In 1954 Aaron Copland, one of the darlings of 20th Century American music, created an opera that was damned with faint praise. Everything else Copland touched seemed to turn to gold. So was it a bad opera, or was it just bad timing? Michael Shirrefs investigates.
The 1950s turned out to be a tricky time for Aaron Copland, the master of Americana, to create his first major opera. In a period of mass-neuroses typified by Senator McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts, Copland found himself less sure of his standing as a darling of the music world. … Continue Reading
Language is the key to unlocking culture and, in a shrinking, swirling, multicultural world, multilingualism is a crucial tool. Michael Shirrefs asks why Australia, a country that proudly spruiks its multicultural credentials, is still so monolingual.
Learning foreign languages—it’s not rocket science, surely. No, for most Australians it’s much harder than that. Like many products of British Empire, Australia has always told itself that English is sufficient. It’s part cultural arrogance, part fear and part geography. The English language has spread like a virus, and there’s no denying that much of the World has accepted English as an ancillary language. But that also means that much of the World can shut us out of conversations when they revert to their native tongue.
These days we know this is a problem, but a solution seems to be elusive.
This is a story of how some brave souls are trying to tackle our linguistic awkwardness.
It’s one of the most important institutions for English music in the 20th Century—a place that Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Michael Tippett poured their heart and soul into. The buildings witnessed the creation of some of the best known works of the last century. But it’s almost certain you’ll not know of it, and it’s barely mentioned in the conventional histories of the period.
Ultra-nationalism, anti-Semitism, censorship and intimidation of opponents. How has Hungary gone from having one of the most admired legal systems in the world, to becoming the most worrying symbol of democratic decline within Europe? European Union was founded on the belief that all members wanted to distance themselves from the sorts of conflicts and closed regimes that defined much of the 20th Century. But Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is presiding over a Hungary that is proving that this assumption was naïve, and that Europe is ill-prepared for the cascading side-effects of a crippling economic crisis.
What does it mean to a life to be born two years before a revolution that will rip your country apart?
Ali Alizadeh was born in Tehran in 1976. He grew up with the love of literature and strong Marxist ideologies of his immediate family, while a Revolution went horribly wrong across wider Iran.
The young Ali grew into a belief that language had power. This was until his family left Iran and moved to Australia—leaving Ali wrestling with his identity and wondering whether his new language still had power.
Today Ali Alizadeh is a highly respected writer, poet, critic and lecturer at Monash University, with an expanding body of work which already includes 5 poetry collections, a novel, a work of non-fiction and a collection of short stories.
Ali’s voice is clear and uncompromising and he treasures the strengths and failures of language in equal measure. … Continue Reading