust-cover of Percy Young’s biography of its founder is to be believed ...


Nicholas Spice, 22 December 1983

Otto Klemperer: His Life and Times. Vol.I: 1885-1933 
by Peter Heyworth.
Cambridge, 492 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 521 24293 2
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Score and Podium: A Complete Guide to Conducting 
by Frederik Prausnitz.
Norton, 530 pp., £18.50, November 1983, 0 393 95154 5
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The New Oxford Companion to Music 
edited by Denis Arnold.
Oxford, 2017 pp., £37.50, October 1983, 0 19 311316 3
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... of musical history to be given in the British Imperial perspective. It was written for Wasps, says Denis Arnold, from a Waspish point of view and aimed at ‘a middle-class audience, whose children were choirboys, learned the piano and the organ, and prepared for the theory examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’. Bits of the ...

Is it always my fault?

Denis Donoghue: T.S. Eliot, 25 January 2007

T.S. Eliot 
by Craig Raine.
Oxford, 202 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 19 530993 5
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... But the motif survives that irony. Raine finds it most seriously in Henry James and Matthew Arnold; in James in ‘The Beast in the Jungle’, ‘The Private Life’, Washington Square and other fictions of the unlived life; in Arnold in his poem ‘The Buried Life’: And we have been on many thousand lines, And we ...


Denis Donoghue: Karlin’s collection of Victorian verse, 4 June 1998

The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse 
edited by Danny Karlin.
Allen Lane, 851 pp., £25, October 1997, 9780713990492
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... with ‘some propaganda or traditional doctrine to give companionship with their fellows’. Arnold had ‘his faith in what he described as the best thought of his generation’, Browning ‘his psychological curiosity’, Tennyson ‘moral values that were not aesthetic values’. But in the second or antinomian tradition, ‘Coleridge of the Ancient ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... say a few words about Keats?’ Similarly he says a few words, not invariably silly, about Matthew Arnold, Pater, Cavafy, Lawrence, Gibbon, Kipling, and Edward Thomas: ‘I am prejudiced beyond all explanation against the poetry, prose, personality, and papa of Edward Thomas ... ’ But the most typical – not the liveliest – letter is one that arose from ...


Adam Phillips, 24 August 1995

Walter Pater: Lover of Strange Souls 
by Denis Donoghue.
Knopf, 364 pp., $27.50, May 1995, 0 679 43753 3
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... doing something new, he was doing something badly. ‘In the matter of historical fact,’ Denis Donoghue writes, joining in, as it were, ‘Pater also took liberties, so many that it is a pity he did not derive more satisfaction from them.’ But Pater was satisfied not by getting it wrong, but by not having to get it right. It was his style to affirm ...

Keeping Left

Edmund Dell, 2 October 1980

The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... beds, he could not bring himself to do it himself. He brought in the magnificent, if always late, Arnold Goodman. Wilson won four elections in difficult times. His third and fourth governments were elected in unprecedently difficult times, but his Ministers felt themselves to be very experienced. Most of the leading people had served between 1964 and ...


Arnold Rattenbury: Hamish Henderson, 23 January 2003

Collected Poems and Songs 
by Hamish Henderson, edited by Raymond Ross.
Curly Snake, 163 pp., £9.99, March 2000, 1 902141 01 6
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... Time. After all, Blake was the only English poet noted in the Elegies, among Hölderlin, Goethe, Denis Saurat, Sorley MacLean, Dante and Ossian. Blake had written, ‘Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau’; Henderson: Fuck on, fuck on, Verlaine, Rimbaud You blissful buggers; fuck again – For on my heart as on the town The small drops of your poems ...

Keach and Shelley

Denis Donoghue, 19 September 1985

Shelley’s Style 
by William Keach.
Methuen, 269 pp., £18, April 1985, 9780416303209
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Ariel: A Shelley Romance 
by André Maurois and Ella D’Arcy.
Penguin, 252 pp., £1.95, September 1985, 0 14 000001 1
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... has been stated so insistently by modern critics that you would imagine they had invented it. But Arnold, Eliot, Leavis and other opponents have merely refined what Hazlitt said in 1821 and Mary Shelley said, among more laudatory things, in 1824. The gist of it is that Shelley’s sense of reality is immature. ‘His bending, flexible form,’ as Hazlitt put ...

Joining the Gang

Nicholas Penny: Anthony Blunt, 29 November 2001

Anthony Blunt: His Lives 
by Miranda Carter.
Macmillan, 590 pp., £20, November 2001, 0 333 63350 4
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... risk-taking that Steiner has in mind seem to refer to the attacks on his scholarship by Denis Mahon, but the logic of this argument is impossible to follow. Some close friends also supposed that Blunt must have got a kick out of danger, and Dadie Rylands, who knew him very well as a young man, noted that he liked to be ‘melted and tempted’ by ...

Italy Stirs

Adrian Lyttelton, 22 June 1995

by Denis Mack Smith.
Yale, 302 pp., £19.95, April 1994, 0 300 05884 5
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Verdi: A Biography 
by Mary Jane Phillips-Matz.
Oxford, 941 pp., £30, October 1993, 0 19 313204 4
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The Real Traviata 
by Gaia Servadio.
Hodder, 290 pp., £20, October 1994, 9780340579480
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... After his dismissive biography of Mussolini and his scathing treatment of Italy’s royal family, Denis Mack Smith has turned back to a figure who fully engages his sympathies, and some may miss the darkly satirical tone of those earlier essays in denunciation. Mazzini is a work of passionate advocacy, which aims both to remind us of its subject’s enormous ...


David Marquand, 22 January 1981

Change and Fortune 
by Douglas Jay.
Hutchinson, 515 pp., £16, June 1980, 0 09 139530 5
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Life and Labour 
by Michael Stewart.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 283 98686 7
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... side. In Parliament, he was overtaken by younger men – George Brown, Jim Callaghan, even Denis Healey. When Labour returned to power in 1964, he was given the important, but hardly central, office of President of the Board of Trade. Three years later, he was brutally and unceremoniously sacked. Since then, he has hung on in politics as a backbencher ...

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