Gramophone's editor introduces the February issue of the magazine - and welcomes suggestions for additions to our Hall of Fame
It isn’t every month that we decide to devote – and indeed expand – the entire section of the magazine dedicated to features to one particular composer (we last did it with Mahler, to which you responded warmly). Few listeners, singers or conductors would argue with our decision to do this for Verdi, whose bicentenary is being marked this year. In fact all three are represented in our special 17-page feature; singers in the form of Renée Fleming and Bryn Terfel, conductors by way of Gianandrea Noseda and Sir Mark Elder, and listeners via our opera experts, whose deep knowledge of the works and interpretation tells the story of Verdi and his compositional process. It’s this aspect – how Verdi wrote the works he did – that we’ve decided to explore through the prism of four of his major operas from different eras of his life. We hope it enriches your enjoyment of performances you are bound to hear this year of one of the great dramatists of operatic history, one capable of music both profound and populist, and which continues to engage, enthral and entertain audiences today.
When reflecting on Macbeth for our celebratory issue, Noseda said: ‘There was nothing that anticipated it, and nothing followed it for a while’ – and in this he compared it to Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. It’s a theme we’ll follow up next month when we explore the impact – then and now – of this groundbreaking work which, a century on, still retains its ability to shock and sound thrillingly contemporary.
Verdi, The Rite of Spring…composers and compositions that changed music (to which we’ll add of course, later on in the year, Wagner). In 2012 we launched the Gramophone Hall of Fame, into which we welcomed 50 artists, producers and executives who, like Verdi and Stravinsky, left legacies that became an integral part of all that followed. We’ll be welcoming in another set of names later this year and, while we draw together our longlist, please do email me with suggestions for people you’d like to see celebrated.
Martin Cullingford is editor of Gramophone - brought up in Britten country on the Suffolk coast, when not practising the guitar he can often be found enjoying Evensong.