Nothing thrills me more than finding a composer I can love

Nothing thrills me more than finding a composer I can love


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2018

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The late Michael Kennedy, lifelong Telegraph critic, once told me he lost interest in new music in his late sixties. Michael had known Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten and reckoned their successors were not up to the mark. We argued about the merits of Birtwistle and Turnage but his ears were not for the turning and I respected the candour of his admission.

Myself, around the same age, I am still bi-curious: eager to see what the old hands are doing and keen to hear new sounds coming through. Nothing thrills me more than finding a composer I can love…



Read on here.

And here.


  • Robert Roy says:

    Thirty odd years ago I was a music student at university and was urged by our Head of Department that we students MUST listen to ‘new’ music to prevent the art form becoming a museum. So, since then, I’ve attempted to listen to the great and the good from ‘modern composers’ including Boulez, Cage, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Aho, Kaipainen, Birtwhistle and Turnage to name a few. And, to be perfectly honest, I’ve ADMIRED a lot of these composers output. But LOVE it in the way I love Bach, Mozart, Beethoven etc, etc, No!

    • John Borstlap says:

      Because those older composers still knew how to touch what was, in those times, called ‘the soul’ – they were part of a civilization that did not know yet the one-sidedness of materialism and the cult of technology. In other words, they were much more human, a quality disappearing in the established new music since 1945.

      • Zalman says:

        You were listening to composers based on their success, not their merit! That is what is wrong with the world. Colin Brumby, for example, was a fine composer in Australia, but hardly known elsewhere. You have search out the great composers of your time. I might be one.

        • Sue says:

          You obviously haven’t read what was written above in the first comment. I think he’s really nailed it.

          Yesterday in the car I was listening to the radio to a piece which I felt sure was British even though I’d never heard it before. It bored me to death. It was Britten.

  • msc says:

    The first Mcleod I think I heard (or at least that registered on me) was “The sun dances”, in a broadcast by the BBC Scottish SO and Runnicles, in 2014. That lead me to seek out other music by him and I’ve been richly rewarded. I look forward to hearing the new disc.

  • John Borstlap says:

    McLeod’s piano music is strikingly good:

    Prelude nr 2

    Never heard of the man. No doubt there are many other composers, having worked in relative local circumstances, but never making the way of the fashionable nobodies cultivating the worst aspects of modern life.

  • Bruce says:

    Wow. Good thing there’s no precedent on this site for taking provocative-sounding remarks out of context…

  • Alistair Hinton says:

    Robert Roy (and all too many others) please note…

    “Anyone can whistle” is by Stephen Sondheim.

    “I whistle a happy tune” is by Richard Rodgers.

    “Whistle down the wind” is a Richard Attenborough movie with a score by Malcolm Arnold.

    The score for “Concerning Hobbits”, from “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, features a tin (or penny) whistle and is by Howard Shore.

    Can you see where this is going yet? (wrote he, paraphrasing the immoral Mr Harris as distinct from the distinguished Sir Harrison)…


    Well, here’s a clue.

    Birt comprises the last four of the ten letters in the name of a Gloucestershire village wherein is located a famous arboretum; not a place where you would expect to hear whistling…

    A spell checker (see ) is a device whose origins date back at least 60 years but, whilst often useful, is unlikely to pick up mis-spellings of composers’ names unless first taught to do so.

    If Sir Harrison had a tenner for every time he’s been whistled at, he would be a very rich man indeed…

  • Zalman says:

    Malcolm Arnold, Carl Davis, William Walton, Rubbra… The “establishment” makes me sick. The publishers only go with who will make them money.

    • Sue says:

      Are you FOR those composers you mention or against them? There’s something of an irony in your comments which is suggestive of a lack of self awareness. Aren’t you advocating lesser-known composers becoming part of the “establishment” and wanting success?

      Why would publishers only want to go with people who make them money? Sure, they’re charity organizations – just like Goldman Sachs.

      Cognitive dissonance.