Richard Bratby

Richard Bratby is the chief classical music critic of The Spectator

Lukas Degutis, Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Richard Bratby and Toby Young

27 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: Lukas Degutis reports from Riga, exploring Latvia’s policy of expelling Russian speakers (01:16); Ysenda Maxtone Graham explains why she believes applause has no place at a funeral (10:03); paying homage to Christopher Gunning, Richard Bratby argues that composers of ads, film soundtracks and TV theme tunes should be taken more

Serious composers write ad music too

Next month in London, they’re celebrating a composer you’ve probably never heard of, but whose work you’re sure to have heard. If you’ve watched much British TV or cinema in the past half century, you’ll already know his music, and better than you think. A quick test of age: do you remember ‘The Right One’

Gleefully silly: Scottish Opera’s Marx in London! reviewed

A bloke was working the queue outside the Theatre Royal, selling a newspaper called the Communist. ‘Marxist ideas, alive today!’ he shouted into the Glasgow drizzle. Was he part of the show; a Graham Vick-style touch of Total Theatre? In any case, he didn’t seem to be shifting many units. He might have been even

Fresh as an April shower: Opera North’s Albert Herring reviewed

Opera North has launched its spring season with Giles Havergal’s 2013 production of Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring, performed (as conceived) in the Howard Assembly Room – the company’s studio space next door to the Grand Theatre. The economics of opera are a dark and dismal science, but one of the few constants is that ticket

Everything hits the spot: Royal Opera’s Elektra reviewed

Aristotle wrote that classical tragedy should evoke pity and awe. With Richard Strauss’s Elektra, the awe can be taken as read: a certain irreducible level of epicness is written into the score, even if – like Sir Antonio Pappano on the first night of this new production at the Royal Opera – a conductor takes

Irresistible: Hansel and Gretel, at the Royal Opera House, reviewed

Fun fact: Engelbert Humperdinck composed part of Wagner’s Parsifal. Shortly before the première, it was discovered that Wagner’s score didn’t allow time for a crucial scene change. The 27-year-old Humperdinck, then working as Wagner’s assistant, composed a few temporary bars to cover the gap and, rather to his own surprise, found that they met with

The miracle of watching a great string quartet perform

Joseph Haydn, it’s generally agreed, invented the string quartet. And having done so, he re-invented it: again and again. Take his quartet Op. 20, No. 2, of 1772 – the first item in the Takacs Quartet’s recital last week at the Wigmore Hall. The cello propels itself forward and upward, then starts to warble like

Ebullience and majesty: Opera North’s Falstaff reviewed

Opera North has launched a ‘Green Season’, which means (among other things) that the sets and costumes for its new Falstaff are recycled. On one level, that’s nothing new: this eternally underfunded company has been performing miracles of sustainability for years now, and there’s usually at least one production each season that looks like it’s