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Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... the organic life of the music, the veins and the tissues of the music.’ On the other hand, for Pierre Boulez it is precisely the organic nature of Wagner’s development of the motifs in the Ring which is a source of admiration and respect. On this, I’m with Boulez. Rather than treating the leitmotifs as a handy ...

Cosmic Ambition

Edward Said: J.S. Bach, 19 July 2001

Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician 
by Christoph Wolff.
Oxford, 599 pp., £25, March 2000, 9780198165347
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... rare. There is no one like that today, unless one considers extraordinary conductors – Pierre Boulez, for example, who is also a great composer – to be virtuoso performers akin to pianists and organists. Today’s concerts are extreme events, something quite apart from everyday life. Pollini or Barenboim or Yo-Yo Ma are individuals with ...

Rain, Blow, Rustle

Nick Richardson: John Cage, 19 August 2010

No Such Thing As Silence: John Cage’s 4'33" 
by Kyle Gann.
Yale, 255 pp., £16.99, April 2010, 978 0 300 13699 9
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... an 18-year-old student of Cage’s, and by Morton Feldman, Cage’s friend; and thundered through Pierre Boulez’s fiendishly difficult first sonata. The penultimate piece on the programme was Cage’s latest, 4’33”. Tudor shut the piano and sat still. The wind rustled in the maples. Half a minute later he reopened the lid, then shut it. The summer ...

The Ultimate Magical Synaesthesia Machine

Rob Young: Painting Music, 22 September 2011

The Music of Painting 
by Peter Vergo.
Phaidon, 367 pp., £39.95, November 2010, 978 0 7148 5762 6
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... of the concert hall. ‘Surrealist music’ is thin on the ground, though it could be argued that Pierre Schaeffer’s pioneering work with musique concrète in the late 1940s shifted the paradigm of composition towards a more hands-on, automatist methodology that chimed with surrealist practice. Vergo is good on paintings that turn on musical principles or ...

As If

Jonathan Romney: ‘Cahiers du cinéma’, 9 September 2010

A Short History of ‘Cahiers du cinéma’ 
by Emilie Bickerton.
Verso, 156 pp., £12.99, March 2010, 978 1 84467 232 5
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... of the intellectual world beyond cinema, publishing interviews with Barthes, Lévi-Strauss and Boulez. More radical changes followed in the wake of May 1968. In October 1969, Jean-Louis Comolli and Jean Narboni issued a manifesto for Cahiers’ new role, outlining a division of films into seven types, all differently inflected by ideology (from lucid ...

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