1066, the Magna Carta, the Peasants’ Revolt, Henry VIII and Margaret Thatcher – all milestones in England’s tumultuous history. Simon Jenkins’ new book, A Short History of England, gallops through the events of the past from the invaders of the Dark Ages to today’s coalition government. It’s very much a chronological narrative, as Jenkins argues it’s essential to know what’s happened, and in what sequence, to understand the essence of being English. He describes it as a proud, exhilarating and empowering story, and one which constantly pits an overarching central power against the will of the people.A Short History of England
A Short History of England is published by Profile Books.
‘You wait 400 years for a woman poet laureate and then three turn up at once’, so quipped Carol Ann Duffy when introducing her Scottish and Welsh counterparts. Gillian Clarke became the National Poet of Wales five years ago, and has since then been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and earlier this year was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards in recognition of her contribution to Welsh language, literature and culture. Although a celebration of Welsh national identity lies at the heart of Clarke’s work, she only learnt to speak Welsh fluently as an adult. Now she says that the Welsh language “shapes the way” she thinks and writes English.Gillian Clarke
Her latest collection, A Recipe for Water, is published by Carcanet.
They were born in the same year, followed the same profession, and both went on to become national heroes. But that’s where the similarities between Verdi and Wagner end. The former, sober, private, a man of the earth who wrote melodious music that united Italy; the latter, intense and neurotic, whose operas changed the musical landscape forever, and who a century after his death became the poster boy of Hitler’s Germany. In the 19th century supporters formed themselves into mutually antagonistic camps, which persisted into the 20th century. Peter Conrad asks whether it’s now possible for music lovers to enjoy both Verdi and Wagner, or whether musical sensibilities, ideology and nationality still get in the way.Verdi and/or Wagner
Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries is published by Thames & Hudson.
Once the leading 'enfant terrible' of the post-war generation of modern musicians, now Pierre Boulez is widely regarded as one of the most influential composers alive today. From the early discovery of the twelve tone technique, to the use of electronics, to controlled chance, Boulez is constantly pushing at the boundaries of classical music. He once argued “music should be collective hysteria and magic, violently modern.” The French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is curating a weekend celebration of Boulez’s work at the Southbank Centre in London. He talks about the joy of playing his rich and complex pieces, which Boulez is constantly reworking and refreshing, in a state of permanent revolution.Exquisite Labyrinth: The Music of Pierre Boulez
Exquisite Labyrinth: The Music of Pierre Boulez is at the Southbank Centre from Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October.
Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the…