Fanfare Contributor Bio
Classical music was, for me, a great love of which I had always been aware, but which I only fell for in my teenage years. Some of my earliest musical memories mingle CDs from my Dad’s collection, which he began when CDs were still a new and novel way of storing your music. The Beatles were at one end of the shelf; Karajan’s Beethoven 9 and a bunch of early Naxos discs at the other. I remember thinking, aged seven, that anyone who heard the return of main theme of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto as it bursts from the orchestra mid-movement would surely be amazed by it, but I think I had greater faith in people’s open-mindedness then.
I came back to classical music in a big way when I was 16, having caught the Rachmaninoff bug, and Russian music has remained my principal interest ever since. I moved on to Shostakovich and saved up my money to buy the individual discs in the Bernard Haitink Decca symphony cycle, when they had dark and jagged cover designs in the early 2000s. I was buying CDs when you could spend a day moving between the big record store classical departments in London’s West End. I worked for a while at the one on Oxford Street which claimed to have the largest classical selection in the world. That cured me of my love of those places. It’s a discount sportswear store now.
These days I’m juggling my listening with teaching History, and writing about questions in music that really interest me. Russian music remains the focus; keep your ear to the ground and you may just learn more of the graphic novel about Shostakovich I’m slowly (oh so slowly) drawing. Besides that, writing and exploring musical byways has meant I’ve been lucky enough to meet some of my musical heroes, and to discover that they’re often driven by the same curiosity that keeps me coming back to this stuff, a desire to know what might be out there that could possibly amaze us, who have heard so much. The search continues.