Ian Bostridge is an opera singer and a song recitalist. He is the­ ­author of Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession and Witchcraft and Its Transformations, c. 1650–1750. (May 2020)


When Turgenev Did the Cancan

Ivan Turgenev; portrait by Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky, 1879

The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan Culture

by Orlando Figes
Pauline Viardot (1821–1910) was one of the most extraordinary women of the nineteenth century. She was raised in a family where, as Liszt put it, “genius seemed to be hereditary.” Her father, Manuel Garcia, born in Seville in 1775, was the first Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (1816).

Crying Out Loud

Lotte Lehmann crying onstage during her farewell recital at Town Hall, New York City, 1951

Singing in the Age of Anxiety: Lieder Performances in New York and London Between the World Wars

by Laura Tunbridge
The late-eighteenth-century cult of sensibility unleashed a torrent of weeping all over Europe. Chatterton handkerchiefs, printed in red or blue, flooded the market, depicting the distressed teenage poet in his garret; the suicide in 1770 of this literary prodigy and forger was later encoded into Romantic myth by Wordsworth, Keats, …

God’s Own Music

Luca della Robbia the Elder: detail from the Cantoria (choir loft), in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence, Italy, 1431–1438

O Sing unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music

by Andrew Gant

Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece

by Jonathan Keates
The Anglican choral tradition is one of the great successes of English cultural diffusion, to rank with Association Football (soccer), cricket, and the works of William Shakespeare. It has a cultural heft way beyond its parochial and very specific origins, and it turns up in the oddest places. The most incongruous example must surely be the upmarket gloss that Thomas Tallis’s forty-part motet Spem in Alium lends to a down-and-dirty scene in the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Magic in Schubert’s Songs

Gustav Klimt: Schubert at the Piano, 1899; destroyed by fire in May 1945

Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs

by Graham Johnson
Unlike Beethoven, Schubert wrote song compulsively, and achieved mastery in it as a teenager. It was as a composer of song that he first became famous; and his fecundity and sophistication in that genre, his gift for melody and his grasp of harmonic drama, both inner and outer, in turn lifted its status.