Category Archives: Classical music

Five uneasy pieces

Violinist Joshua Bell is currently Music Director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in London. He was born in 1967 in Bloomington, Indiana. At 14 he played with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Riccardo Muti, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut at 17 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In January 2007, at the age of 39, he was playing to a packed house at Boston’s Symphony Hall, where half-decent seats start at $100.

Joshua Bell
Joshua Bell in 2010

But three days after that performance he was busking at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington DC. He always plays the same violin though, a 1713 Stradivarius. He had bought this a few years previously for an estimated $3.5 million. He played for 43 minutes and made $32.17. Continue reading

Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius

English Heritage blue plaque commemorating Jean Sibelius, Gloucester Walk, London W8

I like blue plaques on the walls of buildings. I like their unpretentious informational content, and the way they embellish a dog walk with random snippets of cultural history.

For example in 1909 the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius lived for a while in Gloucester Walk, W8, part of that arid wasteland between Holland Park and Kensington Gardens. This was shortly after a successful operation to remove a throat tumour – possibly the result of too much smoking and/or drinking and/or lobster.

While in Britain Sibelius conducted his En sagaFinlandiaValse Triste and Spring Song.

© Chris Lawrence 2019.