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Fundamentalisms

Malise Ruthven

1 July 1982
Two Minutes over Baghdad 
by Amos Perlmutter, Michael Handel and Uri Bar-Joseph.
Corgi, 192 pp., £1.75, April 1982, 0 552 11939 3
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Inside the Middle East 
by Dilip Hiro.
Routledge, 471 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 7100 9030 7
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America Held Hostage: The Secret Negotiations 
by Pierre Salinger.
Deutsch, 349 pp., £10.95, May 1982, 0 233 97456 3
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... No one contemplating the events of the past few weeks can doubt that the complex and intractable conflicts of the Middle East pose a far greater threat to world peace than the ugly fight in the South Atlantic ever did. Despite the windy rhetoric about principles, the Falklands conflict has been a comparatively simple one about sovereignty over disputed territory, involving national prestige – and ...

Fabian Figaro

Michael​ Holroyd

3 December 1981
Shaw’s Music. Vol. I: 1876-1890 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 957 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30247 8
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. II: 1890-1893 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 985 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30249 4
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. III: 1893-1950 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 910 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30248 6
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Conducted Tour 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 0 224 01896 5
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... drum and cymbals, never very welcome, are particularly objectionable at Her Majesty’s, the instruments used being utterly destitute of tone. It would be cheaper, and equally effectual, for Sir Michael to employ a stage carpenter to bang the orchestra door at a prearranged signal.’ ‘Why is it that the Master of Ravenswood, whenever he appears on the stage in the opera, proceeds to fling his ...

Empathy

Robin Holloway: Donald Francis Tovey

8 August 2002
The Classics of Music: Talks, Essays and Other Writings Previously Uncollected 
by Donald Francis Tovey, edited by Michael​ Tilmouth.
Oxford, 821 pp., £60, September 2001, 0 19 816214 6
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... tonality that remains unequalled in lucid profundity for all that it was never extended into lengthy volumes. Tovey’s musical universe is founded on a line from the summit of baroque (Bach, Handel); to Viennese classicism, the triumph of tonality and the sonata principle (Haydn, Mozart, culminating in Beethoven); its expansion and decline alongside wonderful new possibilities in Schubert; its ...
4 February 1982
Three for Water-Music 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 69 pp., £2.95, July 1981, 0 85635 363 9
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The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse 
edited by Donald Davie.
Oxford, 319 pp., £7.95, September 1981, 0 19 213426 4
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... damp, and mosquitoes, and an occasion all innocent pretentiousness. And yet a good many people feel, and are surely right to go on feeling, that they know all about water-music, simply because of Handel. It is surprising how much of ordinary life turns out to be purely conceptual like this – in modern society, at any rate; and modernity probably started with the making of the Lascaux cave ...

Venice-on-Thames

Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens

7 February 2013
Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... boxes that surrounded the grove (the punishment the pictures took from weather and food was severe). Vauxhall’s main attraction was musical performance. English-based composers and performers, Handel especially, were favoured. A great crowd gathered to hear the rehearsal of Handel’s music for the royal fireworks on 21 April 1749; there was a three-hour traffic jam on London Bridge. Borg and ...
8 February 2001
Haydn Studies 
edited by Dean Sutcliffe.
Cambridge, 343 pp., £47.50, October 1998, 0 521 58052 8
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... Josef Smrcek and Frantisek Tomes, or about the specialised diet of the sheep that yielded the best 18th-century catgut? The oddest contribution – though also one of the most interesting – is Michael Spitzer’s analysis of the first movement of Symphony No. 46 in B and other pieces in terms of a theory of melody proposed by Eugene Narmour. The idea is that we perceive a minimal melodic event ...

Entails

Christopher Driver

19 May 1983
Fools of Fortune 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 239 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30953 7
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What a beautiful Sunday! 
by Jorge Semprun, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Secker, 429 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 9780436446603
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An Innocent Millionaire 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 388 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 241 10929 9
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The Papers of Tony Veitch 
by William McIlvanney.
Hodder, 254 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 340 22907 1
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In the Shadow of the Paradise Tree 
by Sasha Moorsom.
Routledge, 247 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9408 6
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The Bride 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 224 02047 1
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... entailed mutual understanding. The first English Mrs Quinton alienated her Dorset parents by writing them hysterical letters in the 1840s, trying to radicalise them about the Irish famine. This time, Michael Collins visits Kilneagh, as a friend. The Troubles come. The house is burnt and Willie Quinton’s father is killed with his dogs and servants, not by Irishmen resenting his English connections, but ...
4 August 1988
Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... devoted to the subject of sodomy – ‘that utterly confusing category’, as Foucault called it. Reading through the counterpointing essays of Randolph Trumbach, G.S. Rousseau, Arend Huussen and Michael Rey is like eavesdropping on a seminar. Participants in the debate argue about who did what to whom, how often and for how much in a way that reinforces rather than removes the sense of confusion ...

Cooking it up

Rupert Christiansen

19 January 1989
Maria: Callas Remembered 
by Nadia Stancioff.
Sidgwick, 264 pp., £13.95, April 1988, 0 283 99645 5
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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes 
by John Ardoin.
Robson, 300 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 86051 504 4
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Callas as they saw her 
edited by David Lowe.
Robson, 264 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 9780860514961
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The Great Caruso 
by Michael​ Scott.
Hamish Hamilton, 322 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 241 11954 5
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Chaliapin 
by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... larger-than-life, and to keep caste as caviare to the general. This applies just as much to the self-confessed puritans of the genre (Gluck, Wagner, Birtwistle) as to the unapologetic sensualists (Handel, the Italians, Strauss): perhaps only Debussy in Pelléas et Mélisande has successfully transcended this fundamental crudity of impact. In the period since Brecht’s strictures, however, a nouvelle ...
22 November 1990
Leonard Bernstein 
by Joan Peyser.
Bantam, 430 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 593 01454 5
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Leonard Bernstein 
by Michael​ Freedland.
Harrap, 273 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 245 54499 2
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Leonard Bernstein 
by Peter Gradenwitz.
Berg, 310 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 85496 510 6
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Make the music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein 
by Eric Gordon.
St Martin’s, 605 pp., $29.95, March 1989, 0 312 02607 2
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... everything musically useful that the biographers of 1987-88 contrived to ‘reveal’ by parting so many domestic and other curtains would have been almost negligible but for one episode recounted by Michael Freed-land. As an example of what he shyly calls Bernstein’s ‘other side’ the episode has a small but central place in his book; and the fact that its real significance seems to have been lost ...

The Knock at the Door

Philip Clark: The Complete Mozart

8 February 2018
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The New Complete Edition 
Universal Classics, £275, October 2016Show More
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... were struck by hammers, rather than plucked with a plectrum in the manner of a harpsichord). He also made use of instrumental curios: the metallic clink of the keyed glockenspiel, obsolete since Handel’s day, helped summon up the fantasy world of The Magic Flute. ‘The idea that Mozart was disengaged from the modern world, and oblivious to anything other than music is an enduring – if false ...

A Row of Shaws

Terry Eagleton: That Bastard Shaw

21 June 2018
Judging Shaw 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Royal Irish Academy, 381 pp., £28, October 2017, 978 1 908997 15 9
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... so, he neither suppressed his Irish origin like Wilde nor played it up like Brendan Behan, who once declared that he was a drinker with a writing problem. A man who could whistle a number of works by Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven from end to end, Shaw started out in London as a music critic. He was already engaged in the project of turning the obscure Bernard Shaw into the legendary GBS, a coinage ...

Diary

Kevin Kopelson: Confessions of a Plagiarist

22 May 2008
... that, beyond what all literary critics (including Lentricchia) are supposed to do, I – well, let me quote Winton Dean: There is a big difference between the comparatively rare occasions on which Handel passed off others’ compositions as his own and the far more numerous instances of his using the ideas of others as a jumping-off point for fresh composition. It may seem strange that he needed to ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?

28 November 2002
Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... social reform as well as military victory: Labour’s 1945 election manifesto described its policies as ‘the practical expression’ of ‘the spirit of Dunkirk and the Blitz’. (Weight misses Michael Foot’s 1949 pamphlet on domestic reform entitled Who Are the Patriots Now?) A different kind of identity came to fruition during the Attlee Administration: new institutions were called ‘National ...

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