Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The literature on Sergei Diaghilev is already vast, and this year’s centenary of the inauguration of his greatest achievement, the Ballets Russes, is swelling it further. But Sjeng Scheijen’s new biography, elegantly translated from the Dutch by Jane Hedley-Prole and Stephen J Leinbach, is a very useful contribution to the corpus. It doesn’t break startling […]

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High Notes

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

This consistently entertaining and stimulating history of opera gets off to cracking start with a quotation from a doleful letter to The Times written in 1853 by a gentleman identifying himself only as ‘C T’. Although in possession of a ticket for which he had paid the princely sum of seven shillings, he was denied […]

The Exuberant Boy

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The final words written by Benjamin Britten in these extraordinary diaries that he kept almost daily between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five were ‘Energetic if nothing else’. As one follows his progress from reluctant schoolboy – how he hated the ‘abominable hole’, as he described his public school – to successful young composer about […]

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I’ll Be Bach

Posted on by David Gelber

Written by a passionate admirer of Bach and full of insights into the ways in which the recording industry shapes our listening experience, Reinventing Bach offers reflections on how we respond to the past, the music of Bach and the iconic performers who have curated his legacy in the 20th century. ‘So this is a […]

Dancing on the Edge

Posted on by David Gelber

‘What grace coupled with what brutality!’ was Jean Cocteau’s verdict after he first encountered Vaslav Nijinsky – an exclamation which seems an apt epitome of a man whose dancing and choreography revolutionised ballet and created a legend that still smoulders today, nearly a century after he abandoned his art and descended into a black mental […]

Twist & Shout

Posted on by David Gelber

American children are used to being told that something gives adults the ‘creeps’. As a child in Britain before the Second World War, I was often told by grown-ups that I ‘gave them the willies’. It’s the same thing. But I was confused because ‘willy’ was the accepted child euphemism for ‘penis’. Thanks to The […]

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RLF - March