Hesperus, the evening star

It should have been an icon, but – though it may seem something of a cultural mismatch (and a measure of my irretrievably muddled intellect(??)) – the stained glass of Chartres (it’s the South Transept you see above) and Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil (aka Vespers) seem to have an active stillness and a numinous quality […]

Requiem: Requiescat in pace?

Unusually, it’s the pace (peace) word that’s predominant in Fauré’s setting of the Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. Many composers – Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, to name but the most famous – seem to have taken a certain grisly and theatrical delight in portraying the terrors of the Day of Judgement as depicted in the […]

The end of days

John Martin’s terrifying vision of the apocalypse has several musical equivalents. Apart from the many settings of the Requiem Mass’s Dies irae (think Berlioz, think Verdi), there are two famous musical Judgement Days that are the work of composers very much associated with Vienna: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony (Symphony No. 2 in c) and Franz Schmidt’s […]

Dying to conduct?

The history of conducting is full of fascinating events and anecdotes. But, strangely – given their sometimes rather(??) fraught relationship with orchestras – not many people have died of injuries sustained while conducting; I can only think of one,  Jean-Baptiste Lully (that’s him below) In Lully’s time (he was the court musician/dancing master to the Sun King, […]

A worthy wyght

Goe Nightly Cares: Fretwork, Michael Chance, Christopher Wilson, Elizabeth Liddle …Tallis is dead, and Music dies… This is part of Byrd’s Ye Sacred Muses, a lament on the death of his mentor, friend, colleague and the godfather of his son Thomas (no doubt called after his illustrious namesake). Many of the details of Tallis’s life are obscure. He seems to […]