"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
click HERE and access his website
Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

New Music at the War Museum

To the Imperial War Museum last night for a fine concert of newly commissioned pieces for strings played exquisitely by the Solaris Quartet. The Museum decided to launch a Young Composer Competition with the commission to write a piece prompted by the current "In Memoriam" exhibition at the Museum until September.

The winner was Ben Cox for his piece with that name. Four other young composers (Richard Norris, Robert Peate and Edward Nesbitt and Duncan Ward) had their shortlisted pieces played and I particularly liked Ward's, "Eugene Cruft's Radio" which was clever and original.

Three things struck me about these five composers: they looked very young indeed, they were very good, and they were all male. How many young women entered I wonder?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Marbles and the Cultural Elite

I have been a very dilatory blogger recently (reading too many damned books) but I am forced to write today having read a piece by Stephen Moss in this morning's Guardian about the Parthenon/Elgin marbles. A spokesperson for the British Museum is quoted and one can hear the fluting tone in this spectacularly arrogant piece of nonsense: "In Greece the sculptures can be viewed as part of the history of Athens and the Acropolis; here, they can be seen as part of a world history." Where does one begin to respond to such clottish impertinence?

Perhaps by contemplating quietly the island of Sifnos in the sun last week (see above) where, just as Lord Elgin wrenched off a caryatid from the Parthenon and hoiked it back to his Scottish mansion, breaking it in the process, a citizen of Kastro, the twisting medieval town on the promontory shown here, long ago borrowed a classical pillar to support their balcony in the main street. Yes, it should have been in the little archaeological museum but it looked nice in the sun where it originally sat.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Rupert Brooke And Other Matters

A blogless two weeks comes to an end as I return from 13 days drifting lazily through the Greek islands. I started at Skyros where Rupert Brooke ("some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England") is buried in a solid marble tomb set in a local olive grove some distance from the shore but well known to the local (highly-priced) taxi drivers like Manolis who paces up and down having a fag while we pay our homage.  Brooke's heroic patriotic stuff was written in the first phase of the Great War when this was what was wanted from the poets pre-Somme but actually he did not die like some Arthurian knight in the lust of battle (yes, my holiday reading included Malory's Morte d'Arthur) but from blood-poisoning from an insect bite on 23rd April 1915 the night before his fellow sailors left the island for the Dardanelles and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.  The bronze statue seen here of an "ideal poet" absurdly romanticises Brooke and it was interesting to discover that when it was unveiled in 1931 some of the locals were unhappy about its anatomical specificity.

A Note on Twitter
I have dabbled in Twitter but returning to a thicket of tweets and chirps I realise that this is something I can no longer sustain if my brain is to be kept in one piece so I am retiring from the battlefield.