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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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... to a sales talk without an ounce of substance, a string of compliments that immediately reminded me of something I’d never heard – a commercial traveller’s overtures. There is nothing in RobertCraft’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 ...
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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... Stravinsky was a dull correspondent, but at least he was Stravinsky. His wife’s letters to him, which preponderate over his to her in RobertCraft’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 ...

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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... and reported sayings of famous composers have a strange, but respectable, literary status. Their musical status is, of course, more doubtful, even where a great composer is concerned. The Stravinsky/RobertCraft 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 ...

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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... the facts.’ The facts have suffered, he believes, from Stravinsky’s own mystifications (he liked to reinvent himself with every press interview) and those of his friend, the conductor and writer RobertCraft, 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 ...
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 RobertCraft’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 ...

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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... should have fought shy of close involvement with such a man as Schoenberg except through the channel of an intermediary. (This surely was one function of his friendship with the ardent Schoenbergian RobertCraft – 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 ...

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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... achievements of Ravel’s composing career.’ Some would question this judgment; others would accept it, sadly, as a back-handed assessment of the other achievements. Nichols quotes with disapproval RobertCraft 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 ...

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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... spent at Kitty Hawk shows their progress to have been marked, like so many technological breakthroughs, 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 ...

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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... the trivial with the catastrophic, the cooks on HMS Sheffield deserve a place, killed while 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 ...
17 July 1980
Imagining America 
by Peter Conrad.
Routledge, 319 pp., £7.50, May 1980, 0 7100 0370 6
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... perhaps, from his friends. But in recoil one might have the pleasure of recollecting the many affectionate and admiring and funny reminiscences by Auden’s friends, notably in the Conversations of RobertCraft 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 ...

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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... when it has to be put into practice. In a way, it might make an epitaph: ‘the best was always 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 ...

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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... of The Spire, is surely right about the importance for that novel of a particular place, Salisbury, 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 ...

Magical Orange Grove

Anne Diebel: Lowell falls in love again

10 August 2016
Robert​ Lowell in Love 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Massachusetts, 288 pp., £36.50, December 2015, 978 1 62534 186 0
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... In the summer​ of 1935, when he was 18, Robert Lowell and two friends from St Mark’s School – Blair Clark and Frank Parker – rented a house in Nantucket. Under Lowell’s direction, they studied the Bible (with special attention to the Book ...

Two Voices

Seamus Heaney

20 March 1980
The New Cratylus 
by A.D. Hope.
Oxford, 179 pp., £12.75, November 1979, 9780195505764
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... form, however, the whole thing can go donnish and sedate. Nearly all poems originate in the pre-literate parts of the mind, yet as they emerge from that promising condition where they are still, in Robert Frost’s words, ‘a lump in the throat, a homesickness, a lovesickness’, they depend for safe passage not only upon instinctive tacts but upon literary awarenesses, upon an ear that is more or ...
28 November 2002
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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... in the United States and even casual mention of the Soviet Union was enough to throw him into a rage. But when he finally returned to Russia for a visit in 1962, accompanied by the American conductor RobertCraft, 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 ...

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