The Firs – Elgar’s Birthplace

The Firs - Edward Elgar's birthplace

A big city is a wonderful thing, particularly when it comes to music and culture. But sometimes, you just really need a bit of fresh air and countryside. I was feeling like that this August during a slightly tumultuous summer, and it seems that Elgar’s mother felt the same when she moved the Elgar family out of Worcester to Broadheath, to escape to the country in the mid 19th-century. Continue reading

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Beethoven’s footsteps around Prague

IMG_9772 edThe things that never fails to surprise me is how close so many central European cities are to each other, and how many composers ghosts can be found in every one of them. There were so many reasons for them to travel about, whether it was teaching, studying, or making money from touring. Prague had a reputation for keen and enthusiastic audiences. Beethoven visited Prague six times between 1796 and 1812, mainly to perform. He premiered his First Piano Concerto in Prague in 1798.  Continue reading

Summer opera: Nevill Holt Opera

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Summer festival season is nearly over, and that means it’s time to admit that I might only make it to one summer opera this year. I’d hoped for a second but a frenetic summer work schedule took over. And unfortunately, my friend took me to Nevill Holt Opera back in June on a day that didn’t feel very summery. Continue reading

Being rude about new music isn’t new

Watching the First Night of this year’s Proms, I saw quite a lot of disparaging comments about Zosha Dicastri’s new work, ‘Long Is the Journey – Short Is the Memory’.

I read tweets calling it “actively unpleasant”, “ghastly” and “absolute tosh”. I can’t say I agreed with the comments, and I guess one of the problems with Twitter is it’s full of people trying to be hilarious and original. It kind of riled me, until I remembered that countless works throughout the centuries have had a similar reception… Continue reading

Ron Howard’s Pavarotti

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Even outside the world of classical music, Pavarotti’s name in renowned. I can’t say I remember seeing the Three Tenors concert for Italia ’90 but I feel almost certain that my football-loving-music-loving Dad would’ve been watching it in our living room on our boxy TV. I think it’s fair to say that concert introduced millions, including my Dad, to the amazing world of opera. This week, Ron Howard’s Pavarotti film is released, and I saw it yesterday with a fellow opera-lover – I hadn’t been keen because someone I knew had seen it and not spoken very highly of it, but I went along for the fun, and because I wanted to be in an air-conditioned room on a muggy July day! Continue reading

Barbican Centre, London

Barbican-Centre-London-915pxI’m going to have a pretty London-centric summer this year (I’ll be working a lot in South Kensington, and I guess I’ve already had more than my fair share of adventures so far this year) and it was getting me down a little that I might not be seeing any new exciting places for a few months. But then I remembered that actually there’s quite a lot of great cultural places here in London that I haven’t written about yet, and have been taking a little for granted. So I think it’s about time I reminded myself just how lucky I am, and just how much I love going to the Barbican. Continue reading

Calling for Carl – Cycling to Nielsen places in Copenhagen

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My friend Eli has recently embarked on a fantastic, envy-inducing adventure and moved to Copenhagen for 6 months. Her and her husband have taken the chance to move to a new city, learn a new language and experience a different culture. You can read about her adventures on her blog, Living Danish-Eli (and if you look closely you might be able to spot me). Their whole adventure has given me a lot to think about, but first of all I had to think about that I wanted to do when I went to visit them this spring. Continue reading