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Philip Booth, 30 December 1982

Stravinsky Seen and Heard 
by Hans Keller and Milein Cosman.
Toccata Press, 127 pp., £5.95, March 1982, 0 907689 01 9
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Nadia Boulanger: A Life in Music 
by Léonie Rosenstiel.
Norton, 427 pp., £16.95, October 1982, 0 393 01495 9
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... The husband-and-wife team of Hans Keller and Milein Cosman looks at Stravinsky in his later years from two very different points of view: on the one hand, that of the rational music critic and analyst; on the other, that of the subjective visual artist. Milein Cosman’s vigorous sketches, made during the composer’s visits to London between 1958 and 1965, occupy over half the book ...

The Phonic and the Phoney

Nicholas Spice: Being Hans Keller, 4 February 2021

Hans Keller 1919-85: A Musician in Dialogue with His Times 
by Alison Garnham and Susi Woodhouse.
Routledge, 421 pp., £34.99, December 2018, 978 1 138 39104 8
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... Two scenes​ from his teenage years in prewar Vienna defined Hans Keller’s later life: one a kind of heaven, the other a window on hell. He was a viola pupil of Oskar Adler, a doctor and musician, and took part in the famously select chamber music salons at Adler’s house in the Neubaugasse, where on Saturday afternoons the luminaries of Vienna would play string quartets and talk about music ...

Keller’s Causes

Robin Holloway, 3 August 1995

Essays on Music 
by Hans Keller, edited by Christopher Wintle, Bayan Northcott and Irene Samuel.
Cambridge, 269 pp., £30, October 1994, 0 521 46216 9
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... to around the start of William Glock’s regime at the Third Programme (afterwards Radio Three), Hans Keller’s vehement presence was a force for the good in English musical life. He represented at a high level old-style modern values – not exactly cosmopolitan (an important reservation to which I shall return) but emphatically not insular. In ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... about ‘musical wallpaper’, though the exchanges quoted here between David Drew (deploring it), Hans Keller (finding paradoxical good in it) and Shawe-Taylor (thinking of benefits to the elderly) centre on the transmission of Haydn’s complete symphonies. Worse was to come, including Mainly for Pleasure. In the years leading up to that first full ...

Biographical Materials

Alan Hollinghurst, 15 October 1981

Remembering Britten 
edited by Alan Blyth.
Hutchinson, 181 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 09 144950 2
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Britten and Auden in the Thirties: The Year 1936 
by Donald Mitchell.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.50, February 1981, 0 571 11715 5
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... a normal life, he lived an abnormal one ...’ By far the most penetrating contributions come from Hans Keller and Donald Mitchell, the editors of the important Commentary on Britten’s work in 1952. Keller is the only person who really approaches the question of Britten’s homosexuality and the constructive role it ...


Karl Miller: Football Tribes, 1 June 1989

... even when they aren’t happening, let alone succeeding. I once fell out editorially with the late Hans Keller over an article in which he had argued that Bryan Robson was an unsatisfactory player, and that the ethos of fire and sword and effort which he had been taken to exemplify was an illness of the British game. I thought that the denunciation of ...

The Faster the Better

Paul Driver: Anatomising Mendelssohn, 3 February 2005

Mendelssohn: A Life in Music 
by Larry Todd.
Oxford, 683 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 19 511043 9
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... this much loved concerto nearly became a third piano concerto (a score left unfinished). It is, as Hans Keller said, the most violinistic of concertos, its virtuoso passages lying ‘marvellously on the instrument’ and ‘far easier to play than they sound’. The work is easily taken for granted, as it was by Saul Bellow in To Jerusalem and ...

Liberation Music

Richard Gott: In Memory of Cornelius Cardew, 12 March 2009

Cornelius Cardew: A Life Unfinished 
by John Tilbury.
Copula, 1069 pp., £45, October 2008, 978 0 9525492 3 9
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... it had been ‘unwaveringly rejected by our more powerful pundits of musical taste’ – Hans Keller, William Glock and Peter Heyworth. For someone like Keller, the gatekeeper of the debate about new music in the 1960s and 1970s, Cardew was a godsend: Keller might not agree ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... newspaper criticism almost daily, or who have studied, say, Charles Rosen’s The Classical Style, Hans Keller on Mozart, Deryck Cooke’s The Language of Music or Alan Walker’s An Anatomy of Music Criticism, Kerman, like Lang’s Hindu ascetic, may seem in danger of losing the larger view. The complaint against musicologists is not new either: Carl ...

The Cool Machine

Stephen Walsh: Ravel, 25 August 2011

by Roger Nichols.
Yale, 430 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 0 300 10882 8
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... idiom’. One might even speculate that, like many repressed artists (Stravinsky was another: Hans Keller notoriously diagnosed him as a sado-masochist), Ravel found it convenient to base himself on models. His so-called Debussyism is to some extent a modelling of this kind. In sheer sensibility, the two were profoundly different – which may go ...


Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... not perceive at any level. It is much the same with musicology: stimulating as it may be to read Hans Keller, his analysis of a Haydn quartet puts names and dockets on relationships we might hope to apprehend by our own cruder mechanisms. On the other hand, a richly fraught historical survey gives us new ears to piece out the meaning of the ...


Paul Driver, 7 January 1993

The Roaring Silence: John Cage, A Life 
by David Revill.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £22.50, September 1992, 0 7475 1215 9
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... a distinction between them being impossible to make. It is interesting to note, however, that Hans Keller (so Revill reminds us) dismissed Cage’s lessons with Schoenberg as ‘public fantasies’: ‘so long as Schoenberg was alive, we didn’t hear about Cage’s studies with him.’ One way or another, Cage derived from Schoenberg the ...

Musical Beds

D.A.N. Jones, 30 December 1982

On Going to Bed 
by Anthony Burgess.
Deutsch, 96 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 233 97470 9
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The End of the World News 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 398 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 09 150540 2
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This Man and Music 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 09 149610 1
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... of a Parody Mass! Our advice will be greeted with a blast from his famous composition, Homage to Hans Keller for Four ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... performance after taking a ‘vapour bath’. Relations between the orchestra and the conductor, Hans von Bülow, grew strained: Franz Strauss, father of Richard and the brilliant first horn of the Munich orchestra, had a blazing row with von Bülow, stomped out of the pit and had to be coaxed back. Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who sang Tristan to his ...

i could’ve sold to russia or china

Jeremy Harding: Bradley Manning, 19 July 2012

The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in US History 
by Chase Madar.
OR, 167 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 935928 53 9
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... have their man: why bother with his celebrity publisher? Outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Hans Crescent, round the back of Harrods, a thin but emblematic presence is maintained by his supporters. While I was there earlier this month a French woman was squatting on the pavement, hunched over a placard, shading in the letters of a message that she later ...

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