What makes contemporary composers so important? What do they contribute?

I think this is a great question. It is really a question about what the value of art is as a whole – the things that make contemporary composers important are also what make every living artist important.

As with many of these questions, I think we have to define exactly what you mean by ‘important’. And when you say ‘what do they contribute?’, there is a piece missing – a contribution has to be made to something.

Continue reading “What makes contemporary composers so important? What do they contribute?”

Who is considered the most complete opera composer?

This is an interesting question. ‘Complete’ is often used as a synonym for ‘best’ – for me, though, I think it more properly should include a sense of how all-encompassing a composer is. Haydn, for example, could be considered one of the most complete composers because he wrote in pretty much every genre available to him.

Richard’s mention of Wagner as one of the most complete operatic composers is certainly on the money, not only because he wrote his own libretti but also because his opera encompass such enormous worlds. Continue reading “Who is considered the most complete opera composer?”

Where has the fun gone?

I’ve been pondering over what to write about since just before Easter. I have a list of topics I want to write about that I drew up a few months ago when I started this blog. But nothing was leaping off the list and there were other things demanding my attention (buying a house, end of term events, concerts, and the discovery of Quora – you can find me here).

What has been occupying my thoughts consistently over the past couple of months is a slightly odd discovery: I find it very difficult to have fun at the moment. Continue reading “Where has the fun gone?”

Is life about happiness?

I’m not sure why, but I have never seen happiness as a necessary outcome of my life. Indeed, for large portions of my life, I haven’t even seen my own happiness as desirable. I don’t know whether that is, in itself, good or bad but I do know that at many times I have lacked a way of clearly orienting myself in the world. I am still not able to do so all the time but I certainly have a much clearer idea about which direction I am travelling in. Continue reading “Is life about happiness?”

A response to The Economist

On March 1st in The Economist there was an article titled ‘Total eclipse of the arts: the quiet decline of music in British schools‘ which detailed the decrease in uptake for music at both GCSE and A-level. There have been many such articles in recent years and all have bemoaned the drop off in funding for music education, particularly for instrumental tuition, whilst drawing nostalgic comparisons with the Britain of 50 years ago when free peripatetic lessons were common and music – at least in glass-half-full comparison – was booming. Continue reading “A response to The Economist”

Why is change hard?

One of the hardest decisions I have made was to change careers. The hard part wasn’t working out what other option I might take; the hard part was no longer pursuing the career I had set myself. It had been on my mind off and on for a couple of years but I hadn’t ever properly engaged with it. I didn’t feel I was making the kind of progress I wanted, it wasn’t as rewarding financially as I needed it to be, I found adjusting to coming home after long periods away was difficult…

There were many reasons that switching careers was a good idea. But quitting what I had set out to achieve felt like failure. Surely it was through dedication and commitment that one found success? Continue reading “Why is change hard?”