Sunday, 28 February 2010

Happy Birthday Gioachino!

Well it is almost his birthday.
Rossini is one of those unfortunate prople being born on a February 29 gets a birthday only every leap year. So he only had 19 birthdays in his lifetime.
Anyway, to celebrate I have put a Rossini video of the week on the home page of It is animated version of The Thieving Magpie by the wonderful Italian artists Gianini and Luzzati. Superb!

Gesualdo - Renaissance composer and murderer

The latest addition to my site is Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa - a composer, lutenist and nobleman of 16th century Italy.
Thanks to my printmaking tutor and mentor Frank Connelly of Morley College. He kept nagging me to do Gesualdo (whom I had never heard of!) . He is better known for having murdered his first wife who he caught in delicto flagrante with her lover - another young Italian prince. He murdered him too - and there is more.
It is a great story. Bernardo Bertolucci is said have it on his 'to do' list with Joseph Fiennes as Gesualdo. If anyone has any information about it please let me know.
Anyway I'm quite pleased with my print. You can read more about dear Carlo at

more at Zazzle .

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Happy Birthday George!!

Happy Birthday to George Frideric Handel.
Last year was the 250th anniversary of his death and there were numerous celebrations everywhere.

Handel and Bach were born less than a month apart and less than 80 miles apart, yet they never met although they both new and admired each others music.

Another odd coincidence is that both in later life were treated for failing eyesight by a quack English eye surgeon, John Taylor. Both operations were botched and indeed Bach died probably as a result of Taylor's incompetence.
Taylor himself eventually went blind.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Music Instinct

The Music Instinct - how music works and why we can't do without it - by Philip Ball
Our friend Philip has come out with yet another superb book. This one about music.
On Tuesday we went to the Royal Institution where he was lecturing on the subject of his book and very fascinating it was too.
The lecture hall and gallery were sold out and we ended up sitting on the steps as we were a bit late. Anyway I managed to catch up with what we had missed by listening to the audio recording which is conveniently included on the Royal Institution website

There are more great reviews in today's papers. Here are a couple:

The Independent on Sunday

The Observer

Philip is repeating the lecture at the Royal Institution on 27 February.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Mahler and the Grammies

Congratulations to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and of course to Gustav Mahler for winning 3 Grammies at last Sunday's awards:
- Best Classical Album,
- Best Choral Performance, and
- Best Engineered Classical Album
The album is Mahler: Symphony # 8

This is the seventh Grammy won by the SFS and Tilson's cycle of Mahler symphonies.

Other 'Best Orchestral Performance' Grammies won by Mahler were:
2007 - 7th Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas - San Francisco Symphony
2004 - 3rd Symphony - Pier Boulez - Vienna Philharmonic
2003 - 6th Symphony - Michael Tilson Thomas - San Francisco Symphony
2001 - 10th Symphony - Sir Simon Rattle - Berliner Philharmonic
1999 - 9th Symphony - Piere Boulez - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
1993 - 9th Symphony - Leonard Bernstein - Berlin Philharmonic
1990 - 3rd Symphony - Leonard Bernstein - New York Philharmonic

Monday, 1 February 2010

February composer anniversaries

3/02/1809 Mendelssohn born
13/2/1883 Wagner died
17/2/1653 Corelli born
23/2/1934 Elgar died
23/2/1685 Handel born
27/2/1887 Borodin died
29/2/1792 Rossini born

For a really comprehensive list of February births, deaths and events visit the excellent site