Music in Game of Thrones: S08E03 ‘The Long Night’

**MAJOR SPOILERS** Sound & Music in Part One There is a LOT to talk about musically/sonically in this episode. Given that ‘The Long Night’ is pretty much the length of a feature film, this is gonna be a long one! If you’re here for an analysis of just ‘The Night King’, then scroll down because... Continue Reading →

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BBC Proms 2019

I'm delighted to be giving some Proms pre-concert talks this year. I'm doing two talks, on the 3rd and 4th August, so please come and join me for a whole weekend on Nordic goodness! On the 3rd I'll be talking about the first version of Sibelius's 5th symphony, penned in 1915. On the 4th I'm... Continue Reading →

Music Inspired by Shakespeare

Shakespeare has long been a source of musical inspiration. From Mendelssohn to Macmillan, countless composers have written incidental music for Shakespeare’s plays or set Shakespeare’s words to music. Seeing as it’s (probably) Shakespeare’s birthday, here’s a playlist of 15 pieces inspired by Shakespeare. 1. Wilhelm Stenhammar As You Like It. Stenhammar penned this music in 1920... Continue Reading →

Reflecting on the Proms 2019

The Proms have announced their 2019 season, and as usual both programme and opinions on it are varied. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is alongside cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Edward Elgar beside Nina Simone. There are themed concerts ranging from sci-fi film music to Queen Victoria’s piano, to a concert based on best-selling book The Lost Words.... Continue Reading →

Why incidental music?

As with very many (perhaps too many) things in my life, it all began with Sibelius. During my undergraduate degree I had discovered Sibelius’s symphonies and, after some soul-searching, decided that I loved this music enough to pursue a Masters on Sibelius, and try to build an academic career studying Nordic music. I threw myself... Continue Reading →

Explore a Score: Luonnotar

Luonnotar is one of my favourite ever pieces. From the hypnotic and powerful soprano part to the elusive and ethereal ending, it’s one of the most astonishing works that Sibelius ever wrote. But it very rarely makes it onto concert programmes, and when it premiered in 1913, critics were completely nonplussed. The reviews were a... Continue Reading →

Listening to Amanda Röntgen-Maier

Amanda Röntgen-Maier has to be one of the most under-appreciated composers I know. Born in Landskrona, Sweden, in 1853, she was the first woman to graduate as a Director of Music from the Royal Academy in Stockholm. She was clearly exceptionally talented: this was considered the Academy’s most difficult exam, and she passed with the... Continue Reading →

Listening to Aarre Merikanto

Aarre Merikanto (1893-1958) has a hugely varied body of works, spanning a forty-year-long career. As the son of a successful composer (Oskar Merikanto) and working at the same time as Sibelius in Finland’s culturally conservative atmosphere, he struggled for a long time to find his own compositional voice. He’s often described as Finland’s first modernist,... Continue Reading →

Listening to Wilhelm Stenhammar

Listening to Wilhelm Stenhammar ‘In this time of Arnold Schoenberg’, wrote Wilhelm Stenhammar in 1911, ‘I dream of an art that is far beyond Arnold Schoenberg: clear, happy, and naïve.’ In the early years of the twentieth century, Stenhammar faced the dilemma of forging a compositional identity for himself in a musical climate increasingly dominated... Continue Reading →

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