Paul Martin: Street 'urchins,' London, UK, 1893 (Courtesy: www.phaidon.com)

Charles Dickens on Homelessness

In essay XIII of The Uncommercial Traveller, Charles Dickens writes of the prevalence of homelessness, as it was found in the London of 1860. The essays that formed the book were drawn from essays written for his weekly periodical All the Year Round, which had a circulation as high as 300,000. London at the time…

Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto 2 in G, Op. 44 (1880)

An underappreciated work, completed two years after the first piano concerto. It premiered not in Moscow, but in New York City. Like Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto, this work was heavily cut to their detriment. For the equilibrium of the whole, the concerto must be played as the composer intended. There are some banalities in the first…

Beethoven, manuscript of the Arietta, Op. 111

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 32 in c, Op. 111 (1822)

Beethoven never repeats himself, insists András Schiff. And adds that this sonata is “one of the wonders of mankind.” It moves, and moves one, in a kind of exaltation, to borrow the word from Anton Kuerti. American musicologist Richard Taruskin, in his massive but marvellous Music in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2010), gives an extensive…

Annihilations of War – Akira Kurosawa – Drunken Angel (1948)

The two central characters are an aged, weary, alcoholic doctor, played remarkably by the great actor Takashi Shimura and a young, alcoholic, tubercular gangster, played remarkably by the great actor Toshiro Mifune. It is the first collaboration between Kurosawa and Mifune, and between Mifune and composer Fumio Hayasaka. The doctor is committed to the combat…

Spectral Amity – Ugetsu – Kenji Mizoguchi (1953)

The beneficent ghosts exist in, and as, sublime and perfect moments of pleasure and wonder, both as projections of desire but also of remembrances—but displace the other, the so-called true, reality, which is frequently malign and invariably inexorable. It is the contrast between the land of ghosts and the land of humanity that is so…