Fierce Beauty

Just discovered this stunning performance (and piece of music) via Max Richter’s classical-for-beginners playlist on the Guardian website – that’s beginners in the sense of listening not playing. Bach’s Chaconne, Partita No 2 BWV 1004 (1720), for solo violin, performed by Hilary Hahn. Extraordinarily powerful and beautiful. Listen now.

Is This the Era of the Short Head ?

Have you noticed how winners seem to win ever bigger these days. That one book/film/app/search engine etc. takes a mega-portion of the market, leaving all the rest fighting over a tiny slice of the cake? Well, there’s a theory for this: the short head. In the 10 rules of the short head, Dan Chen provides […]

The St James Infirmary Blues

Folk songs, memes, and going viral It’s been a long road down but I hope I’m finally and decisively on the way back up and I won’t be playing the pneumonia blues no more. However I have been playing the St James Infirmary Blues and what a great song it is. You can play it […]

Are you ready?

One for rock trivia fans: “Everybody seems to be ready. Are you ready?” Mick Jagger, Madison Square Gardens, November 1969 (only two weeks before Altamont, or so I read on Amazon).  ‘Get Yer Ya Yas Out’. “Are you ready? Is everybody ready?” Leonard Cohen, Isle of Wight, August 31 1970.  ‘Leonard Cohen Live at The Isle […]

Being You

I was listening to Tom Waits version of ‘Somewhere‘ (on ‘Blue Valentine’) and remembering Leonard Bernstein, in the documentary of the 1984 recording of West Side Story (the first time he conducted his own music, incidentally), tearing his hair out because Jose Carreras (playing Tony) just couldn’t help but keep slipping back into perfect pronunciation, […]


Jahrhunderttalent. Another beautiful German word to follow on from ‘Heimweh’ (see Primo Levi below). In her long article for Intelligent Life magazine Clemency Burton-Hill quotes the music executive Deborah Borda on first seeing Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel in performance – “The Germans have a word for it: Jahrhunderttalent. Once in a hundred years. That was my […]

Exile’s Letter

I was reading ‘My Heroin Christmas’, one of the essays in Terry Castle’s excellent The Professor and Other Writings, and an aside took me to this astonishingly beautiful poem by Ezra Pound, a ‘translation’ from the Chinese of Li Po. Widely considered the greatest poet of China, Li Po wrote the poem in about 760 […]

Kisses on the bottom

English is such a rich language for ambiguities that you can have almost as much fun trying to write a sentence that cannot be misunderstood, as writing lines that deliberately exploit a play on words. And characteristically, the way we most commonly describe a play on words is ‘double entendre’ which, of course, is not […]

If you’re not living on the edge,

you’re taking up too much space!’ (Unknown). My take-away from the excellent presentation by Dr Dave (Richards, of Bournemouth University) who spoke at the South Coast Connections networking event earlier in the week. He was speaking on innovation, defining the innovative as that which adds new value – though he was careful to emphasise that […]

Helen Yorke recital, May 30th in Dorchester

I have mentioned Helen Yorke’s recitals a while ago in this blog and am pleased to say she has another, larger event coming up, this time at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester on May 30th. Here she will be accompanied by Tom Randle, tenor. They will play music by Bernstein (excerpts from West Side […]

Keith Richards

There is a fabulous photo of Keith Richards in today’s Guardian, which has the most beautiful colours and which gives a real sense of the journey, written in his time-worn, uncompromising features, from young blues enthusiast to old bluesman. The picture of a rock ‘n’ roller who tracked the history of the music to its […]

It is written

I’m still buzzing from seeing Slumdog Millionaire at the weekend. A stunning film pulsating with life, brilliant colour, sadness and joy. It’s beautifully shot and well worth seeing on the big screen. We were right up at the front, in the second row (by chance rather than design), and – once the eyes had adjusted! […]

Helen Yorke

Internationally acclaimed pianist Helen Yorke is giving another series of recitals at her home in Dorchester (Dorset, England) later this week – on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 20th, 21st and 22nd November, starting at 7pm. The programme will include some Bach, Schumann and Rodrigo. Helen’s recitals offer a rare opportunity to listen to a world […]