Saving Faust

Here’s my column from the Standpoint June edition: it’s an abridged version of the talk I gave about musical Fausts at the Royal Festival Hall a month ago, which preceded a concert involving the Wagner overture and Liszt Faust Symphony. Hope you enjoy it.

Sorry for lack of blogging this past week: I’m officially convalescing and haven’t been up to going anywhere or doing anything much, and I didn’t think you’d be especially interested in the state of the aphids on our rose bushes. But I did find a scorpion under the rock, in the shape of a 4% cut in the Arts Council England grant, a cut larger than the slash to other budgets funded by the DCMS. That bodes no good for the autumn when all these initial chops are going to look like minnow-nibbles. An initial attempt at optimism sparked near fisticuffs on my Facebook page…but I do believe, and hope not erroneously, that arts practitioners these days are generally resourceful and lateral-thinking people and that the best of them will find a way to navigate through the dark days without depriving the UK of its thriving cultural scene. [touches every piece of wood in sight.]

Here’s Charlotte Higgins with the lowdown in The Guardian. She appears to have threatened to break Jeremy Hunt’s legs if he hurt the arts, and now says it’s time for him to start wearing shin-pads. 

An autumn note

“For many, the end of this uneasy year cannot come quickly enough”

An ordinary killing

Ian Cobain’s book uses the killing of Millar McAllister to paint a meticulous portrait of the Troubles

Greater—not wiser

John Mullan elucidates the genius of Charles Dickens