The Labour leader has been rightly scorned for music that merely ticked boxes. He could so easily have been a lot less boring…

Open Eye: How did you fare in last month's OU Challenge?

For those who were unable to cope with the questions, never mind the answers to our summer quiz, here's a reprise - with the answers on the right

Music: The real sound of English song

Hubert Parry

Whatever happened to malice aforethought?

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Proms; The voice of a thousand


Proms; From Estonia to England via the way of the Tao


Classical & Opera: East meets West

With so much new music veering towards the small-scale - if not, in some cases, almost the aphoristic - one has to admire the somewhat alternative approach taken by a composer such as the Tan Dun (right). Born in China in 1957, he studied at the Beijing Conservatory when it opened in 1978 after the Chinese Cultural Revolution, but now makes his home in New York. And, in what definitely amounts to the biggest and longest of the UK premieres at this summer's BBC Proms season, Dun takes it upon himself to explode a few "little" issues such as heaven, earth and mankind, which, in fact, form the subtitle of his massive Symphony 1997.

Classical: music on CD: Seascapes

ROUSSEL: Symphonies Nos 1-4 Orchestre National de France/ Charles Dutoit

Review: Vaughan Williams celebrated in style

Music: Vaughan Williams and Company St John's, Smith Square, London

Arts: At last, a new symphony with tunes you can hum

`The symphony - all bits and pieces... No one would understand... no one... no one... Don't let anyone tinker with it...' And, for over 60 years, no one did.

Classical: Music on Radio 3; Old whines and new battles

Last Saturday's first instalment from the 1997 Manchester Composers' Platform offered the ingeniously sinuous Two pieces for two clarinets by 26-year-old Richard Cawston, and a grandly languorous, polymodal piano piece by Guy Newbury entitled Strand Looping. The extracts from Gary Carpenter's Satie: Orchestral Variations played naughty conceptual fun and games with snippets of the Maitre, while Passing Through, a 10-minute string quartet by Nick Giles, revealed a promising ear for the medium and a rather personal vein of not quite tonal harmony.


In Hermann Hesse's novel Magister Ludi, or The Glass Bead Game, the players belonged to a monastic order, 400 years hence, in the post- apocalyptic realm of Castalia. Even a generation ago, when Hesse was nearly as big as Dylan, the concept proved too high for most of the novelist's admirers. Now that so many different flavours of Romanticism are on offer, the public gets its Central European Catholic spirituality from the composer Grecki rather than Hesse. He has found a niche in the Net, however, thanks to a band of enthusiasts who are intrigued by the possibility of realising the Glass Bead Game in hypermedia.

A composer of our time

MICHAEL TIPPETT'S death on Thursday closed not just a chapter in British musical life but - you could argue - the whole book. At least, the book entitled English Musical Renaissance. Born in 1905, before Britten, not long after Walton, at a time when Elgar hadn't yet produced a symphony and Vaughan Williams was still struggling through semi-juvenilia, he belonged to what was, by any reckoning, a great age. And he was perhaps the last British composer whose own greatness could be reckoned both in stature and in popularity. Maxwell Davies, Birtwistle, John Tavener et al who succeed him might claim one or the other, but not both.

The sounds of snow and silence

WITH the death of Sir Michael Tippett, the country's most intrepid composer becomes its most distinguished too. I refer, of course, to the adopted Orcadian Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who for a quarter of a century has lived and worked in a crofter's cottage on the bleak Scottish island, in conditions of austerity that would send most musicians hurrying back to the cosy salons of the city.

MUSIC: Cinderella instruments get to go to the ball (just this once, mind)

IF I WERE in the business of giving careers advice to musical children, I'd start by asking if they had considered accountancy: it's easier, the pay is better, and the hours are regular. Failing that, I'd steer then towards an instrument that offers a stable orchestral income (violin, cello) or, at the very least, the prospect of regular recital work. Because beyond that boundary is a shadow-world inhabited by virtuosi of the cimbalom, theorbo and harmonica, with mortgages in permanent arrears.

Classical & Opera: Peace and inspiration

Christmas choral concerts don't have to be all `Jingle Bells' and `The Messiah'. Composer Judith Weir has devised an eclectic and pleasing mix of old and new music to be performed at Christ Church, Spitalfields
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