The new issue of the London Magazine (so much more fun than the dreary London Review of Books) has an essay by David Newbold on Sir Neville Cardus, gentle music critic and cricket correspondent of the Manchester Guardian for more than 50 years.
Here’s Cardus on top form, writing about Franz Schubert: “We can think of him as one who strayed when very young into Mozart’s groomed garden and picked a bloom or two, then went along the slopes of the height tossed up by Beethoven’s earthquake, and near the summit found wildflowers in plenty. It is a wonder he was not arrested by the custodians of Mount Parnassus for loitering without visible means of support – in other words, without counterpoint. He was unmistakably the world’s first vagrant composer.”
Incidentally, one of the last acts of Schubert’s short life was to sign up for a rigorous course of counterpoint. If he’d lived, would it have enhanced his lyrical genius? I’m not so sure.

Damian Thompson


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