Johannes Brahms, 1877 (Photo: Getty)

Late Brahms is wonderfully crafted - which is why it's so dull

21 November 2015 9:00 am

Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet begins, writes his biographer Jan Swafford, with ‘a gentle, dying-away roulade that raises a veil of autumnal…


I want to put on a concert in Antarctica. Who will help me?

7 November 2015 9:00 am

In this exciting new era of Spectator cruises I have been put in mind of a dream event long in…

On song: Bob Dylan performs at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in 2011; photographers are banned on his current tour

Never again, I told myself last time Bob Dylan was in town

29 October 2015 9:00 am

We were like four hapless contestants on University Challenge. None of us knew the answer. But just like they do…


Why I’m glad my piano teacher spent more time chatting than teaching

17 October 2015 8:00 am

At the entrance to Marylebone railway station is an old piano that anyone can play. Unfortunately, whoever had this sweet…

Clara Schumann

There's a good reason why there are no great female composers

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Last week a 17-year-old girl forced the Edexcel exam board to change its A-level music syllabus to include the work…

Michael Tilson Thomas (Photo: Getty)

Orchestral conductors would be much better if they tried performing Renaissance music

5 September 2015 9:00 am

To be honest, my friendship with Michael Tilson Thomas hasn’t gone quite as I had hoped. It started in February…

Magic in the air: Berlin Comic Opera’s exuberant ‘Magic Flute’ at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre

The Magic Flute has never made more cartoonish sense - an Edinburgh Festival roundup

5 September 2015 9:00 am

London may cry foul over Hamlet’s misplaced to-be-ing and not-to-be-ing but Edinburgh is in raptures over a Magic Flute which…

Russian virtuoso pianist Jascha Spivakovsky, 1920 (Photo: Getty)

Jascha Spivakovsky: the great lost pianist we can finally hear

22 August 2015 9:00 am

William Kapell was an American concert pianist with the looks of a male model and the fingers of a wizard.…

Ruben Gonzalez (Photo: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty)

The band that nearly saved the Cuban revolution

8 August 2015 9:00 am

By chance, my first night in Havana in 1987 was the night the clubs went dark to mark the death…

After countless hours of secret discussion the successor to Simon Rattle was announced as Krill Petrenko (Photo: Getty)

Why are symphony orchestras expected to survive indefinitely?

1 August 2015 9:00 am

Watching the Berlin Philharmonic going into conclave to choose a successor to Simon Rattle — after countless hours of secret…

Disc jockey Anne Nightingale, 1964 (Photo: Getty)

Compiling my greatest hits (and my Twitter trolls')

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Compilation schompilation. Having been in music for as long as I have you would think I had a good idea…

After coming forth in the Tchaikovsky competition, Lucas Debargue is the only competitor anyone is talking about

The real winner in the Tchaikovsky competition is the man who came last

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Lucas Debargue, a 24-year-old French pianist, came fourth in the finale of the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow on 30 June,…


New works at the Proms that some would rather dernière than première

11 July 2015 9:00 am

This year the Proms are to stage 21 world premières and 11 European, UK or London premières. It is good…

Patti Smith introduces the Dalai Lama to the crowd (Photo: Getty)

Michael Eavis has brought more joy to more people than almost any Englishman alive

4 July 2015 9:00 am

I had meant to write a dispassionate account of this year’s Glastonbury, really I had. But I’m afraid my plans…

One of Wilford's most treasured clients Herbert von Karajan. Photo: Getty Images

The most powerful man in classical music

27 June 2015 9:00 am

When Margaret Thatcher imagined perfect power, she thought of the orchestral conductor. ‘She envied me,’ said Herbert von Karajan, ‘that…


Is this the greatest piano work of the 21st century?

20 June 2015 9:00 am

The award of a knighthood to the composer James MacMillan will have ruined last weekend for lots of unsavoury people:…

Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons (Photo: Getty)

A reason to (almost) like Mumford & Sons

13 June 2015 9:00 am

Like a lot of essentially cautious people, I like my music to take some risks, play with fire and damn…

(Photo: Getty)

I fear for this year’s Proms

6 June 2015 9:00 am

As Sepp Blatter has so affectingly remarked, the organisation he formerly headed needs evolution, not revolution. There is a consensus…

How can Stevie Nicks be 67? Is this possible or has Wikipedia made a mistake?

Unutterably thrilling: Fleetwood Mac at the O2 reviewed

6 June 2015 9:00 am

‘I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to get this chance in life,’ said Christine McVie, as the…

Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden  (Photo: Getty)

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

23 May 2015 9:00 am

The morning after the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra failed to elect a music director, I took a call from Bild-Zeitung, Berlin’s…

And then there were four: One Direction (Photo: Getty)

If One Direction lost one more member, would they be quorate?

9 May 2015 9:00 am

Where were you when you heard that Zayn Malik had left One Direction? No, me neither, but as my teenage…

Peter Phillips. Photo: Valerie Batselaere

The Tallis Scholars puke their way across the Americas

2 May 2015 9:00 am

Tours that start in Mexico have a nasty habit of repeating on one. Of all the British groups touring in…

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Getty)

Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

18 April 2015 9:00 am

Daniel Barenboim is back in town: the South Bank is mounting a ‘Barenboim Project 2015’ in which he’s playing the…

Chris Rainbow fan: DJ Kenny Everett Photo: Getty

The golden age of pop has been replaced by the golden age of pop obituaries

11 April 2015 9:00 am

The golden age of pop music may be long gone, but the golden age of pop musicians’ obituaries is definitely…

Written by Mrs Bach: Anna Magdelena Bach Photo: BBC

Our hero worship of Bach is to blame for rubbish like ‘Written By Mrs Bach’

4 April 2015 8:00 am

My impression that Bach has come to rival Shakespeare as a flawless reference point in the cultural life of the…