SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Arts
August 29, 2019
Carl Curtis
Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (BBC iPlayer/Amazon Prime/PBS) offers a somewhat unexpected picture of the 1969 rock festival. Its producers wisely chose not to present a bunch of rock acts – the film Woodstock (1970) does that – preferring to go behind the scenes and recount the difficulties in choosing a site and
August 22, 2019
Peter Davison
The composer Gerald Finzi (1901-56) was shy, modest and sensitive. Descended on his father’s side from Italian Jews, the Finzis were otherwise a typical middle-class English family until a series of childhood tragedies contributed to Gerald’s extreme introversion. He lost his father when he was eight, and his three elder brothers died before he had
August 22, 2019
Francis O’Gorman
Melancholy lingers about much of Gerald Finzi’s oeuvre. The sadness of his early life contributed, as did his later ill health. Finzi’s music is often that of sorrow though, and as this magnificent new disc reminds us, it also included the heroically celebratory and even buoyantly joyful. Stephen Layton leads one of the best choral
August 15, 2019
Michael White
Christmas came early to Gloucester last week where, on a sultry August day before an audience in summer shirts and sandals, the cathedral gave the premiere of a new Christmas Oratorio – packaged for good measure with Britten’s Ceremony of Carols as part of a concert that will broadcast in December to listeners who’ll have
August 15, 2019
Carl Curtis
Amazon’s Prime’s The Boys (8 episodes) has a contemporary setting, except for its superheroes and the fact that they’re an accepted part of the everyday world. More than merely accepted, they’re celebrities. When one (of seven) retires, their sponsor/owner Vought corporation rolls out the replacement in a televised gala reminiscent of the BBC’s announcement of
August 08, 2019
James Baresel
The writings of Catholic convert Russell Kirk exert no more than a marginal influence outside of limited circles, which is a common cause for lament among the best contemporary American political thinkers and social critics. I share this view. But I would add that at least the accomplishments of the self-described “Bohemian Tory” as a
August 08, 2019
David V Barrett
Buckingham Palace is both a home and an office for the monarch. But before Queen Victoria’s time it was an unloved and fairly rundown building. The 18-year-old Victoria ignored her advisers and moved into Buckingham Palace within weeks of becoming Queen in 1837 – and set about transforming it into the magnificent building it is
August 01, 2019
Peter Davison
In 1860, Gustav Mahler was born into a German-speaking Jewish family in the Bohemian village of Kaliště, then part of the Austrian empire. When, seven years later, Jews gained full citizenship, Mahler’s father Bernard was eager to take full advantage. He projected his ambition upon his musically gifted son who, aged 15, was sent to the
August 01, 2019
Carl Curtis
The opening of Burning Bush has the look of a Sixties teen movie, with grinning kids gyrating to rock ’n’ roll – almost Beach Party without the beach. But the impression doesn’t last as the scene cuts to a caravan of tanks creeping along dimly lit streets and shortly into broad daylight. The kids are
July 25, 2019
Karl Schmude
The Catholic imagination of Christopher Koch, the Australian novelist most remembered for The Year of Living Dangerously (1978), was shaped by two intense experiences. The first was his childhood immersion in the popular Catholic culture in Australia in the first half of the 20th century. Abounding in hints of supernatural mystery and memory, it showed the power of
July 25, 2019
Deal Hudson
The documentary-maker Stephen Edwards’s most distinguished musical work is the score for his Requiem for My Mother (2017). The Requiem was premiered in the Vatican, and his award-winning television documentary, based on the premiere, was broadcast on the PBS network. It’s a breathtaking work, reminiscent of Duruflé but original and memorable. Now Edwards, composer of nearly
July 18, 2019
Jens F Laurson
You think you know Antonín Dvořák’s music quite well when you are aware not just of his greatest hits but also of the fascinating early symphonies and the dear early string quartets. When you know not only the moving Stabat Mater but also the prickly Requiem; and not just the cello concerto but also the
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