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20th Century Modernism: Some Thoughts

In my recently-released book and TV series, The Story of Music, I made some comments about the avant-garde in classical music in the 20th century which have sparked debate and – in some quarters – some confusion and misrepresentation of my observations which it might be good to address, briefly. I am not a missionary,

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The end of music in schools as we know it?

There is nothing wrong in wanting to improve standards in schools, especially of ‘core’ skills such as reading, writing, basic arithmetic, and so on. It is the prerogative of any Secretary of State to do what he or she can to better equip young people for the highly competitive global market in which they are hoping to make their livings, and through them, UK PLC. If the E-Bac is a solution, and it works, then we should all applaud it. However, it may also spell the beginning of the end of music as an academic subject in all but a tiny handful of schools, intentionally or not.

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Howard Goodall on Enchanted Carols

I am sure I am not alone in thinking of the twenty or so best-known Christmas carols as the perfect embodiment of the spirit and message of the festival, more so than all the other trappings of the season, adorable as they are – the trees, the baubles, the reindeer and that off-duty fireman/Rotary Club

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Planting the seeds of song

There is an ethnic group of tribes who live on the Hunan-Guizhou-Guangxi region borders in China called the Dong. They are many fascinating aspects of their culture, like the fact that their indigenous language was only written down for the first time in 1949 after the Maoist Revolution, or that they have constructed huge ‘drum

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'Sweet dreams are made of this'

Sunday Times Culture: Comment, 12 November 2006 The weight of history hangs heavily upon classical music’s shoulders. In the carefree, people-friendly world of popular music, Sandi Thom can sing ‘Oh, I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair)’, not batting en eyelid at the absurdity or the historical inaccuracy of the

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Howard Goodall on composing A Winter's Tale

I have wanted to adapt Shakespeare’s beautiful late play The Winter’s Tale for many years. There are several reasons for this. Whilst it’s not as overtly ‘magical’ as The Tempest (which Shakespeare wrote at roughly the same time) it has its own very special brand of magic in it, especially the final scene, in which like Mozart’s inspirational opera Don Giovanni, a statue apparently comes to life, transforming all who witness the miracle.

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[An article by Howard about writing the music for the first Enchanted Voices CD] There are eight so-called ‘Beatitudes’ in St Matthew’s telling of Jesus of Nazareth’s sermon on the mount, the English word ‘beatitude’ coming from the Latin word ‘beati’ meaning blessed, as it appeared in the medieval Bible. As told by Matthew, they

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Eternal Light Promotional Shot

Scoring the dance of death

You would expect to see a requiem performed by a choir and orchestra. But a dance company? Howard Goodall explains how Eternal Light took flight.

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Howard Goodall, Alan Johnson and some primary pupils at State of Play 2007

National Singing Ambassador Update February 2007

Since the Secretary of State’s announcement of my appointment as ‘Singing Ambassador’ I have been inundated with messages of support, offers of help, examples of best practice and general enthusiasm for our campaign, which has been incredibly gratifying. To all of you who have written to me – thank you! Not surprisingly, many have asked

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Olympic Chorus

Editorial essay in the Music Manifesto Report no.2 Singing is as natural and enjoyable to human beings as laughing. It is easy and universal, bonding us first to our mothers and then to each other. It complements our grasp of language and communication and accelerates our learning processes. It does not belong exclusively to one

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