All posts in the Music category

Who’s louder, Harpo Marx or Sergei Rachmaninoff?

Have you heard about the musical duel between Harpo Marx and Sergei Rachmaninoff? Craig Brown recounts the story in One on One, his book about extraordinary encounters between famous people. (There’s a reason why I’m writing about this now. I’ll come to that later.) Harpo’s Hollywood retreat In 1931, Harpo Marx had taken an apartment […]

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Stringing Words Together: keeping creativity flowing

Keeping creativity flowing Say what you like about Zoom, but it does help you make things happen quickly. In May, Andy Hayes of the writers’ collective 26 organised a ‘creativity in lockdown’ session with his friend Sam Griffiths. Sam’s a designer who delights in being playful and enjoys turning labels into robots, and cardboard boxes […]

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Nick Drake in Northumberland

A pint of fruit cider and a dish of cockles It’s mid-afternoon on a Wednesday in February and I’m sitting in a village pub by a station a few miles outside Newcastle. A man wearing black jeans and a smart jacket walks in, looks around the silent, almost empty bar, and asks: “Who died?” Then […]

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Royal visit to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

More and more of my work these days is for charities. In the last month, I’ve written an annual report for Help Musicians UK, fundraising materials for The Brooke and a report for The National Trust. But as well as my everyday work as a freelance writer, I also wheel out my harp on occasion […]

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Julie Pickard: drawing the music

If you go to a jazz or free improv gig and see a woman up on stage in amongst the musicians, not playing but drawing, it’s probably Julie Pickard. Julie’s an artist and writer who produces extraordinary expressionist drawings that are a response to her experience of live music. Details of instruments and musicians emerge from the […]

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West meets East: Opera Holland Park comes to Old Street

  Mike Volpe is a true opera aficionado. For nearly 25 years, he’s been General Manager of Opera Holland Park, enthusing a new generation of opera lovers with an eclectic mix of outdoor performances. Although his family comes from the mountains outside Naples, Mike grew up in England. He drinks Italian espresso, but when Chelsea […]

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Soak it in a pond, soak it in the sea

I caught the Stradivarius exhibition at the Ashmolean on the very last day. Had forgotten all about it until the curator, Jon Whiteley, popped up on the Today programme, talking about how people behave in museums. He told the story of someone who came in to show him a violin, convinced it was a very […]

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