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Words about Music

Hans Keller, 30 December 1982

Stravinsky: Selected Correspondence, Vol. I 
edited by Robert Craft.
Faber, 471 pp., £25, September 1982, 0 571 11724 4
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Igor Stravinsky: The Rake’s Progress 
by Paul Griffiths, Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft and Gabriel Josipovici.
Cambridge, 109 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 521 23746 7
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... me of something I’d never heard – a commercial traveller’s overtures. There is nothing in Robert Craft’s skilful, conscientious, copiously annotated selection to get me over the shock I then received: on the contrary, there’s plenty to revive it. Boring as many of the composer’s letters are (which, then, have remained unselected?), about ...

‘Stravinsky’

Paul Driver, 23 January 1986

Dearest Bubushkin: Selected Letters and Diaries of Vera and Igor Stravinsky 
edited by Robert Craft.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 500 01368 3
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Stravinsky: Selected Correspondence Vol. III 
edited by Robert Craft.
Faber, 543 pp., £35, October 1985, 0 571 13373 8
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... least he was Stravinsky. His wife’s letters to him, which preponderate over his to her in Robert Craft’s new selection of Stravinskyiana, Dearest Bubushkin, have biographical importance but do not all that frequently rise above the level of any wife to any husband. The book, though physically attractive and lavishly ...

Cage’s Cage

Christopher Reid, 7 August 1980

Empty Words: Writings ‘73-’78 
by John Cage.
Marion Boyars, 187 pp., £12, June 1980, 0 7145 2704 1
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... status is, of course, more doubtful, even where a great composer is concerned. The Stravinsky/Robert Craft dialogues provide a case in point: can these unlikely confections, stilted essays in what one might call the comedy of conversational manners, really be taken seriously? In a sense, yes, they can. Their rhetoric – an ...

Happy Man

Paul Driver: Stravinsky, 8 February 2007

Stravinsky: The Second Exile – France and America 1934-71 
by Stephen Walsh.
Cape, 709 pp., £30, July 2006, 0 224 06078 3
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Down a Path of Wonder: Memoirs of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Other Cultural Figures 
by Robert Craft.
Naxos, 560 pp., £19.99, October 2006, 1 84379 217 6
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... to reinvent himself with every press interview) and those of his friend, the conductor and writer Robert Craft, who has passed off much of his own prose as the composer’s, and whose custodianship of the Stravinsky legacy Walsh regards as dubious. Then there is the mystifying role of Russia, where the Stravinsky archives were so long ...

Touching the music

Paul Driver, 4 January 1996

Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship 
by Robert Craft.
Vanderbilt, 588 pp., £35.95, October 1994, 0 8265 1258 5
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... Extracts, or pericopes – to borrow his typically ornate term – from Robert Craft’s diary of his years with Stravinsky first appeared in the famous series of their conversation books issued throughout the Sixties. In 1972, after the composer’s death, a far bigger selection was published as Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship, 1948-1971 ...

Aghast

Philip Booth, 30 December 1982

Stravinsky Seen and Heard 
by Hans Keller and Milein Cosman.
Toccata Press, 127 pp., £5.95, March 1982, 0 907689 01 9
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Nadia Boulanger: A Life in Music 
by Léonie Rosenstiel.
Norton, 427 pp., £16.95, October 1982, 0 393 01495 9
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... of an intermediary. (This surely was one function of his friendship with the ardent Schoenbergian Robert Craft – which Keller does not mention – a friendship which began three years before Schoenberg’s death.) Many perceptive observers will have taken it for granted that Webern acted as a kind of buffer between the two other composers, and will be ...

Seven Miles per Hour

Robert Macfarlane: The men who invented flight, 5 February 2004

First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright 
by James Tobin.
Murray, 431 pp., £9.99, November 2003, 0 7195 5738 0
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The Wright Brothers: The Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World 
by Ian Mackersey.
Little, Brown, 554 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 316 86144 8
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Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 369 pp., £18.99, June 2003, 1 84115 368 0
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Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity to the First World War 
by Richard Hallion.
Oxford, 531 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 19 516035 5
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... by periods of painstaking effort and bursts of inspired improvisation. By scrupulously testing craft after craft, the Wrights were able to solve the remaining problems of rudimentary aeronautics, and their solutions have been intrinsic to aircraft design ever since. Faced with the difficulty of how to stop the ...

The Cool Machine

Stephen Walsh: Ravel, 25 August 2011

Ravel 
by Roger Nichols.
Yale, 430 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 0 300 10882 8
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... it, sadly, as a back-handed assessment of the other achievements. Nichols quotes with disapproval Robert Craft on Ravel’s ‘inability to emerge from the emotional world of his childhood’, but might have represented Craft more fairly by including the rest of the remark (in Current Convictions), which has it ...

Peter Conrad’s Flight from Precision

Richard Poirier, 17 July 1980

Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... and admiring and funny reminiscences by Auden’s friends, notably in the Conversations of Robert Craft and Igor Stravinsky, hardly sentimental, inexperienced or patient observers of the human scene. The comments on Auden display only in an extreme form the mentality at work here, with its incapacity for understanding, accuracy or minimum ...

Men at Sea

Robert Taubman, 6 November 1980

Rites of Passage 
by William Golding.
Faber, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 571 11639 6
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... and a particular trade: ‘I don’t know exactly where he got the facts about the mason’s craft, however, and I should like to.’ It is Trollope – substantial, circumstantial Trollope – who counters the symbolism and the hurtful recollections of the transient 1930s in The Pyramid. In their complex final form Mr Golding’s novels invite ...

At the Connaught

Robert Morley, 5 May 1983

An Orderly Man 
by Dirk Bogarde.
Chatto, 291 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 7011 2659 0
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... good enough for him’. Could you say that about his acting? He is very informative about his craft. Concentration, he opines, is the main key to cinema playing: without it you are lost and the maintaining it through thick and thin is essential, exhausting and sometimes so hard that one is brought to the edge of madness. It is a lesson many actors never ...

A Serious Table

Christopher Driver, 2 September 1982

Simple French Food 
by Richard Olney.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 339 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 906908 22 1
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Living off nature 
by Judy Urquhart.
Penguin, 396 pp., £5.95, May 1982, 0 14 005107 4
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The Food and Cooking of Russia 
by Lesley Chamberlain.
Allen Lane, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1982, 0 7139 1468 8
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Food, Wine and Friends 
by Robert Carrier.
Sphere, 197 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 7221 2295 0
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The Colour Book of Fast Food 
edited by Alison Kerr.
Octopus, 77 pp., £1.99, June 1981, 0 7064 1510 8
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... preparing lunch. Few men seem as innocent and apolitical as a chef who is preoccupied with his craft – though an exception might have to be made for the trusty employed by the Borgias. Frenchmen, perhaps, are too realistic, or live too closely to their chefs, to subscribe to this view: it was a Frenchman who reminded the world that an army marches upon ...

Were I a cloud

Patricia Beer, 28 January 1993

Robert Bridges: A Biography 
by Catherine Phillips.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 212251 7
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... Thwaite’s of Edmund Gosse and, of course, the two recent books on Gerard Manley Hopkins, one by Robert Martin and one by Norman White, but there has been nothing comprehensive. There is now. In Robert Bridges Catherine Phillips tells us everything we could reasonably wish to know about his life. About his poetry ...
Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia 
by Orlando Figes.
Allen Lane, 729 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 7139 9517 3
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... But when he finally returned to Russia for a visit in 1962, accompanied by the American conductor Robert Craft, Craft was astonished at the transformation he observed. Suddenly the man he knew, or thought he knew, became someone else: ‘Now I see that half a century of expatriation can be . . . forgotten in a ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 25 September 2014

Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... called her ‘one of the few people I ever completely loved at first sight’, talked her up to Robert Creeley; Creeley, who spent so much time with Levertov when they were both in Provence that his wife was sure they were having an affair, introduced her to William Carlos Williams; Williams told her that her second collection, Here and Now ...

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