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.
Our world is a complex organism, more interrelated than the silos in which we typically place it. One area of research to recognise this is the new discipline of participatory architecture, which explores among other things the relationship between music and buildings. But the idea has antecedents, including composers like Benjamin Britten and Edgard Varèse, and architects like Renzo Piano and Carlo Scarpo. Michael Shirrefs explores the search for harmony in the built environment.
Have you ever looked at a building and wondered what it would sound like? I’m not just talking about acoustics and air conditioner hum—I mean, what if that building was a piece of music? … Continue Reading
Why did that very modern 20th Century composer, Maurice Ravel, compose images of spectres, goblins and death?
Gaspard de la Nuit is the title of one of the most arresting and spectacularly difficult works ever written for the piano, but the name of this 3-part suite has it’s origins much earlier. This remarkable piano work by Ravel is actually a conversation between the composer and a little-known poet living more that 60 years earlier. And today’s Into the Music feature enters into their dialogue—between the words and the music.
In a world of global ambitions and amorphous regions, Europe has become emblematic of the struggle between the need for collective cooperation and the fear of becoming lost in a vast, culturally homogenous mass. And in the current crisis of confidence about the future of the European ‘project’, one country sits as a symbol of all the tension and all the uncertainty.
Germany is once again right at the heart of global events and its role in the unfolding drama is being examined from all the obvious political and economic angles. But to understand what the future might hold for Europe, it helps to understand something of the identity of the main player.
So who is Germany? This series of three programs aims to provide some useful vignettes of how Germany sees itself, and how the country is perceived from the outside.