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The New Criterion

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



Tanglewood Dispatch

by Eric C. Simpson

Posted: Jul 21, 2015 02:10 PM

Sir Neville Marriner and Paul Lewis (Credit: Hillary Scott)


While the Mostly Mozart Festival prepares to open its season with Brahms, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood served up a Saturday evening of Mozart, and nothing else. This is a prospect that didn't necessarily appeal to me in theory. To lead off with a major admission, I don't think of Mozart as one of my favorite composers; one certainly has to respect his genius and the beauty of his works, but I find he doesn't deliver the sort of emotional punch I often crave in a musical performance, which a listener is more likely to find in the great Romantics.

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Cinderella story

by Jay Nordlinger

Posted: Jul 20, 2015 10:37 AM

Sergei Prokofiev

In its recent season, the American Ballet Theatre put on two Prokofiev ballets, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. Those are the big two, in the Prokofiev corpus. There are others.

Romeo and Juliet was written in 1935. Cinderella was written, on and off, from 1940 to 1944. That was not a great time in the Soviet Union. Then again, neither was 1935.

From R&J, Prokofiev made three orchestral suites and a piano suite. From Cinderella, Prokofiev again made three orchestral suites, but this time three piano suites.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 17, 2015 12:21 PM

The Banquet Scene, Gypsum wall panel relief fragment, 645 BC – 635 BC. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Recent links of note:

Government shelves foxhunting vote after SNP opposition
Rowena Mason, The Guardian
How quickly hope turns to despair! A mere week after Tories thought they would be able to repeal easily the more onerous aspects of the 2004 Hunting Act, a coalition led by the SNP has dashed the plans. Never mind that the current act allows for traditional foxhunting in Scotland and never mind that the SNP had previously maintained they would vote only on issues affecting their home country: Nicola Sturgeon and her acolytes can’t seem to leave well enough alone.

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"Unfinished" at the Courtauld

by Dominic Green

Posted: Jul 16, 2015 10:30 AM

Perino del Vaga, Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist, c. 1528-37, © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London 

William Blake, in his annotations to Reynolds's Works, records how Michael Moser, the first Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools, advised him to study prints of Charles Le Brun and Rubens, not the "old, Hard, Stiff & Dry Unfinished Works" of Raphael and Michelangelo. Infuriated, Blake replied, "These things that you call Finished are not Even Begun; how can they then be Finished? The Man who does not know The Beginning, never can know the End of Art."

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Remembering Hilton Kramer on Rembrandt

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 15, 2015 03:35 PM

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Self-Portait with Gorget, ca. 1629, Oil on Panel, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

As I've mentioned before, anniversaries, despite our culture's undue fascination with them, can prove useful as reminders for critical assessment. And so it is today, on the anniversary of Rembrandt's birth, that we look back to Hilton Kramer's April 1988 piece "Rembrandt as Warhol: Svetlana Alpers's 'Enterprise.'" Kramer's masterful lamentation of the subjugation of art history to the social sciences is worth a read any day, but especially with Rembrandt already on the mind.


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Setting a "Watchman"

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 14, 2015 05:59 PM


Today marks the publication of (arguably) the most anticipated literary release of the year, Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. Many opinions have been offered on the work since its first chapter was released, but in our June issue, Anthony Daniels offered his thoughts ahead of the book's publication. In his piece Daniels assesses the legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird and the prospect of Go Set a Watchman, and also offers reflections on the work's resonance in his life. Click here to read that piece.


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The Critic's Notebook for July 13, 2015

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 14, 2015 10:25 AM

John Singer, Sargent, Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife, Oil on canvas, 1885. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Sign up to receive “Critic's Notebook” in your inbox every week—it only takes a few seconds and it's completely free! “Critic's Notebook” is a weekly preview of the best to read, see, and hear in New York and beyond, compiled by the editors of The New Criterion.

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In case you missed it

by Benjamin Riley

Posted: Jul 10, 2015 11:26 AM

The Crawick Multiverse/ © Charles Jencks

Recent links of note:

MPs to get free vote to relax fox hunting ban next week
Christopher Hope and Steven Swinford, The Telegraph
Time to dust off those breeches; traditional fox hunting may be back in England by Boxing Day. While most keen eyes focus on the Tory budget announced this week, the rurally inclined have something else to celebrate: David Cameron will put the 2004 Hunting Act (which outlawed hunts of more than two hounds) to a free vote, which, if passed, will go to the House of Lords for an autumn debate. The Conservatives expect the partial-repeal to pass easily—surely a cause for celebration both at 10 Downing Street and in environs farther afield.

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Clay’s “Immortal Utterance” revisited

by James Bowman

Posted: Jul 09, 2015 01:05 PM

Jim Webb via

When I was a youngster, all school children knew the story of Henry Clay’s having said, “I had rather be right than president.” At least they knew the quotation, even if they didn’t always know the context of “the Great Compromiser’s” paradoxical refusal to budge from his own middle-of-the-road position on slavery, the principal matter of controversy of the day—as a result of which refusal he was attacked by his fellow Whigs and lost whatever chance he may have had at the presidency. It was a rather thrilling moment in our history and one which we may even hope to live long enough to see repeated by Donald Trump.

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The New Criterion

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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