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Queen Mary

Michael Neve, 20 December 1984

A Darker Shade of Pale: A Backdrop to Bob Dylan 
by Wilfrid Mellers.
Faber, 255 pp., £6.95, November 1984, 0 571 13345 2
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Dylan 
by Jonathan Cott.
Vermilion/Hutchinson, 244 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 09 158750 6
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... to fool. Writing about Dylan, as against listening to him, is not easy and it’s useful to have Wilfrid Mellers’s ‘backdrop’ to Dylan, after his recent offerings, Twilight of the Gods, about the Beatles, Bach and the Dance of God and Beethoven and the Voice of God. For people without musical training, of whom this reviewer is one, the ...

Voice of God

Tim Souster, 21 April 1983

Beethoven and the Voice of God 
by Wilfrid Mellers.
Faber, 453 pp., £20, February 1983, 9780571117185
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... I first became aware of Professor Mellers when he lectured at Worcester College, Oxford in about 1962. The Beatles hadn’t got into the charts by then, so the theme of his lecture was probably Apollo, Dionysus and the Second Viennese School. It was very stimulating. I was particularly struck by the tiny flowered pattern on the tops of his (what I later came to recognise as) boxer shorts, which flashed into view when he gesticulated with particular energy ...

Primeval Bach

Basil Lam, 18 June 1981

Bach and the Dance of God 
by Wilfrid Mellers.
Faber, 324 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 571 11562 4
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... restoration, the work remains the basis of Bach scholarship. It is an odd feature of Professor Mellers’s very odd book that he nowhere mentions Spitta, recourse to whom could have spared him and us many of the numerous errors that litter his pages. (More of this later.) Bach and the Dance of God, we are told, ‘makes explicit as never before the ...

Mrs Schumann’s Profession

Denis Arnold, 22 May 1986

The Cambridge Music Guide 
edited by Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham.
Cambridge, 544 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 521 25946 0
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Tudor Music 
by David Wulstan.
Dent, 378 pp., £20, October 1985, 0 460 04412 5
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The Music Profession in Britain since the 18th Century: A Social History 
by Cyril Ehrlich.
Oxford, 269 pp., £22.50, January 1986, 0 19 822665 9
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Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman 
by Nancy Reich.
Gollancz, 346 pp., £15.95, October 1985, 0 575 03755 5
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Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist 
by Sheila Hodges.
Granada, 274 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 246 12001 0
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... Century’. His next chapter on ‘Modern Times’ allows him to depart from the method, but even Wilfrid Mellers on ‘The Traditions of Popular Music’ proceeds largely from person to person. The trouble with this method is that the composer is rarely set against his background, the chosen works for listening are only loosely typical (why they are ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... its contributors for the Penguin Guide to English Literature. Few friends, however loyal, escaped. Wilfrid Mellers, H.A. Mason and others all fell foul of him in one way or another. As to his enemies, the Lucases and Houghs and Tillyards, they could hardly be said to have betrayed him: they did the work of the devil in other ways. The relationship with ...

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