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16 March 2000
In House: Covent Garden, 50 Years of Opera and Ballet 
by John Tooley.
Faber, 318 pp., £25, November 1999, 9780571194155
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Never Mind the Moon: My Time at the Royal Opera House 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Bantam, 356 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 593 04355 3
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... three years he found himself general director. Tooley argues that the job needs theatrical experience, but Moser’s Board took a different view, passing over the claims of music and theatre men like HumphreyBurton, John Drummond and Brian McMaster, and instead gambling that Isaacs would find a proper place for Covent Garden in a televisual age. Isaacs knew that the House was adrift. He looked forward to ...
16 August 1990
Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... Whiting talked about The Devils from a café table in Loudon. And then, of course, there were the young directors whom Wheldon fostered: John Schlesinger, Ken Russell, David Jones, Peter Newington, HumphreyBurton. They were encouraged, chivvied, and in Russell’s case restrained from some of his wilder excesses, all in the cause of demonstrating the nature of art by means of films which were ...

Grand Old Sod

Paul Driver: William Walton

12 December 2002
The Selected Letters of William Walton 
edited by Malcolm Hayes.
Faber, 526 pp., £30, January 2002, 0 571 20105 9
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William Walton: Muse of Fire 
by Stephen Lloyd.
Boydell, 332 pp., £45, June 2001, 9780851158037
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William Walton, the Romantic Loner: A Centenary Portrait Album 
by Humphrey Burton and Maureen Murray.
Oxford, 182 pp., £25, January 2002, 0 19 816235 9
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... piece and its reception, copiously quoting from Walton’s letters (from one not included by Hayes we learn that Walton saw his Hindemith theme as a tone-row lacking a note), and rich in appendices. HumphreyBurton’s and Maureen Murray’s stylishly informative life-in-pictures is pure celebration, and it’s fascinating to follow the unlikely but unwinding road that leads from Werneth to Oxford to ...
3 March 1983
The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
Parsifal 
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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Parsifal 
by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... Wagner’s drama here depends on a claustrophobic intimacy much nearer to Strindbergian chamber drama than to Grand Opera. ‘There are only three characters in the first act of The Valkyrie.’ poor HumphreyBurton reminded us the following week: there are, but what had he been watching? The ruinous cost of this vandalism was inevitably reckoned in the Act Two Todesverkündigung scene, in which, some ten ...

War Requiems

David Drew

12 October 1989
... the 50th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Despite the personal narrative with which Samuel Pisar – a survivor from Auschwitz – judiciously and movingly linked the musical episodes in HumphreyBurton’s Unitel film (shown the following day on BBC 2), the nature of the occasion was essentially public – which is to say, a prey to those acts of political and social publicity which can ...

Purple Days

Mark Ford

12 May 1994
The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... of ever coming down. The narrator – nicknamed Hollywood – begins to wonder if he hasn’t made some sort of irrevocable deal with the devil, whom he sees one night in the jungle, dressed in a Humphrey Bogart hat, a Burberry raincoat, and trailing a tail that is ‘muscular, purple, and thick with spines’. In these stories, Vietnam appears as a kind of playground for psychos and serial killers ...

Red silk is the best blood

David Thomson: Sondheim

16 December 2010
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-81), with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes 
by Stephen Sondheim.
Virgin, 445 pp., £30, October 2010, 978 0 7535 2258 5
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... been flirting with thoughts of classical composition but Babbitt wanted to talk about showtunes. Sondheim dabbled in movies and visited the Italian set of Beat the Devil, where he played chess with Humphrey Bogart. There were apprentice works, not produced or not successful, and then in 1954, Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for Saturday Night. Based on a book by Julius Epstein (one of the ...

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