It has become my habit that at the end of each year to put together a “best of” playlist of the music that I have been listening to, or has meant something, that year. Again, I’m a bit late finishing the 2014 version for various reasons, but last week I finished reviewing the tracks and placing them…

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I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum on Saturday for the first time. It was something I’ve been meaning to do for ages as it is the only one of the big four London museums I’ve never been in. I only scratched the surface of its collection and, while I was bowled over by the jewellery gallery, I spent most of my time in the museum’s Asian galleries.

Here is a Ming/Qing dynasty stoneware teapot, made around 1625 – 55, from the V&A’s Chinese gallery. I love the fact that they know the name of the person who made it; Hui Mengchen.

The Story of Music in Fifty Pieces

I really enjoyed Howard Goodall’s Story of Music documentary series when it was on last year. I discovered a few weeks ago that at the same time Radio 3 had run an accompanying series looking Goodall’s choice of 50 of the most influential pieces of music in musical history.

This series is still available as a podcast and I’ve just finished working through the episodes, but more importantly listening to each of the 50 pieces themselves. Listening to the pieces chosen in order is a fascinating journey and does give you a sense of how music has changed and developed. 

The podcast is available here: Radio 3 Story of Music in Fifty Pieces

A playlist with (most of) the 50 pieces is available here on Spotify.

London Sound Survey

This site is “a growing collection of Creative Commons-licensed sound recordings of places, events and wildlife in the capital. Historical references too are gathered to find out how London’s sounds have changed.” Obviously a real labour of love, and very geeky, it is easy to get lost exploring the huge number of resources available here.

Previously, on Earth

The bad news is that I seemed to have overlooked the fact that Alix Mortimer has started blogging again — why did nobody tell me? The good news is that I now have loads of extremely well written, and funny, posts to read to catch up — and mostly about history too. 🙂

Castiglione: Lost Genius

Bad boy artist of the Italian Baroque, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (1609-64), was featured in a BBC4 documentary last week. They highlighted the exhibition currently being run by the Royal Collection. Would really like to see this. I was impressed by the examples of drawings and monotype prints they showed on the programme and there was something about the style that really appealed. The exhibition runs until the 16th March so perhaps I will try and go in the new year.

History of Philosophy (without any gaps) podcast

I’ve been listening to this fantastic podcast for a while now (although have only just discovered its website). Created by Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at the LMU in Munich and at King’s College London, it has been working through the major thinkers and their ideas starting in the ancient world and moving forward, slowly. It has just reached its 150th episode and is now dealing with the thought of medieval Islam. The podcast is accessible to the lay person as Adamson discusses each topic with great clarity and humour. I’ve found much of it really interesting and entertaining and can thoroughly recommend it if you have any interest at all in the history of ideas.

Dad’s 70th Birthday MixTape

Last Monday was my Dad’s 70th birthday and on the Saturday before we organised a big party for family and friends. It was a really successful event and a big part of that success was the music. We had a live band in the shape of The Window Trees — the band my sister sings…

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