It’s a cartoon image from my childhood: a man with wild hair, wearing a topcoat, and frantically waving a baton with a deranged look on his face. In fact, this caricature of what a composer should look like was probably inspired by the popular image of Beethoven: moody, distant, a loner… a genius lost in his own world.
Celebrating their 120th birthday this year, the BBC Promenade Concerts – universally known as “The Proms” – rank as the world’s biggest classical music festival. With 76 concerts, running from July to September, of which the vast majority focus on classical music, not only do the events reach a sizeable audience live in London’s Royal Albert Hall, or for the earlier daytime concerts, the Cadogan Hall, but there’s a much bigger audience for the nightly live broadcasts on BBC radio and for the highlights on television.
The San Francisco Opera has undertaken the enormous challenge of mounting Berlioz’s The Trojans. It consists of two complete operas, The Capture of Troy and The Trojans at Carthage. They are being performed together, which is most unusual, but is how Berlioz envisioned it. The forces involved are enormous. In this production there are 72 instrumentalists in the pit and 23 backstage including 4 trumpets.
Fifty years ago during their North American tour, The Beatles played to the largest audience in their career against the backdrop of a nation shattering along economic, ethnic, and political lines. Although on the surface the events of August 1965 would seem unconnected, they nevertheless illustrate how the world was changing and how music reflected that chaotic cultural evolution.
Now’s the moment to be a fan of the Bond songs. SPECTRE, the new film, comes out this November. That means we’ll hear an official unofficial leak of the title song sometime this summer. Everybody’s been guessing who the singer is. Twitter says it’ll be Sam Smith or Lana Del Rey. Sam Smith says it isn’t him and claims that he “heard Ellie Goulding was going to do it.” The Telegraph wants to know why no one has considered Mumford and Sons (don’t answer that). Even Vegas is paying attention. Who would you put your money on?
An audible silence lingers in the field and fieldwork of ethnomusicology. Queer subjects and topics have made few appearances in the literature to date. Such paucity doesn’t owe to an absence of LGBTQ-identified members and allies; by and large, ethnomusicologists are as fabulous and open-minded as scholars come. So why has queer ethnomusicology arrived late to the party?
It’s that time of year again! Summer concerts are warming up and festivals are in full swing. Cities around the world are putting on some of the best shows for locals and tourists to enjoy. Check out what concerts Oxford University Press employees love attending every year. You just might stumble upon your new favorite band.
Seventy-five years ago folk singer Woody Guthrie penned the initial lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land,” considered by many to be the alternative national anthem. Sung in elementary schools, children’s summer camps, around campfires, at rallies, and during concert encores, “This Land Is Your Land” is the archetypal sing-along song, familiar to generations of Americans. But what most do not know is that Guthrie, the “Oklahoma Cowboy,” actually wrote the song in New York and that its production and dissemination were shaped by the city’s cultural institutions.
Imagine the unimaginable. Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the person with whom you shared most of your life has forgotten who you are, and even worse, can no longer remember their own experiences, their relationships, and how to behave appropriately in everyday situations. But although most of their long-term memory is heavily impaired, they may continue to relate astonishingly well to autobiographically relevant pieces of music.
Fifty years ago, at the height of the British Invasion, The Yardbirds released “Heart Full of Soul” (28 May 1965) and The Kinks, “See My Friends” (30 July 1965). Both attempted to evoke something exotic, mysterious, and distinctly different from the flood of productions competing for consumer attention that summer. Drawing on Britain’s long fascination with “The Orient,” these recordings started sixties British pop down a path that proved both rewarding and problematic.
How The Light Gets In (named, aptly, in honour of a Leonard Cohen song) has taken the festival world by storm with its yearly celebration of philosophy and music. We spoke to founder and festival organiser Hilary Lawson, who is a full-time philosopher, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, and someone with lots to say about keepings things equal and organising a great party.
Many, perhaps most people listen to music with the hope that it permits them to step outside of the world as it usually is, the demands it places on us and the ugliness that so obviously mars it. People gravitate to music’s bright melodies, infectious rhythms, and perhaps especially to lyrics that, whether Beethoven’s or Beyoncé’s, give us some kind of life-raft or a phrase that clarifies our condition.
In celebration of The BBC Proms 120th anniversary we have created a comprehensive reading list of books, journals, and online resources that celebrate the eight- week British summer season of orchestral music, live performances, and late-night music and poetry.
Although often overlooked, the piccolo is an important part of the woodwind instrument family. This high-pitched petite woodwind packs a huge punch. Historically, the piccolo had no keys and was an instrument of its own kind.
On the Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate Independence Day at picnics, concerts, fireworks displays, and gatherings of many kinds, and they almost always sing. “America the Beautiful” will be popular, and so will “Our County, ’Tis of Thee” and of course the national anthem, “Star-Spangled Banner” (despite its notoriously unsingable tune). The words are so familiar that, really, no one pays attention to their meaning. But read them closely and be surprised how the lyrics describe the meaning of America in three very different ways.
Celebrate the end of Black Music Month with this timeline highlighting over 100 years of music created and produced by influential African-Americans. Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea for Black Music Month back in 1979 as a way to annually show appreciate for black music icons. After lobbying, President Jimmy Carter hosted a reception to formally recognize the month.