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Breath of Unreason

Megan Vaughan: Fanon’s Psychiatric Hospital, 31 July 2008

Colonial Madness: Psychiatry in French North Africa 
by Richard Keller.
Chicago, 294 pp., £16, June 2007, 978 0 226 42973 1
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... café’. In his account of the history of psychiatry in French colonial North Africa, Richard Keller argues that the psychiatric profession was particularly influential in discussions about the ‘civilising’ mission of French colonialism and the meaning of difference for Republican citizenship. He is at pains to demonstrate that psychiatry ...

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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... avant-garde – Webern, Boulez and Stockhausen – to which his contemporaries Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett were also drawn. The mecca for music students in those days was Stockhausen’s headquarters at Darmstadt, where the ‘Darmstadt Headbangers’, as Tom Lubbock describes them, treated Britten and Shostakovich with derision as ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... the only one who acted as a water-carrier for the administration, willingly or unknowingly. Bill Keller, once a columnist and now the editor of the New York Times, wrote a widely read article in favour of the war in February 2003, entitled ‘The I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-A-Hawk Club’. Like many liberal interventionists, ...

Why can’t doctors be more scientific?

Hugh Pennington: The Great MMR Disaster, 8 July 2004

... 14. Enders shares Panum’s fate at the hands of the historians. Making Harvard Modern by Morton Keller and Phillis Keller (2001) passes him by without mention. The popular perception that naturally occurring measles is trivial is not new. One of the first to offer an explanation for the paradox of a killer being regarded ...

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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... 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 Back. Provoked by ...


Karl Miller: Football Tribes, 1 June 1989

... 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 Robson’s ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... their most prominent adherents. Among the best-known Baconians are Delia Bacon, Mark Twain, Helen Keller and Henry James; among Oxfordians, Freud and J.T. Looney. Shapiro is a gifted storyteller, whether describing Helen Keller’s visit to Mark Twain in 1909, or his own discovery that a key document, the transcript of two ...

Is Wagner bad for us?

Nicholas Spice, 11 April 2013

... 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 wife’s Isolde, caught a chill on stage and subsequently ...

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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... and music patron Baron Gottfried van Swieten, the guardian angel of Mozart’s late style. Richard Taruskin accuses Stravinsky of lying about the original idea of The Rite of Spring, which was visual and frankly ‘Scriabinistic’ rather than purely musical. In various autobiographical statements Stravinsky dismissed the help of Nicholas Roerich in ...


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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... repressive figure of Joachim – though it does help one to understand the shock-waves caused by Richard Strauss, rocking the boat with solecisms, crudities, reckless infringements of instrumental propriety, general vulgarity and callowness, and troubling Tovey the chaste grammarian and self-appointed guardian of the sacred Teutonic flame. (But he doesn’t ...

No Beast More Refined

James Davidson: How Good Was Nureyev?, 29 November 2007

Rudolf Nureyev: The Life 
by Julie Kavanagh.
Fig Tree, 787 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 905490 15 8
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... was to go to America to work with George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet. In a letter to Richard Buckle, Lincoln Kirstein described Nureyev ‘making peeeteeyous Russky noises’ about joining the company. But ‘Mrs K says defunutely: Nyet.’ The dance critics Arnold Haskell and John Martin denounced his ‘tragic’ mistake, his lamentable ...

Theirs and No One Else’s

Nicholas Spice: Conductors’ Music, 16 March 2023

directed by Todd Field.
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Richard Wagner’s Essays on Conducting: A New Translation with Critical Commentary 
by Chris Walton.
Rochester, 306 pp., £26.99, February 2021, 978 1 64825 012 5
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In Good Hands: The Making of a Modern Conductor 
by Alice Farnham.
Faber, 298 pp., £16.99, January, 978 0 571 37050 4
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... too tense, too wound up; later, he learned to be more generous with the power of the work. Hans Keller disliked Toscanini’s performances for what he perceived to be their energetic vehemence. The peculiar pleasure of Carlos Kleiber’s Beethoven performances resides in the sense they give of having world enough and time. But such an account of what ...

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