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A Single Crash of the Cymbals

Roger Parker, 7 December 1989

Franz Liszt. Vol. II: The Weimar Years 1848-1861 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 626 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 571 15322 4
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Franz Liszt: A Chronicle of his Life in Pictures and Documents 
by Ernst Burger, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Princeton, 358 pp., £45, October 1989, 0 691 09133 1
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... is at times rather bland, but the documents reproduced (the lengthy ones with translations by Stewart Spencer) are well chosen to illustrate the man and his aesthetic attitudes. The goal of the book, Alfred Brendel says in his Foreword, is to allow readers ‘to paint their own portrait of Liszt’. It is, of course, an illusory goal, since no amount ...

Impervious to Draughts

Rosemary Hill: Das englische Haus, 22 May 2008

The English House 
by Hermann Muthesius, edited by Dennis Sharp, translated by Janet Seligman and Stewart Spencer.
Frances Lincoln, 699 pp., £125, June 2007, 978 0 7112 2688 3
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... his entirety. Frances Lincoln has produced a beautiful typographic facsimile of the original and Stewart Spencer has continued the late Janet Seligman’s translation with equal skill, to a standard far higher than many more overtly literary books receive. The totality, however, makes for salutary as well as poignant reading. Why, Muthesius wonders, do ...

The Innocence Campaign

Isabel Hull: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’, 2 February 2017

‘Lusitania’: The Cultural History of a Catastrophe 
by Willi Jasper, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 233 pp., £18.99, September 2016, 978 0 300 22138 1
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... to adopt a nationally apologetic and, hence, uncritical understanding of German history’. Stewart Spencer’s excellent translation allows Anglophone readers to be privy to a German discussion made necessary partly by historiographical trends currently popular in the English-speaking world. The First World War and Germany’s role in it is far ...
Wagner in Performance 
edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 214 pp., £19.95, July 1992, 0 300 05718 0
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Wagner: Race and Revolution 
by Paul Lawrence Rose.
Faber, 304 pp., £20, June 1992, 9780571164653
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Wagner Handbook 
edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, translated by John Deathridge.
Harvard, 711 pp., £27.50, October 1992, 0 674 94530 1
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Richard Wagner’s Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini’s in Beau-Séjour 
by Edmond Michotte, translated by Herbert Weinstock.
Quartet, 144 pp., £12.95, November 1992, 9780704370319
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... chilling cinematic portrait of her attests. Hitler and Richard Strauss, Toscanini and Houston Stewart Chamberlain came there, as well as a whole host of lesser figures, sycophants, geniuses, philosophers, charlatans, and professional Wagnerians of every stripe and calibre.One says all this about the bewildering richness of Wagner’s legacy with an eye on ...

All the Necessary Attributes

Stephen Walsh: Franz Liszt, Celebrity, 22 September 2016

Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 353 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 300 18293 4
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... Who​ was the most important 19th-century composer? Naturally, it depends on what’s meant by important: Beethoven overshadows them all, but Wagner generated more discussion, and more distaste. Few people would nominate Franz Liszt, because it’s usual to confuse importance with quality. Liszt was probably not the greatest composer of his time, yet his presence was everywhere in musical life from the moment that he arrived in Paris as a 12-year-old prodigy in December 1823 until his death in Bayreuth 63 years later ...

After the Wars

Adam Tooze: Schäuble’s Realm, 19 November 2015

The Age of Catastrophe: A History of the West 1914-45 
by Heinrich August Winkler, translated by Stewart Spencer.
Yale, 968 pp., £35, September 2015, 978 0 300 20489 6
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... Wolfgang Schäuble​ can’t have expected an easy ride when he moved from Germany’s Interior Ministry to its Finance Ministry on 28 October 2009. Angela Merkel’s new coalition with the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the free market Liberals, was committed to reducing the government deficit. That summer the preceding Grand Coalition – the name for a coalition involving Germany’s two largest parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) – had made use of its large majority to write a self-denying debt brake into the German constitution ...

‘Mmmmm’ not ‘Hmmm’

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 11 September 2003

Kate Remembered 
by A. Scott Berg.
Simon and Schuster, 318 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 7432 0676 2
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... that The Philadelphia Story is Berg’s favourite Hepburn film. He is, in a way, playing James Stewart playing the admiring reporter, and at one point Hepburn introduces him to members of her family as her biographer. Berg says, ‘Whoa,’ because at that point he was only writing an article about her for Esquire (and indeed he says that even Kate ...

Alan Bennett chooses four paintings for schools

Alan Bennett: Studying the Form, 2 April 1998

... choice, Hambletonian, Rubbing Down, by George Stubbs, was painted in 1800. It hangs at Mount Stewart, a National Trust property in Northern Ireland. Hambletonian was one of a string of racehorses belonging to Sir Henry Vane Tempest, a landowner from County Durham. Having already won some important races, the horse was matched at Newmarket in 1799 against ...

Their Way

Jose Harris: On the Origin of Altruism, 12 March 2009

The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... still tacitly or explicitly acknowledged its intellectual inspiration. Both Darwin and Herbert Spencer, for example, appear to have worked out their own models of biological and social evolution at least in part as a response to Comte’s insistence on the universality of ‘altruism’, co-operation and group solidarity in both the natural and human ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Katharine Hepburn, 5 March 2015

... it rather lumpily, the film is about whether jokes can go too far, and what happens when they do. Spencer Tracy, Hepburn’s partner in this film as in many others, is a great accomplice in the articulation of this worry, but it is on Hepburn’s face, with its multiple ages, that we see most of the action occur. Hepburn and Tracy are married, both are ...

Cleaning up

Simon Schaffer, 1 July 1982

Explaining the Unexplained: Mysteries of the Paranormal 
by Hans Eysenck and Carl Sargent.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 297 78068 9
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Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts 
by R.C. Finucane.
Junction, 292 pp., £13.50, May 1982, 0 86245 043 8
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Hauntings and Apparitions 
by Andrew Mackenzie.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 44051 5
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Beyond the Body: An Investigation of Out-of-the-Body Experiences 
by Susan Blackmore.
Heinemann, 270 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 0 434 07470 5
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... of the electron) and from the distinguished physicists Oliver Lodge and Balfour Stewart. Since then the links between scientific heroes and psychical research have always been close. In his foreword to the two books, by Mackenzie and Blackmore, published to celebrate the Society’s centenary, Brian Inglis recalls the roll of honour among ...

Squealing to Survive

John Lahr: Clancy was here, 19 July 2018

Black Sunset: Hollywood Sex, Lies, Glamour, Betrayal and Raging Egos 
by Clancy Sigal.
Icon, 352 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 1 78578 439 2
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The London Lover: My Weekend that Lasted Thirty Years 
by Clancy Sigal.
Bloomsbury, 274 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 4088 8580 2
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... no doubt that Clancy knows the back lots and the business. For his B-list screenwriting client Stewart Stern, Clancy pulled off a coup by getting him big bucks and a big assignment: Rebel without a Cause. Afterwards, according to Clancy, Jack Warner pushed him against the wall – ‘He positively fire breathes Brut aftershave’ – and tore him off a ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... decay. The litany of names reads like the cast-list of some bizarre Antipodean soap: Allan Stewart, wielder of the pick-axe; Michael Mates, sender of the famous watch; Norman Lamont, evictor (with some help from the tax-payer) of the tenant with too colourful a professional life; Patrick Nicholls, suspected drunk driver; Nicholas Ridley, too loquacious ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... Kretzschmar, a xerox of the kind of burly yet benevolent patron who first booked the Beatles.) As Spencer Leigh remarks in ‘The Beatles on the Reeperbahn’, his essay in The Beatles in Context, ‘Liverpool and Hamburg were of a similar size, populated with proud residents who regarded themselves as somehow separate from the rest of the country. Both ...

I thought you were incredible

Bee Wilson: Elizabeth Taylor’s Magic, 16 November 2023

Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon 
by Kate Andersen Brower.
HarperCollins, 495 pp., £25, December 2022, 978 0 00 843582 0
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... own mixed feelings about film acting. Some movie stars – Ingrid Bergman, say, or James Stewart – are excellent in almost everything they do. Others have glory years interspersed with disappointments. And then there is Taylor. Although technically superb as a film actor, having been schooled since her childhood on the MGM lot, her performances ...

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