Keeping up with the Haydns

There’s something frightening about the string quartet. It’s the tradition, I suppose – Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert all poured some of their best and most profound music into the medium, and that makes the standard for the young, aspiring composer pretty high(!!). So, when the thirty-or-so year old Debussy came to tackle a quartet, he […]

Elizabeth Maconchy

“one of the most substantial composers these islands have yet produced.” Martin Anderson, The Independent Need convincing? Listen to this… Also, this week, a chance to explore the Four Ritual Dances from Tippett’s opera The Midsummer Marriage: Earth in Autumn, Waters in Winter, Air in Spring Fire in Summer Course materials: Elizabeth Maconchy Cycle of […]

Les six

When the Russians (Stravinsky, Prokofiev) got too famous and so too expensive, Diaghilev commissioned his new ballets from the younger – and therefore cheaper – generation of French composers. A group of young musicians had formed around the wonderfully eccentric figure of Erik Satie. Originally named (by Satie)  Les Nouveaux Jeunes they soon became known as […]

El sombrero de tres picos

… or The Three-Cornered Hat, if you’d prefer. Given its roots in Spanish folk music, in flamenco and its cante jondo [deep song], it’s rather surprising to discover that the first complete performance of Manuel de Falla’s ballet was given in the Alhambra Theatre in London. The reason? Between 1918 and 1922 – in the […]

Vox pop? Satie’s Parade

Another scandal! I’ll let Claude Samuel and the co-author of Parade, Jean Cocteau explain… Course materials: Daphnis et Chloé, Part 1 Daphnis et Chloé, Part 2 Lydian Cycle of 5ths Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as “fair use/dealing”, for the purpose of study, and critical analysis only, and will be removed at […]

L’Après-midi d’un faune and Le spectre de la rose

The 1911–1912 seasons of the Ballets Russes saw the premiers of two of the twentieth century’s greatest scores — Stravinsky’s Petroushka and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. But, while Petroushka was a great success and (for non-musical reasons) the Ravel considerably less so, it was two smaller works that seemed most to capture the public imagination in […]