Recent links of note:
“For the future of scholarship, the National Art Library must be protected”
Luke Uglow, Apollo
It’s a sad reflection on our culture’s priorities that fast food restaurants and luxury shopping have reopened with considerably more swiftness than libraries. Here in Manhattan, I myself am itching for the expansiveness of a good reading room. Unfortunately, reading rooms are no longer considered the civic necessities they once were, and they seem to be white elephants to the directors of the institutions that house them. Witness, for example, the emptying, repurposing, and eventual closure in 2017 of the British Museum Reading Room, perhaps the world’s grandest. Now, as Luke Uglow reports for Apollo, the impending “restructuring” of the Victoria and Albert will encompass a “root-and-branch review” of the role of the National Art Library housed there. We can only hope that this all-too-familiar euphemistic language is just bureaucratic sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Tony Palmer, Gramophone
I never cease to be amazed by how far Igor Stravinsky traveled, how long he lived (1882–1971), and the number of people whose biographies he crisscrossed—Pablo Picasso, Mussolini, Coco Chanel, and Charlie Parker, to name just a few. As you might gather from that diverse cast, Stravinsky was a man of many contradictions: a devout Orthodox Christian whose music ushered in modernism with the help of paganistic ritual; a liberal who flirted with reactionism; a family man who lived the life of a bon vivant. Tony Palmer tells the charming story for Gramophone of his acquaintance with Stravinsky, as well as his attempts to reconcile these contradictions—and placate the Soviet censors over vodka and sweetmeats—while filming a documentary on the composer’s life in the 1980s.
“A rush of blood”
Alex Burghart, The Times Literary Supplement
Few moments in history have seen such whiplash-inducing regime change and political upheaval as England in the decades leading up to the Norman Conquest of 1066. William the Conqueror’s famous incursion and the events that followed tend to obscure the complexity of the history that came before. Alex Burghart writes on a number of surprising facts about the Saxon era for The Times Literary Supplement in a review of three new books that should prove to be worthy guides to this complicated time.
“Music for a While #42: From a toast to a prayer.”
Jay Nordlinger, The New Criterion’s music critic, talks music—but, more important, plays music.
“Gray eminence,” by Marco Grassi. On “Grey Matters” at Nicholas Hall.