6 episodes

'Crafting Musical Lives' is a podcast that centres on the creation of biographical narratives pertaining to musicians throughout the ages. Join Nicholas Ong, Terrence Wong, and their guests in exploring the process of life-writing and the methods adopted by biographers to create a comprehensive account of the lives of musicians.

Crafting Musical Lives Crafting Musical Lives

    • Music

'Crafting Musical Lives' is a podcast that centres on the creation of biographical narratives pertaining to musicians throughout the ages. Join Nicholas Ong, Terrence Wong, and their guests in exploring the process of life-writing and the methods adopted by biographers to create a comprehensive account of the lives of musicians.

    Erik Satie (with Caroline Potter)

    Erik Satie (with Caroline Potter)

    In this episode, we spoke to Dr Caroline Potter, who is Visiting Reader in French Music at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Caroline has published books with Routledge on composers Nadia and Lili Boulanger, and Henri Dutilleux. She is a frequent broadcaster for organisations including the BBC, and was Series Advisor to the Philharmonia Orchestra's 2014 season titled ‘City of Light: Paris 1900-1950’.
    We spoke to Caroline about her most recent book, ‘Erik Satie: A Parisian Composer and His World’, published by The Boydell Press in 2016, and was named the ‘Sunday Times Classical Music Book of the Year’. She spoke about Satie’s place in the bohemian and artistic milieu of late nineteenth-century Paris, the challenge of extracting his narrative from his network of artists, as well as his influence on future generations of musicians.

    • 42 min
    Pyotr Tchaikovsky (with Philip Ross Bullock)

    Pyotr Tchaikovsky (with Philip Ross Bullock)

    This episode’s guest is Professor Philip Ross Bullock, who is professor of Russian literature and music at the University of Oxford. Philip’s areas of expertise include theories of gender and sexuality, interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between literature and the other arts, and the study of translation, reception and cultural exchange. His books include The Feminine in the Prose of Andrey Platonov and Rosa Newmarch and Russian Music in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century England, both published by Routledge.
    We spoke to Philip about his 2016 biography of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Philip touched on a variety of topics, including the sifting through of a plethora of historical sources, Tchaikovsky’s unique relationship with his private patron, as well as the differences between Russian and Western European perceptions of Tchaikovsky’s music and sexuality.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Thomas Tallis (with Kerry McCarthy)

    Thomas Tallis (with Kerry McCarthy)

    In this episode, we spoke to Dr Kerry McCarthy, a musician and author known for her work on early English music. Kerry has published articles in the journals The Musical Times and Early Music. She was given the Nicolas Slonimsky Award for Outstanding Musical Biography in 2014 for her book on Renaissance composer William Byrd, published by Oxford University Press.
    We spoke to Kerry about her new book on Thomas Tallis published last year. In addition to speaking about her personal experience performing Renaissance polyphony, Kerry elaborated on her unique yet necessary approach to structuring the biography. She also shared some fascinating thoughts on what life was like in Tudor England.

    • 41 min
    Ludwig van Beethoven (with Laura Tunbridge)

    Ludwig van Beethoven (with Laura Tunbridge)

    This episode’s guest is Professor Laura Tunbridge, who is Professor of Music at the University of Oxford. Laura’s research centres on German Romanticism, with a particular interest in reception through criticism, performance, and composition. Her books include The Song Cycle by Cambridge University Press and Singing in the Age of Anxiety by the University of Chicago Press. Laura is the recipient of a three-year Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust for a project titled A Social and Sonic History of the String Quartet.
    In this episode, we spoke about Laura’s new biography of Ludwig van Beethoven, titled Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces, published by Viking earlier this year. Apart from sharing about the beginnings of this biography and her encounters with Beethoven’s music, Laura elaborated on her discoveries on the social, political, and economical aspects of the composer’s life and how she sought to present this information to a wide readership.

    • 43 min
    Leonard Bernstein (with Paul R. Laird)

    Leonard Bernstein (with Paul R. Laird)

    In this episode, we spoke to Professor Paul Laird. Paul is Professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas where he teaches courses in Baroque music, twentieth-century music, the history of musical theatre, and American music. He has published extensively over his academic career. Select books include The Baroque Cello Revival by Scarecrow Press, The Chichester Psalms of Leonard Bernstein by Pendragon Press, and the Historical Dictionary of Leonard Bernstein co-authored with Hsun Lin and published by Rowman & Littlefield.
    This episode focussed on Paul’s biography of the American musical giant Leonard Bernstein, which was published by Reaktion Books in 2018 as part of the ‘Critical Lives’ series. In addition to highlighting the need to organise the parallel careers of Bernstein and some technical limitations in writing this biography, Paul also shared his impressions and experience with the man himself.

    • 38 min
    On Biographies (with Joanne Cormac)

    On Biographies (with Joanne Cormac)

    This episode’s guest is Dr Joanne Cormac, who is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham. Joanne’s research interests include the music of Franz Liszt, nineteenth-century music and culture, historiography, and biography. Her articles are published in the journal 19th-century music and The Musical Quarterly, and her books include Liszt and the Symphonic Poem by Cambridge University Press and 30-Second Classical Music by Ivy Press.
    We spoke to Joanne about developments in the processes of life-writing since the nineteenth-century. Joanne also elaborated on the social functions of biographies and on how one ought to approach mediums of the like, including biopics and autobiographies.

    • 45 min

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