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I’ve been writing this blog since 2009, but there still seem to be plenty of interesting topics to mull over. You can subscribe (it’s free) to follow the blog by email – each new post will pop into your inbox.

Another report on the benefits of music

Another report on the benefits of music

On Monday there was a report in The Guardian about the benefits of being involved in music. This time it was, 'Playing a musical instrument or singing is linked to better memory in older age'. To my delight the next paragraph began, 'The piano was especially...

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Concertos from long ago

Concertos from long ago

I was looking through the list of candidates for a concerto competition recently and was struck by the list of pieces they were playing. Mozart (lots), Haydn (several), Beethoven (several), Mendelssohn (several), Schumann (several), Chopin, Brahms (several), Grieg,...

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Mozart piano and violin sonatas download

Mozart piano and violin sonatas download

This week I've been trying to find out what happened to the album of Mozart piano and violin sonatas that the wonderful Viennese violinist Erich Höbarth and I made in 2012. (That's us in the photo.) It was compiled from live recordings of a concert series we performed...

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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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‘Famously opaque world of classical music’

‘Famously opaque world of classical music’

The other day I read a review in The Guardian of a book, 'In Good Hands', by conductor Alice Farnham, about the art and craft of conducting. I haven't read the book, but I was struck by several phrases the reviewer, Caroline Crampton, used when talking about classical...

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Favourite books of 2022

Favourite books of 2022

Last December my blog post about my favourite books of 2021 was quite popular, so here's another round-up of the best books I read in 2022. Once again it turns out that I read over fifty books, but some were re-readings, which either does or doesn't count, depending...

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Christmas cake decorations

Christmas cake decorations

We generally try to make our own decorations for our home-made Christmas cake. We used to attempt traditional scenes of snowmen, sledging, fir trees, snowballs etc. In recent years, after icing the cake, we've switched to making animals out of the leftover icing. Each...

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The fieldfares are back

The fieldfares are back

Every winter at around this time, we see a kind of bird we never see at any other time of the year. Fieldfares, which are large thrushes, arrive from Scandinavia and eat the last of the berries on the rowan tree outside our kitchen window. First we notice that the...

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Signing paperbacks

Signing paperbacks

This week marks the official publication date of the paperback edition of my Yale University Press book The Piano - a History in 100 Pieces, but as usually seems to be the way, copies seem to have been circulating for a while already. At least, at my Cambridge recital...

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Advent at King’s College Chapel

Advent at King’s College Chapel

Last night I attended the Advent Service in the chapel of King's College, Cambridge. The service, which commemorates the events leading up to the birth of Christ, has a simple and irresistible narrative. At the beginning, the chapel is in darkness. Approaching from...

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Paper trail

Paper trail

Last week a friend was showing me how she can call up musical scores on various electronic devices, linking the devices so that she can use whichever best suits her needs at the time. She even had the option of writing in fingerings and expression marks with an...

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Kettle’s Yard recital in Cambridge this month

Kettle’s Yard recital in Cambridge this month

I'm preparing for a solo recital at Kettle's Yard museum in Cambridge on November 24th. Kettle's Yard is a beautiful little museum which began in the 1950s as a personal art collection by Jim Ede, who used his own house as the display venue. It was the first gallery I...

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