This is a book that can be read with great pleasure and considerable profit by the general reader today. But when, in a century’s time, musical historians want to know what musical life was like in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and what judgment, opinion and taste was current then, this book will certainly be capable of giving them a cultivated and accurate answer. Without exception, these essays are of permanent importance and value. Only the richness and diversity of their subject matter make it impossible to give an adequate idea of their variety and scope, not to mention their stature.
This is the first selection of essays by Bayan Northcott, one of the most distinguished British music critics of the generation that followed Hans Keller (1919-85). For many decades he has captivated readers with his breadth of his knowledge, acuity and pursuit of the highest standards, at the same time that he was emerging as a composer. So it is the meeting point of critic and artist that these writings celebrate.
The book falls into four parts. The first deals mainly with musical questions, the second with music for words, the third with a gallery of composers from J. S. Bach and Mozart to Elliott Carter and Judith Weir, and the fourth with the various states of music from the 1980s to the present. An envoi reflects on endings and silence. Many of the essays were written for The Independent, and some include the drawings by Michael Daley that originally accompanied them. There are six further drawings by Milein Cosman, and a comprehensive bibliographical survey.
was born in Harrow in 1940, and has mainly lived and worked in London. He has written extensively for Music and Musicians, The New Statesman, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent and the BBC Music Magazine, as well as for many other publications. In 1980 he edited a collection of essays on The Music of Alexander Goehr (Schott), and his compositions include a Fantasia for guitar (1982), a Sextet (1985), a Horn Concerto (1998) and Four Votive Antiphons (1997-2003).
All the Gods: Benjamin Britten’s Night-piece in Context (Plumbago, 2006). He has edited four volumes of Hans Keller’s writings, including Essays on Music (CUP, 1994) and Film Music and Beyond (Plumbago, 2006), as well as Julian Littlewood’s The Variations of Johannes Brahms (Plumbago, 2004) and Hugh Wood’s Staking Out the Territory (Plumbago, 2007).(Editor) teaches at King’s College London and is author of