'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)
In this episode, we spoke to Dr Caroline Potter about her most recent book, ‘Erik Satie: A Parisian Composer and His World’, published by The Boydell Press in 2016, which 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.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (with Philip Ross Bullock)
In this episode, we spoke to Professor Philip Ross Bullock 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.
Thomas Tallis (with Kerry McCarthy)
In this episode, we spoke to Dr Kerry McCarthy 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.
Ludwig van Beethoven (with Laura Tunbridge)
In this episode, we spoke about Professor Laura Tunbridge’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.
Leonard Bernstein (with Paul R. Laird)
This episode focussed on Professor Paul R. Laird’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.
On Biographies (with Joanne Cormac)
In this episode, we spoke to Dr Joanne Cormac 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.