The Spin Doctor Europadisc's Weekly Column
Who is the Greatest of Them All?
29th November 2023
It was probably in 1999 that I became aware of the scale of the problem and the sheer stupidity of it all: HMV stores (remember those?) and the UK’s Channel 4 network teamed up (together with minor input from Classic FM) to conduct a poll to determine the ‘Music of the Millennium’. Well, it was asking for trouble, wasn’t it? A millennium: that’s a thousand years by normal reckoning. Yet with the sole exception of the ‘Best Piece of Classical Music’* and ‘Best Classical Composer’** categories, the entire poll was dominated by... read moreread more
Academic Music Under Attack
22nd November 2023
The closure of a music department at one of the UK’s less illustrious universities might seem to be of minor concern to the wider musical world. Yet the announcement last week of the immediate shutdown of the music course at Oxford Brookes University (the city’s former polytechnic) is deeply worrying. Some staff have been summarily dismissed, while others will be retained to ‘teach out’ the remaining cohorts of students. This case has made headlines because it highlights the wider predicament of academic music in Britain and... read moreread more
Crisis or Opportunity?
15th November 2023
For some time now, it seems that classical music has been in crisis. Books published by a well-known music journalist and blogger under such titles as Who Killed Classical Music? and The Life and Death of Classical Music have fuelled the flames of such a perception. And recent funding cuts and threats to a number of performing organisations – from ORF’s Vienna Symphony Orchestra (now saved), English National Opera (still under threat, with swingeing cuts to its orchestra underway) and the BBC Singers (who earned a temporary... read moreread more
Remembering two Slavic conductors
7th November 2023
The past fortnight has seen the passing of two conductors who rose to prominence in the 1970s and forged very different career paths in the febrile post-war atmosphere of central and eastern Europe. Born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on 8 January 1936, Zdeněk Mácal received his first violin lessons at an early age from his father, before entering the city’s Conservatory and Janáček Academy of Performing Arts and graduating with top honours in 1960. He looked set for success when, after becoming principal conductor of... read moreread more
The Vinyl Frontier
1st November 2023
Over the past decade or so, a quiet revolution has been happening in the world of recorded music: the return of the vinyl record. Of course, for those who spent many years amassing large collections of vinyl LPs and resisted the temptation to take the lot down to the charity shop when CDs came along in the mid-1980s, vinyl never really went away. The sudden decline in the vinyl market in the late 1980s and early 90s owed more to industry pressures than customer demand, although record collectors didn’t take long to cotton on... read moreread more