Tag Archives: Boulanger

From Boulanger to Stockhausen


This is the time of year when new books are launched onto the market in book fairs across Europe in time for the run up to Christmas.  So I was delighted to receive a package in the post containing two copies of the hard back book, From Boulanger to Stockhausen, from the publishers, Boydell & Brewer, with my painting, Deep Blue, on the dust cover.  It also contained a personal letter from the author of the book, Bálint András Varga, thanking me for letting the publishers use my image.  It was a touching letter and I felt humbled by its contents.  Bálint Varga said he had loved my painting the moment he saw it and I was immediately reminded of a quote by Robert Motherwell:

What could be more interesting, or in the end, more ecstatic, than in those rare moments when you see another person look at something you’ve made, and realize that they got it exactly, that your heart jumped to their heart with nothing in between.

I haven’t had a chance to open the book yet, (just a sneaky peek between the covers) but if the critical write-ups on the back cover is anything to go by, I am looking forward to a good read.   Based on interviews with composers and musicians, “this is a book of voices“, writes Paul Griffiths, author, and “an important document for new generations of musicians and music lovers“, Riccardo Chailly, Gewandhauskapellmeister, Leipzig.  As musicians and fine artists share a common language, this parallel view of the creative process will be a fascinating read.

There is also an autobiographical section in the book in which Varga, who now lives in Vienna, talks about his Jewish identity and his life in postwar Budapest.  “He has helped me to remember my own not too distant past.”  András Schiff, musician.


I have already formed a delightful view of the author from his endearing letters.  This will definitely be my special Christmas read this year.



Filed under Art Works, my sketchbook pages, The Artist as Pilgrim

Musical Interlude

new book jacket

new book jacket

Dropped off 21 ‘stock’ paintings to local sale room (David Lays) yesterday for their upcoming picture sale next month.  I’ve left a reserve that covers the cost of the frame so if they don’t sell I can at least recycle the frame.

Just read in one of the artist’s blog posts in Artists Talking, (‘an’ magazine) about being rejected by Axis.  I’m pleased I’m not the only one!  Rejection is a normal part of the critical times we live in.   We must just keep buggering on (as Churchill famously once said – I know I’ve quoted this before but it’s a favourite).  I’m going to apply to join the Newlyn Society of Artists ……hope I have more joy here.

Attended an inspirational symposium, The Work Of Art In Critical Times, hosted by UCF last week-end in their recruitment drive to enroll people on their new MA courses.  I decided, finally, I would bite the bullet and submit an expression of interest to do a research degree.

I now have a week before the submission deadline to come up with a compelling argument.  The last few days I’ve been thrashing about as I do at the start of any new project trying to transform the scrabbled egg bits of my brain into a calmly analytical, matter-of-fact missive, like this sort of thing is an everyday occurrence for me.  Which it’s not, especially when it matters….don’t want to fall at the first hurdle on this one.  I’ve written several drafts, each one trying to bore down closer to the truth, my truth, and chucking away great chunks of fluffy prose by engaging the ‘mind blinking’ parts of the brain to come up with the insight I need.  (Did you see that fascinating BBC Horizon program last evening about the Creative Brain?)  However, the closer I get to what I need to say, the more excited I become about the project.

Had a nice surprise this week.  Michael (see Deep Blue) sent me a picture of the new jacket for the book they have published, From Boulanger to Stockhausen (published by Boydell & Brewer, a small academic publisher based in Suffolk) with my image ‘Deep Blue’ on the front.  As Michael explained when discussing the book with the author, “…….I showed him the blue abstract on your web page and told him we should use something like that on the jacket, thinking he would ask one of his contacts in Hungary to find an abstract image.  Having seen it, Bálint has taken instantly to your painting and wants us to use that one on the book jacket.”

Of course, I’m delighted and I think the result looks great too.  I do hope it helps attract attention when they take it to the London Book Fair in April.  Here is his description of the book:

In From Boulanger to Stockhausen: Interviews and a Memoir, the Hungarian-born musician Bálint András Varga presents interviews with noted international figures in twentieth-century music. Varga’s subjects include such luminaries as György Ligeti, Eugene Ormandy, Alfred Brendel, Isaac Stern, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, and Artur Rubinstein. The interviews are complemented by Varga’s memoir, a fascinating account of growing up in postwar socialist Hungary and of his career in radio and music publishing.

Stockhausen was a bit a controversial composer but I really like some of his more abstract ideas on phonics.  I’m looking forward to my complimentary copy!


Filed under my sketchbook pages