On June 22, 2013, The New York Review held a conference to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and to honor the lives, work, and legacy of Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Bernard Williams. We are pleased to present the following audio record of this event.
Recently, the British pianist Stephen Hough reported on his blog that he had made “The most exciting musical discovery of [his] life: Tchaikovsky’s wrong note finally corrected.” The article questioned a note in Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, a large-scale, virtuosic piece that makes striking use of Russian folk themes. At the start of the concerto’s slow movement, the flute plays a phrase that consists of the notes A-flat, E-flat, F, A-flat. But is that F a mistake?
For all of the controversy surrounding Reza Aslan and his book Zealot, the work follows in a long tradition of study of the historical figure of Jesus—a subject that has provoked vigorous debate in The New York Review’s pages over the decades.
As Israelis and Palestinians embark on a new round of peace talks, critics of Benjamin Netanyahu have expressed doubt that the Israeli prime minister, once a leading opponent of the Oslo Accords, can change his ways. On Monday, a member of the prime minister’s Likud party wrote that “Netanyahu will not offer the Palestinians more than his predecessors, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, so it is just a matter of time before these peace talks deadlock as well.” Yet the presumed reticence of Netanyahu and his government to match the offers of their predecessors is among the weaker reasons to doubt Kerry will reach his stated goal of ending the conflict.
Frédéric Chopin was “the greatest master of counterpoint since Mozart”—so claimed the late pianist and author Charles Rosen in a 1987 review in these pages. At the time I read this, it came as a double surprise to me. I had never thought of Chopin’s music as having a lot of contrapuntal interest. I had always imagined it to stress sonority over structure, to be more emotional—even sentimental—than intellectual: a sort of higher mood music.