Christmas Music

Happy holidays, everyone, and happy New Year. Hope you’ve all been having a good and restful time. One highlight of my holiday was a Christmas dinner we gave for 15 assorted family members, featuring a 20-pound roast beef, which was so big we couldn’t fit it in our refrigerator. Had to put it outside in the cold, but not on our deck, because animals might eat it, or on our porch, because birds might get it (turkey vultures or crows). So we put it in our car. One feature of Christmas, of course—one unavoidable feature—is Christmas music, which … [Read more...]

Best holiday wishes!

And apologies to everyone who looked for the fourth episode of my book, and didn't find it. Or, for that matter, who looked for new posts on this blog. I'll have one tomorrow, Thursday, December 23. And then I'll very likely take some time off for Christmas. The episode was delayed for many reasons, among them overwork, illness, and a really bad computer problem. All of which sounds worse than it was! I'll resume the book on January 9, and blogwise, there's plenty to talk about. Not long ago I spent a day leading conversations with a group of … [Read more...]

Not playing well enough — an example of what I mean

Last night I heard a Haydn symphony performed, by a good orchestra, one that often has a special touch with music of the classical period. And the conductor was somebody well regarded, whom this orchestra especially likes. But this performance illustrated exactly what I meant, two posts ago, when I asked if orchestras are playing well enough. Forget about fancy points, like making unmistakable — in the tone of your playing — when the development section begins (in a movement in sonata form). There’s something more basic than that. How about … [Read more...]


Somehow I’ve neglected to announce that the third instalment of my book is now available. The first and second instalments have gone to the great library in the sky, but extensive summaries are included with the latest episode. Though actually the old instalments aren’t in any library. Better to say they’re in the shop, being extensively refurbished. And as things have developed, the book isn’t the only thing worth reading on the book site. The comments from readers have been fabulous. They’re well worth reading, and they help me a lot. … [Read more...]

Do orchestras play well enough?

This might be heresy. For one thing, orchestras really play well technically. We could even say that orchestras have never played better, both technically, or in their understanding of musical styles. The classical music world also tends to think that nothing’s wrong with the way we play the music. If people aren’t coming, that’s because they aren’t educated, or we haven’t marketed to them well enough, or we have to make our presentation a little friendlier. We rarely think we have to play the music more distinctively. And finally — hard … [Read more...]