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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Johnny had Parkinson’s…and music helped him walk

One day we stumbled upon something that would end up helping Johnny on this twice daily haul. Given our shared history as musicians, it’ll come as no surprise that Johnny and I often talked about music. As Johnny was prepping to take the first step, we joked about singing a march so he could march his way down the hall. It was Johnny’s idea to use Sousa’s Stars and Stripes, a march he liked.

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Ellington’s A Drum Is a Woman turns 60

Recent research on African-American jazz icon Duke Ellington (1899-1974) has increasingly focused on the composer-pianist-bandleader’s post-World War II achievements: a torrent of creativity across film, theater, and dance perhaps unrivaled in American music. But the unleashing of Ellington’s “late career” genius was not a foregone conclusion. It would take an ambitious — if not a […]

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Helping small amateur choirs to survive and flourish

Many small choral groups struggle with a range of problems such as ageing choruses, dwindling membership and audience, unsuitable repertoire, a recently retired musical director, poor finances, weak administrative infrastructure, and inadequate publicity. Simon Ible reflects on how to revitalize your choir.

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A choice of St. John Passions

This is the time of year at which you are most likely to hear J. S. Bach’s St. John Passion, which tends to be performed in accordance with the Christian liturgical calendar even when it is programmed in a secular concert.

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Congregational singing in works written for Holy Week

Congregations have historically been limited to singing hymns and worship songs, with supplementary music performed by the choir. In light of this, it is interesting to compare choral works suitable for Holy Week that specifically include music for the congregation.

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Ten facts about the harp

The harp is an ancient instrument found in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and tunings in musical cultures throughout the world. In the West, the harp has been used to accompany singing in religious rituals and court music.

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To ‘Ave’ or to hold: why certain music is banned from the civil marriage ceremony

Why isn’t religious music allowed at a civil marriage ceremony, and what advice is there for couples wanting a choir at their Registry Office ceremony where only non-religious music is permitted? Before civil marriage was introduced on 17 August 1836, couples could only marry legally in a Church of England ceremony. The revolutionary new ‘Act for Marriages in England’ meant that a marriage could take place in any licensed venue (religious or not) with no restrictions on the choice of music.

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A conversation with clarinetist and author Albert Rice

Albert Rice, author of the recently released Notes for Clarinetists sat down with Oxford University Press to answer a few questions about his love for music from an early age, musical influences, and his dedication to research on the history of the clarinet.

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Celebrating Samuel Barber and his Adagio for Strings

Today we celebrate what would have been American composer Samuel Barber’s 107th birthday. Upon the composer’s death in 1981, New York Times music critic Donal Henahan, penned an obituary that asserted “probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim.”

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Bob Dylan’s complicated relationship with fame [excerpt]

Bob Dylan’s playful and at times antagonistic relationship with the press dates back to his early years on the folk scene in New York. When asked about his identity by straight- laced reporters with buzz cuts and sport coats, he frequently answered sarcastically: “a trapeze artist,” “a song and dance man,” “an ashtray bender,” and “a rabbit catcher.”

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