Guardian UK, Val Wilmer, “Obituary: Clare Deniz”

[…] As a black woman moving in snobbish circles, Deniz swiftly recognised the need to comport herself with dignity; she had stylish dresses and tailored costumes made for her, and bought the best accessories she could afford. Such behaviour was important for black artists establishing themselves in prewar days, but, although she was seen by some as a fashionable adjunct to her husband, as a pianist she frequently worked more than Frank, the guitar being an optional instrument. […]

Guardian UK, Stuart Jeffries, “The black Dvorak”

[…] Why have there been so few black classical composers? Musicologist Samuel A Floyd asks this question in his impressive book The Power of Black Music (OUP), and gives two answers: “First, emerging from slavery only in the 1860s, significant numbers of African-Americans were barred from majority-culture musical institutions and, consequently, were generally prohibited from learning and internalising the behaviours, myths and rituals associated with concert-hall practices. Second, many African-American composers ignored or rejected the myths and rituals of their own culture, making impossible the fusing of their traditional myths with the rituals of the concert hall.”

Both of Floyd’s points suggest that a better question might be: why have there been so many black classical composers? It’s a thorny one, embracing such tricky but gripping sub-questions as: was Beethoven black, and if so does it matter?

Does the fact that Haydn was known as the Moor suggest that he could be black too, and if so, should we re-evaluate his work? Do black jazz composers such as Duke Ellington (who wrote suites, serenades and other classical-sounding stuff) and Scott Joplin (who composed an opera) count, and if not why not? […]

Guardian UK, Alexis Petridis, ‘I hope your ears don’t bleed’

[…] Worried that if I just sit around my flat listening to Throbbing Gristle all day, I might start baying myself, I venture outside. This proves to be the biggest error of judgment I have made since embarking on the project in the first place. It’s difficult to know exactly what would be the ideal activity to engage in while Throbbing Gristle provide the soundtrack. But I can reveal that shopping in central London is not among them. A journey by Tube is even more like a descent into some netherworld of the damned than usual. The heaving crowds of Oxford Street, nerve-jangling at the best of times, are rendered nightmarish.

I stand it until about 4pm: less than halfway through my 24-hour marathon. Aware I am regarding my fellow shoppers with bulging eyes and am in danger of developing a twitch, I rip off my headphones. I am unprepared for what happens next. My ears are assaulted by the most appalling noise I have heard all day: children screaming, couples arguing, teenage girls bawling at each other, buskers playing tinny carols and, underpinning it all, Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine. I replace my headphones. […]

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