Recent links of note:
“Sound and Fury”
Matthew Aucoin, The New York Review of Books
“To some it is Napoleon, to some it is a philosophical struggle,” the conductor Arturo Toscanini once quipped of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony. “To me, it is allegro con brio.” Though surely just an offhand remark, Toscanini’s bon mot cuts to the very heart of a divide between two schools of thought in the world of conducting: that of the “philosopher” conductors (think of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s essays or his pupil Sergiu Celibidache’s lectures on phenomenology and music), who are often wedded to theory or some form of exegesis, and the absolutists of Toscanini’s type, who are much more in the business of what one could call music for music’s sake. Toward the extreme end of the former camp lay Pierre Boulez, the pugnacious French composer-conductor known for his fiery pronunciamentos in the 1950s championing twelve-tone avant-gardism at the expense of most anything else. Yet the maestro also had another—dare one call it “soft”?—side that grew more pronounced with time, as he aged into his reputation as a respected interpreter of late romantic and early modernist composers.
“Puttin’ on the Ritz”
Jerry White, The Times Literary Supplement
For those missing the bustle of London’s West End—or of any local theater district, for that matter—this review by Jerry White of a new history of the neighborhood’s theaters, hotels, and pleasure domes will be a welcome walk down memory lane. In this time of unprecedented closures and financial strain in both the theater and the hospitality industries, let us hope that there are many more volumes of such history to be written yet.
“The medieval Armenian monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh must be protected”
Christina Maranci, Apollo
With Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque this summer and Armenia’s loss against Azerbaijan in a war over the disputed region of Artsakh (known outside of Armenia by the Russian name Nagorno-Karabakh), this year has not been kind to the ancient Christian patrimony in the Near East. As Christina Maranci writes for Apollo, wartorn Artsakh—including the vast stretches of it now ceded to Azerbaijan—is host to a wealth of endangered churches and monasteries built in the ancient Armenian architectural tradition, a cousin to the Byzantine style more familiar to Western eyes. Now, as thousands of Armenians leave their homes as refugees over the course of this winter, Maranci takes a look at the threat that these heritage sites will face in the months to come.
“Roger Kimball introduces the December issue.”A new podcast from the Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion.
“The arrival of Fatma Said,” by Jay Nordlinger. On a recital by an Egyptian soprano.