George Benjamin’s Written On Skin – Analysis of a Scene

https://youtu.be/TP4mZxXh1Yw

Wagner’s Parsifal – A Musical Analysis

https://youtu.be/DJwf8xsg_zg In this video, I’m looking at the prelude to the third act of Parsifal, the last music drama by Richard Wagner, and one of my favourite pieces of music. I won’t go into too much depth of analysis, but I do want to note a few things that may help us to appreciate the [...]

Billy Budd – A closer look at the score

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZhTAcO0r9o I want to look at a particular passage from Benjamin Britten’s great opera, Billy Budd, to see how we can learn from his orchestral writing. Billy Budd is a truly masterful work, and really rewards repeated listening; I recommend especially the 1966 BBC production that is, at least currently, available on YouTube, if you’re [...]

Composing the Sea

A Scene from Britten's Death in Venice It may seem strange to focus on Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice in talking about how he composed his seascapes; after all, he returned to the subject many times throughout his career – perhaps more than any other composer – and often treated it more directly than in [...]

Gustav Mahler – Against Nihilism

Listening to Gustav Mahler’s ninth symphony recently, having heard a number of contemporary pieces utilising orchestral ‘sample libraries’, I was struck by just how clear and precise Mahler’s orchestration is, in a way I’d not fully appreciated before. It brought to mind the fact that, with all our technology and means of reproducing sounds in [...]