Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The joys and challenges of compiling a new organ anthology

Faced with a blank sheet of paper, how does one begin when an invitation is received to compile an anthology of music? Compiling the two recent volumes, Oxford Book of Christmas Organ Music for Manuals and Oxford Book of Lent and Easter Organ Music for Manuals, has been a rewarding journey of musical discovery, which I decided had to begin at Perry Barr in north east Birmingham, on the campus of the University of Central England, at the library of the Royal College of Organists.

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Interpreting a new work by John Rutter

The young violinist Kerson Leong looks back with affection on his preparations for the premiere and subsequent recording of a work by John Rutter. The work, featuring a solo violin part of great lyricism and transparency, was moulded by the composer to fit Leong’s particular playing style.

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Music and touch in Call Me By Your Name

A rich sensuality of touch permeates Luca Guadagnino’s new film Call Me By Your Name, based on André Aciman’s 2007 novel of the same name. This tactile quality comes through not only in its evocative visual imagery: close-ups of hands and fingers and feet, shoulder rubs, sweaty bare skin glistening in the sun, bodies lounging on lush grass or jumping into chilly spring-fed ponds, soft-boiled eggs and ripe fruits bursting with juices, the broken limbs and pitted patina of ancient bronzes.

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Touching hearts: an interview with John Rutter

“You’ve got to have technique: composition is like aircraft design; you can’t just go in and do it without training. You’ll never find your voice if you don’t have the technique to express what you want to say.” One of the most prolific of choral music composers, John Rutter is known throughout the world for music which has sustained choirs for almost half a century. Here he is in dialogue with composer Bob Chilcott.

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Finding ‘the weird’ in psychedelic art

The concepts of altered states and psychedelia creep in to a great deal of visual art. According to Lewis-Williams, some early forms of Palaeolithic rock art may have been shamanic in origin, and represent forms seen during visionary states. 18th Century works such as Fuseli’s The Nightmare (1781) depicted the ‘old hag’ phenomenon, a type of hypnagogic hallucination that is experienced on the threshold of sleep, during which a person feels as though a daemon or other supernatural entity is suffocating them.

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Monteverdi turns 450

The year of 2017 has proved an exciting year for anniversaries. From the quincentennial of Martin Luther’s 95 theses of 1517, or the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 1867, to the centenary of the 1917 Russian revolutions, the historic events commemorated this year call us into celebration as much as they urge us into reflection and contemplation.

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Going back to instrumental lessons

Three existential questions are useful to all of us: “Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going?” The publication of The Integrated String Player got me thinking about these questions in regards to my trajectory as a cellist. I decided to go back to school, so to speak. This is my report.

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Beethoven’s Ninth at the G-20

The world leaders who had gathered in Hamburg, Germany, this summer for the twelfth G-20 summit on 7 July 2017 found an unusual item on their itinerary: a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony.

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Getting high on virtual reality

It’s a chilly November evening, but inside Apiary Studios in East London, things are heating up as the venue gradually fills with people. The atmosphere is electric; everyone is here for the Cyberdelics Incubator, an event aimed at showcasing the latest in psychedelic arts projects using immersive media and techno-wizardry.

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Carols for Choirs: a history

As Christmas draws to a close, so too does the busiest time of year for OUP’s Hire Library. Unsurprisingly, the majority of our most-hired materials this year have come from one of the most authoritative carol collections available to choirs today: the Carols for Choirs series and 100 Carols for Choirs. Whilst many singers are likely to have sung from this book, it is unlikely that many know the story of its conception.

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A composer’s Christmas: David Bednall

“I think that Christmas carols are deeply embedded in our psyche (even if many are not actually that old) and provide a reminder of our childhood, which is why we are drawn to them so powerfully.” We recently caught up with composer David Bednall to find out how he celebrates Christmas traditions, why music is important to people at Christmas time, and the sense of hope that Christmas brings.

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A composer’s Christmas: Malcolm Archer

“Many people believe they have lost the faith they had in childhood, and the magic of Christmas has gone for them. Christmas music has the ability to re-awaken those beliefs and re-kindle that magic.” We spoke with composer Malcolm Archer about the pleasure of driving his 1964 Austin Healey 3000 on crisp December days, the magic of the Christmas story, and spending Christmas in Chicago.

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Hubert Parry (1848-1918)

2018 sees the centenary of the death of Hubert Parry, one of the finest and most influential ­musicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Over the last few months I have had the privilege of making the first critical edition of his late choral masterpiece, the Songs of Farewell, with reference to the autograph manuscripts, held in the Bodleian Library, and a set of early printed versions.

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Ten facts about Panpipes

The panpipes or “pan flute” derives its name from the Greek god Pan, who is often depicted holding the instrument. Panpipes, however, can be found in many parts of the world, including South America, Oceania, Central Europe, and Asia.

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Five favorite “Rainbows”

“Over the Rainbow,” voted the greatest song of the twentieth century in a survey from the year 2000, has been recorded thousands of times since Judy Garland introduced it in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Even the most diehard fans, including myself), are unlikely to have listened to every version.

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Christmas at King’s College, Cambridge

“The Christmas season is something that takes up a lot of head-space here at King’s from quite a long time before October, primarily due to our service on Christmas Eve, the famous ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s.’ Andrew Hammond, Chaplain of King’s College, gives us a behind-the-scenes peak into famous for their annual live broadcast Service of Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve.

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