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Drowned in Eau de Vie

Modris Eksteins: New, Fast and Modern, 21 February 2008

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond 
by Peter Gay.
Heinemann, 610 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 434 01044 8
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... war at Columbia and later at Yale, Gay began his scholarly career with studies of, first, Eduard Bernstein and socialist revisionism – a book that still reads remarkably well half a century later – and then of the 18th-century Enlightenment. His early work exemplified his own need and that of his generation of European survivors to stress rationalism and ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 6 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... the scene with Fancy Free, a ballet about three sailors on shore leave; the score was by Leonard Bernstein and the two soon stormed Broadway with On the Town. The same year Martha Graham premiered a rich, visually spare piece called Appalachian Spring in collaboration with Aaron Copland and Isamu Noguchi. In 1945, John Cage and Merce Cunningham would marry ...

Praise Hayek and pass the ammunition

John Lloyd, 24 February 1994

The Fate of Marxism in Russia 
by Alexander Yakovlev, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Yale, 250 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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Politics and Society in Russia 
by Richard Sakwa.
Routledge, 518 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 415 09540 9
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... political life which its leaders advocate, and of which there are some signs? The answers Richard Sakwa and Alexander Yakovlev give to these questions are discouraging, even where they are not meant to be. The shift in the politics of Russia which followed the December elections is very marked; it is also, as usual, murky. On one level, the result ...

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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... seem to display a shift in Mr Laurence’s romantic emphases: Greer Garson arrives; Leonard Bernstein departs. More interesting is the partial reversal of Mr Laurence’s estimate of Shaw’s criticism of Brahms. In 1960 he quoted Shaw’s remark that ‘Brahms is just like Tennyson, an extraordinary musician, with the brains of a third-rate, village ...

California Noir

Michael Rogin: Destroying Los Angeles, 19 August 1999

Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster 
by Mike Davis.
Picador, 484 pp., £18.99, June 1999, 9780330372190
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... and pictorial detail that allows Davis to claim (I borrow the formulation from a famous remark of Richard Wright about horror) not that he has invented magic realism, but that Southern Californian magic realism has invented him. But sometimes, it now seems, the image that lodges with such conviction in Davis’s mind and in this book has undergone creative ...

The Fight for Eyeballs

John Sutherland: The Drudge Report, 1 October 1998

... in Watergate, muffled up like a bedouin in a sandstorm, croaking out: ‘Follow the money.’ Bernstein and Woodward’s subsequent story took months to run its course, requiring as it did double-sourcing, deep analysis, painstaking consultation with lawyers as to publishability, judicious interplay between ‘reporting’ and ‘editorialising’. What ...

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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... school in Pennsylvania, where he made friends with the son of Oscar Hammerstein, the lyricist for Richard Rodgers. (The young Sondheim went to see their pioneering show Oklahoma! when it opened in 1943.) Hammerstein recognised Sondheim’s talent, began to educate him in musical theatre and became a father-figure. It comes as a modest surprise now when ...

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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by Victor Borovsky.
Hamish Hamilton, 630 pp., £25, April 1988, 0 241 12254 6
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... Opera became a sensitive field of ideological possibilities: the traditions associated with Richard Wagner, in particular, had to be reassessed in the withering light of Nazism, while in Italy the revival – begun under Mussolini as part of a nationalist cultural policy – of an apparently dead repertory of early 19th-century works led to a vogue for ...

For the Love of Uncle Enver

Thomas Meaney: Albania after Hoxha, 23 June 2022

Free: Coming of Age at the End of History 
by Lea Ypi.
Penguin, 313 pp., £9.99, June, 978 0 14 199510 6
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... my life I woke up wanting to do something to make it happen faster.’ As a schoolgirl Ypi reads Richard Wright, learns about the capitalist enemies who want to turn her beloved country into a shopping mall, and encounters odd European tourists, some of whom seem to pity her and some of whom treat her like a precious specimen. Small anxieties balloon in her ...

In the Chair

Edward Said, 17 July 1997

Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and the Tragedy of Genius 
by Peter Ostwald.
Norton, 368 pp., $29.95, May 1997, 0 393 04077 1
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When the Music Stops: Managers, Maestros and the Corporate Murder of Classical Music 
by Norman Lebrecht.
Simon and Schuster, 400 pp., £7.99, July 1997, 0 671 01025 5
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... confounded his public when, after a steady diet of Bach and Beethoven, he turned to composers like Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Grieg and Bizet, praising them to the skies and certainly above the pianistic romantics whom everyone else played. Even with Bach and Mozart, he chose tempi that defied convention and, since he played the same work differently on ...
... War, in Russia, as the joint creation of A.R. Luria (and his father R.A. Luria), Leontev, Anokhin, Bernstein and others, and was called by them ‘neuropsychology’. The development of this immensely fruitful science was the life-work of A.R. Luria, and considering its revolutionary importance, was somewhat slow in reaching the West. It was set ...

How to play the piano

Nicholas Spice, 26 March 1992

Music Sounded Out 
by Alfred Brendel.
Robson, 258 pp., £16.95, September 1990, 0 86051 666 0
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Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations 
by Otto Friedrich.
Lime Tree, 441 pp., £12.99, October 1990, 9780413452313
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... sued Steinway’s for $300,000. In 1962, a performance of the Brahms D minor Concerto with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic caused a minor sensation. Gould played the first movement so slowly that Bernstein disowned the performance publicly before it began. The unspeakable Harold Schonberg, New York’s most ...


David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles, 3 June 2004

Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... slow swing replaced by a nocturne. The station cut in again with a learned authority, ‘Professor Richard Pierson, famous astronomer’, direct from the Princeton observatory to explain the discharge and point out that Mars could not support intelligent life. Pierson, however, confessed that he could not explain the regularity of the emissions. More ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... Big bash at the Styrons – Lennie Bernstein in an orange shirt, some sort of exotic ‘prayer’ shawl draped over his expressive shoulders, smoking away, talking to eager young girls. Mike Nichols, the serpent in the garden … Claggart to the life, said not enough money was coming in just now, wanted to get unused to the money ...

Where will we live?

James Meek: The Housing Disaster, 9 January 2014

... Housing Association, has 27,000 homes in London. In 1968 the architects David Levitt and David Bernstein and the planner Beverly Bernstein set up Circle 33, now part of a consortium of nine housing associations across England called Circle Housing.The shift of housing associations away from their ...

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