Recent links of note:
“Why did Balakirev’s beautiful, inventive works go out of fashion?”
Damian Thompson, TheSpectator
Mily Balakirev’s name turns up everywhere in the history of Russian classical music. The founder of “The Mighty Five” group, Balakirev was the mentor to an entire school of nationalist composers whose music defined a new Russian idiom in the late nineteenth century: Cui, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin. It’s only as a footnote to the biographies of more famous composers that Balakirev is known, however—his own music is rarely played or listened to today. In a review for TheSpectator of a new six-CD set of the composer’s complete piano works, Damian Thompson investigates why the immeasurably influential composer has been neglected. The answer lies somewhere inside the twists and turns of Balakirev’s life story, from his youth as a freethinker and atheist to his old age as an anti-Semitic, depressive recluse living in a house full of cats, dogs, and Orthodox icons.
“‘Philip and Alexander’ Review: A Conqueror’s Patrimony”
James Romm, The Wall Street Journal
In a review for The Wall Street Journal, James Romm explores the life of another of history’s neglected footnotes—Philip II of Macedon, father to Alexander the Great. Philip’s story is almost always told as the preface to his son’s remarkable conquests, which in the space of a decade expanded the Macedonian empire from the Balkans in the West to the Indus River valley in the East. But, as Romm writes, many of Alexander’s plans for this expansion were in fact drawn up by Philip, whose life was cut short by an assassin at the age of forty-six as he stood poised to invade the Persian Empire. It’s nothing new to suggest that more credit might be due to Philip. Cleitus, one of Alexander’s most beloved lieutenants, once said as much during a drunken quarrel at a feast—and received a javelin through the heart from Alexander’s own hands.
“Music for a While #36: ‘Remember me’.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Lullabies for piano,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a new album by Bertrand Chamayou.