'Daily Life' Blog Post Archive
My old friend Gerald

My old friend Gerald

This weekend I heard that my old friend Gerald Pointon had died. I felt like writing this little reminiscence. Gerald was a high-powered lawyer in Paris, specialising in arbitration. As a graduate student at Cambridge University he had sung in the famous choir of...

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Posing on the steps of the Opera

Posing on the steps of the Opera

Last week I was in Vienna for a few days of Easter holiday.  We managed to pack in lots of music-related things: a concert at the Musikverein, an evening at the State Opera, a visit to one of Mozart's apartments, a visit to Haydn's house in what was the village of...

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Channel 4’s ‘The Piano’

Channel 4’s ‘The Piano’

I've been watching Channel 4's new series, 'The Piano', in which amateur piano-playing members of the public put themselves forward to come and play an upright piano in the foyer of one of Britain's main railway stations. Unknown to them, watching behind the scenes...

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‘The noblest prospect …’

‘The noblest prospect …’

I've been quiet lately because I've been busy moving house (see scary picture of my grand piano being hauled through the window). After living in London since leaving university, Bob and I have moved to my home town of Edinburgh. To my surprise my return was mentioned...

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Plain vs mysterious music

I've just been in Italy, where as usual I tried to discover if there were any churches where one could hear some live sacred music on a Sunday, and once again was told that there is no longer any real tradition of church music performance in Italy, except for the...

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Luxury

A young musician friend has been telling me about a fully-funded chamber music group based in Denmark. Each member of the group, which is supported by the Danish Government to expand the reach of chamber music across the country, is paid a full salary and has...

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A passion for communication

I've been clearing out old boxes of letters dating from student days. In these days of email and texts, when most messages are brief and casual, it's amazing to sort through these handwritten letters. I'm struck by what a passion for communication we had. Whenever my...

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Learning from snowsports

I've been taking sneaky breaks from other tasks to watch the Winter Olympics from Sochi. This is partly in homage to my Dad, a keen skater, who imparted to the wider family a love of figure skating and ice dancing which still gets us gathering round televisions...

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Boxes of unsold records

Went to see the new Coen Brothers' film, Inside Llewyn Davis, the tale of a moderately successful American folk singer in 1961, on the cusp of the Bob Dylan era. After the death of his duo partner, Llewyn is trying to make it in Greenwich Village as a solo artist. The...

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Lecturing at Deptford Town Hall

Lecturing at Deptford Town Hall

Here I am, lecturing to the British Comparative Literature Association yesterday. At Deptford Town Hall! Who would have expected such a grand Victorian building, with a beautifully ornate staircase, and an excellent Steinway concert grand piano in the Council Chamber?...

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A mention in the New York Times

A mention in the New York Times

Friends in America have alerted me to an interesting article in the New York Times of 31 December 2013: 'Maestro at Work: Hold That Cough'. Written by NY Times music critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, it's about the tickly - sorry, tricky - issue of coughing in...

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Happy New Year – and e-book news

Happy New Year to readers of this blog - and thank you for sticking with me. It is lovely to know that somewhere out there is a circle of readers. Quite a wide circle, geographically. Visualising that circle definitely helps to combat the feeling of isolation to which...

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The man in the street

Yesterday I listened to a BBC Radio 4 programme about Henry Cole, the founder of the splendid V&A Museum in South Kensington. They were talking to a curator of the David Bowie exhibition, one of the most successful of the V&A's recent exhibitions. The curator...

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Vocabulary

The BBC2 series 'Masterchef' has come to an end with Steven Edwards winning the title. One of the competitors' final tasks was to cook for a roomful of distinguished chefs, well known from Michelin-starred restaurants around the UK. This is always a fascinating event,...

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Piano practice and neighbours

Several people including a lawyer have sent me a link to yesterday's BBC news story about a pianist in Spain whose neighbour took her to court over her piano practising, alleging 'psychological harm' from having to listen to it. Spanish prosecutors had initially...

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