Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

The very best of dietrich Fischer-DieskauDietrich Fischer-Dieskau who died on 18 May of this year was a renowned German baritone. He was born on May 28, 1925 in Berlin, where both his parents were teachers. He learned to play the piano from his mother. He started taking voice lessons at sixteen, but suffered an early set back when he was drafted into the armed forces in 1943, having just completed his secondary school studies and one term at the Berlin Conservatory. He was captured in Italy in 1945 and spent two years as  prisoner of war, however this did not end his love affair with music. He took advantage of the time to continue his musical studies and to perform where possible, entertaining the troops with his renditions of Schubert songs. Once the Nazis were defeated, Fischer-Dieskau returned to Berlin and began singing professionally.

A Band of Authors, musical writers and literary musicians

Atomised There is a band you have probably never heard of called The Rock Bottom Remainders. However you will probably know a few of the members pretty well. Stephen King, Amy Tan and Mitch Albom to name a few. They got their name from a publishing term "remainders" which is left over stock of titles which are sold off at discount prices. All proceeds from their gigs and recordings go to charity. Another novelist who has turned the pen to music is Michel Houellebecq. His novel 'Atomised' won the International IMPAC Dublin literary Award in 2002. He released a single called Le Film Du Dimanche (The Sunday Film). It has been likened to Gainsbourg and Jack Brel, a huge compliment!

Doc Watson Obituary

Trouble in MindDoc Watson was the best American Folk guitarist that lived. He died on the 29 May 2012 at the age of 89. He was born into a musical family and lost his sight before his first birthday. Although he never had a hit record or was in the American Billboard chart, he was a leader of the American folk music that became commercially popular particularly through the Coen Brothers film, "O Brother Where Art Thou?". His distinctive style was born out of playing fiddle parts in a country swing band. Before that the guitar was a background instrument to the ukulele and fiddle. His lightening quick finger and flat picking style is a pleasure to listen to as it accompanies his mellow voice filled with sincerity.

He has won seven Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Folk, Folk, Folk!

Martin CarthyA quick blog for Musical Books, just want to tell you that I went to an amazing gig in Belfast last week to see Martin Carthy. This folk singer sings ancient songs from Irish, English and Scottish descent. His unusual and rhythmic guitar playing coupled with a distinctive voice keep ancient sea chanty and tales of war, woe and love alive in their purest form. His music has influenced Bob Dylan and his arrangement of Scarborough Fair was used by Simon and Garfunkel. His no nonsense stage presence and self-deprecating humour was a refreshing cherry on the top of an amazing performance. Check out this amazing album by him in the Music Library, Signs of Life.

Sixteen Blooming Years

UlysseesSixteen years ago (1996) I began to research references to songs in the works of James Joyce. This was for a production entitled “doublin babble on” (an evening of theatre & music in Newman House). I started reading and re-reading Joyce’s works with a view to cataloguing all the song references therein. This was an enjoyable but also a daunting task. Consequently I was delighted to discover the existence of 'The James Joyce Songbook' (a scholarly work edited by Ruth Bauerle, reference-only copy available). She had completed precisely what I was only embarking upon. The result of my (Bauerle assisted) research was the James Joyce music room where three other singers and myself, together with musical director and accompanist, Margot Doherty, performed a selection of songs from Joyce’s works. The James Joyce song repertoire is a treasure trove of varied musical genres: opera, operetta, parlour songs, music hall numbers, traditional Irish melodies and all the songs that Joyce himself liked to sing (Joyce was a fine tenor who, before he devoted himself to literature contemplated a career in music). This performance developed into "Bloomsongs" which Margot Doherty and I (under the name Winedark Productions) have performed regularly since then.

Arthur Rubinstein

The legendary RubinsteinArthur Rubinstein was seven years old in 1894, when he played the piano in public for the first time. By the time his career ended, eighty-two years later, he had performed with phenomenal success in most countries of the world.

He was born in Lodz, Poland (part of the Russian Empire at that time) to Jewish parents. By the age of 4, Rubinstein was recognised as a child prodigy. He studied piano in Warsaw, later moving to Berlin to continue his studies while playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rubinstein travelled to several countries and made his home at various times in Poland, Germany, France, England and the United States  playing at many concerts throughout.

Females and Folk in Musical Books

Under the Ivy There's some lovely stuff in our new stock, I came across these gems.

I'll start with Under the Ivy: The story of Kate Bush. Kate Bush.... need I say more? No, but I will remind you that she was the first female artist ever to have a UK number one with a self penned song at the age of nineteen. This book is a series of interviews with people who worked closely with her throughout her career. To quote the Mojo Magazine (which is held in the Music Library) it's a "compelling examination of her music". Get your boxfresh copy now.

Fiction and Fact (?????) for Musical Books.

Hello again,

this Month in Musical Books I have picked a great piece of fiction by Irish writer Claire Kilroy titled 'Tenderwire'.

tenderwireThe narrator, Eve Tyne is an Irish solo violinist who's life is turned upside down when she acquires a rare del Guso violin and is possessed by its sound and beauty.

The acquisition transforms her career and is almost symbolic of her private life which is spiralling out of control. This is a really well written fast paced read with some clever unexpected twists. Check it out.

LifeThe other one I've chosen is 'Life' by Keith Richards.

I was ill over Christmas and confined to bed so the size of this volume didn't put me off. Also I could not drink and the hardest thing I was consuming was lemsip so at least I could celebrate the festive season by proxy of Keith Richard's hell raising. 

Musical Books

WhitebicyclesHello and welcome, Musical Books is a blog article about exactly what it says! However don't be fooled if you think you have to really like music to get a good read here. I will also be reviewing riveting good reads that are not absolutely note for note about music.

I'm starting with one of my favourites: Joe Boyd's White Bicycles - Making Music in the 60s.

This is a memoir of music producer Joe Boyd whose career began as a tour manager to Muddy waters and The Reverend Gary Davies during the blues revival in England in the mid sixties. Although Boyd is an American the book has the feel of being written by an Englishman. His love of English folk music is probably responsible for this. He was pivotal in furthering the careers of Sandy Denny, the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake.

Walking Through The Airs of the Famous Composers

The Story of Classical MusicThe story of Classical Music is a 4 CD set produced by Naxos, that explores the life and music of the great composers of classical music in a very entertaining and informal way. The account is written by Darren Henley and read by singer and presenter Aled Jones and is an excellent introduction to classical music

It outlines the development of classical music from 600 to present day and gives a historical overview of classical music beginning over 1400 years ago with Gregorian chants and Hildegard von Bingen and culminating with a brief listen to the soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Due to the vast time period covered, this CD does not attempts to look at the development of classical music in any great depth, but rather to give an overview.