Sir James MacMillan


unborn child

Revolution has been the slogan and banner for generations of certain types of creative idealists. But what have these fashionable revolutions to do with a love of life, or even of a love of the poor or the outsider? They seem more concerned with a love of transgression.

William Blake: The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun (detail), 1810.

The search for spirituality seems ubiquitous these days. But in what sense can we call a spirituality made in our own image, to suit our own comforts, to fit our own schedules and agendas, transcendent of anything?

Joseph Willibrord Mähler: Ludwig van Beethoven (detail), 1804-5.

The symphonic tradition, and Beethoven’s monumental impact on it, is an imposing legacy which looms like a giant ghost over the shoulder of any living composer foolhardy enough to consider adding to it. Some turn away in terror and even disdain, preferring to carve out a rejectionary stance. It might be the safer option.

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