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The New Criterion

America’s leading review of the arts and intellectual life
- Harry Mount, the London Telegraph



Bernard Williams, journalist

by Walker Mimms

Posted: Apr 16, 2014 01:22 PM

I first encountered the work of the English philosopher Bernard Williams in an early undergraduate course on ethics. The essay was one of Williams’s classics—“A Critique of Utilitarianism.” When I think back on the course, this little piece of criticism is, often before the giants that overshadowed it, among the first to come to mind, for a number of reasons. The confidence of Williams’s grasp on hairy distinctions, with their “barbarous,” jargony names; the vividness of his thought experiments; the broadness of his view, which lifted such minute study to a real sense of purpose: “No one can hold,” he begins, “that everything, of whatever category that has value, has it in virtue of its consequences.” Here was a real writer.

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Strauss, Gergiev, and geopolitics

by Eric C. Simpson

Posted: Apr 15, 2014 03:33 PM

Valery Gergiev; photo: The Mariinsky Foundation of America

I had the pleasure this past Friday of hearing an exceptional concert at Carnegie Hall. It was the Munich Philharmonic—Maybe not an orchestra on everyone's top-10 list, but a very good orchestra nonetheless. They happened to have with them a conductor who is, in fact, on a lot of top-10 lists in Valery Gergiev.

Lorin Maazel was supposed to conduct the weekend’s concerts but had to withdraw due to illness. The Saturday crowd ended up with Fabio Luisi, and we got Gergiev, fresh off a plane from Europe and due to fly to London at 5:00 AM.

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Piano and plastic bag

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 14, 2014 12:35 PM

Khatia Buniatashvili; photo by Julia Wesely

Last Monday night, Khatia Buniatishvili played a program in Weill Recital Hall (the upstairs venue at Carnegie Hall). She is a young pianist—age twenty-six—and as that “vili” in her name tells you, she’s from Georgia: the ex-Soviet kind, not the Jimmy Carter kind. There are now two “vilis” in our musical life, and their names are very similar. The other is the violinist Lisa Batiashvili.

I had reviewed an album of Khatia’s—all-Liszt—and reviewed it favorably. But I had never heard her in the flesh. If you really want to know about a musician, there is no substitute for live (and repeated hearings).

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

by James Bowman

Posted: Apr 11, 2014 12:46 PM

“If you insist upon fighting to protect me, or ‘our’ country,” wrote Virginia Woolf in Three Guineas, a book which Theodore Dalrymple thought ought rather to have been called How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved, “let it be understood, soberly and rationally between us, that you are fighting to gratify a sex instinct which I cannot share; to procure benefits which I have not shared and probably will not share. . . For as a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”

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A peak experience

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Apr 07, 2014 05:06 PM

Matthew Polenzani; photo by Sim Cannety-Clarke

Indiana University is known for two things, at least—basketball and music. IU has one of the best music schools in the country, and therefore in the world. Two weekends ago, I attended a concert on that campus. Matthew Polenzani, the American tenor, sang Die schöne Müllerin with Kevin Murphy. 

Kevin is a pianist and conductor, who teaches at IU. So does his wife, Heidi Grant Murphy, the soprano. I call him “Kevin” because he is a friend of mine. I’ve mentioned this friendship on this blog before.

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Fake it 'til you make it

by Colin Fleming

Posted: Apr 07, 2014 01:56 PM

Elmyr de Hory (1906-1976), Odalisque, in the style of Henri Matisse (French, 1869 – 1954), 1974; oil on canvas. Collection of Mark Forgy. Photo: Robert Fogt.

Most television viewers are familiar with the sort of program where an over-enthused seller saunters into a store aiming to reap a cash windfall on some relic of yore, only to have the would-be buyer coo that forgeries abound in these matters, and always have. Cut, then, to our aggrieved item owner in the parking lot, disputing how something centuries old could be a testament to charlatanism. Cut, further, to “Intent to Deceive” currently at the D’Amour Museum, an exhibit of more than sixty works alternately chiding, extolling, questioning, and reassessing the careers and intentions—and madcap backstories—of five master forgers.

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Stravinsky's Average Joe

by Andrew Koenig

Posted: Apr 04, 2014 06:20 PM

Igor Stravinsky with the choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky; image: Wikimedia commons

This past Tuesday at Morse Recital Hall  in New Haven, a number of artists affiliated with Yale University, including alumni and students of the Schools of Drama and Music, put on a production of The Soldier’s Tale in New Haven that sought to stay true to Stravinsky’s “fairground theatre” conception. In so doing, they have given the piece its full due, interweaving the balletic, the musical, and the theatrical without unduly emphasizing or downplaying any one of these elements. Now, the production comes to New York, where it can be seen at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall on Sunday evening.

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An evening with Simone Dinnerstein

by Roger Kimball | from PJ Media

Posted: Apr 02, 2014 02:12 PM

Glenn Gould used to be my favorite interpreter of Bach. Since Simone Dinnerstein’s recordings of Bach began appearing, beginning with her Goldberg Variations in 2007, Gould has assumed the somewhat less exalted status as “one of my favorite interpreters” of Bach.  My absolute favorite these past 6 or 7 years is Dinnerstein. Indeed, she is [...]

go to PJ Media

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About ArmaVirumque


( AHR-mah wih-ROOM-kweh)


In the Aeneid, the Roman poet Virgil sang of "arms and a man" (Arma virumque cano). Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.


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