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Recent research into Bach, the Proms, and Music in Art

Happy Birthday Sir Henry Wood

March 03, 2019

“I shopped all morning. Ties, shoes, ordering a fresh supply of cigars and cigarettes, and my one vice – glacé stem ginger.”This was the conductor Sir Henry Wood on what he described as one of the happiest birthdays of his life. As we celebrate 150 years since his birth, Wood’s own account of his 69th birthday draws together the strands of his life in music and hints at the topic of my forthcoming book which uncovers his role in the English Bach revival. But back to 3 March 1938; ‘What a morning!’ he exclaimed.

My new book, published this June - Sir Henry Wood: Champion of J.S. Bach

May 31, 2019

Sir Henry J. Wood (1869-1944), co-founder and chief conductor of the Proms for nearly half a century, is often noted for his championing of the leading composers of the day, including Richard Strauss, Debussy, Rachmaninov, Ravel and Vaughan Williams. Less known is Wood's pivotal role in advocating and performing the music of J.S. Bach, much of which, incredibly, was unknown in England at the turn of the twentieth century.

Meticulously researched...Wood's vital role in the English Bach revival is revealed for the first time in all its considerable glory. FIVE STARS. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

Engaging and meticulous...provides a vivid picture of the changing public taste as well as a chronicle of Wood's passion for a composer whom he brought into the mainstream...what a heroic tale this splendidly detailed book tells. Both in its story of Henry Wood's enthusiasm to build a public for great music, and its story of the changing reception of Bach, it is a fascinating contribution to the emerging history of the early music revival. GRAMOPHONE

The James Strecker Interview

January 01, 2018

My interview for James Strecker: A Reviewer's Interview with People in the Arts.ntion...

Bach's Unsung Champion: Sir Henry J. Wood

March 21, 2017

The paper is a current summary of my research into the role of Sir Henry Wood in the English Bach awakening. In many ways it is an extended abstract for my forthcoming publication. 

Music, Refinement, Masculinity

January 02, 2017

The mid-eighteenth-century ‘conversation piece’ Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape was painted by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) when he was still making a name for himself as landscape and portrait painter. It was acquired jointly by Gainsborough’s House and Tate in 1993 and is regarded as a masterpiece of this early phase of his career.

This project draws together expertise from the fields of art history, conservation, history of commerce and musicology to throw light on the social and cultural milieu that gave rise to the commission. It asks as many questions about the financial and social privileges of the portrait’s sitters as it does about Gainsborough himself, proposing new ways of understanding why Muilman, Crokatt and Keable presented themselves making music in the midst of a remote rustic landscape. (Dr. John Chu)

Reconstructing Sir Henry J. Wood’s ‘New War Hymn’

April 25, 2014

My reconstruction of Wood’s ‘New War Hymn’ was performed on Sunday 3rd August alongside Academy alumnus Gareth Malone and his Military Wives Choir. In this interview I explained how Wood’s ‘New War Hymn’ came to feature at the 2014 Proms, 100 years after its composition.

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