tue 07/07/2020

obituary

Ian Holm, British film's best supporting actor

Ian Holm was once in his local cinema on High Street Kensington, enquiring at the ticket office about concessions for people who appeared in the film they wished to see. The unlucky vendor failed to make the connection between the short customer...

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Larry Kramer: 'I think anger is a wonderful useful emotion'

Larry Kramer, who has died at the age of 84, was the Solzhenitsyn of AIDS who indomitably reported from the gay gulags of Manhattan’s quarantined wards and revolving-door hospices. “I felt very much like a journalist who realises that he has been...

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In memoriam Dmitri Smirnov (1948-2020) - a personal tribute by Gerard McBurney

November 1979… and a small group of Soviet composers (dubbed the "Khrennikov Seven") unexpectedly found themselves the targets of a boorish public assault by that once infamous General Secretary of the Union of Soviet Composers, in a speech at the...

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Remembering John Prine, one of the great American singer-songwriters

John Prine, who has died at the age of 73 from a Covid 19-related illness, was one of the great American folk poets. Having spent his early adulthood pounding the sidewalks as a mailman in Chicago, he never quite shucked that blue-collar aura of the...

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Remembering Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020)

No composer since Stravinsky has defined his age as comprehensively as Krzysztof Penderecki, who died on Sunday aged 86. Initially an uncompromising modernist, Penderecki was one of the composers who put Poland at the forefront of the musical avant-...

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Roy Hudd: 'I was just trying to make 'em laugh'

Roy Hudd, who has died at the age of 83, was the last link to the age of entertainment before television. Born in 1936, he entered the business just as music hall and variety were dying out. But he knew the luminaries of that era: Gracie Fields, Max...

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Jessye Norman, 1945-2019

She was recording Carmen in Paris, and the Radio France auditorium was packed with the press, asking such dazzling questions as "have you been up the Eiffel Tower yet?" and "what do you think of the French men?". I thought, given the statuesque...

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Al Alvarez: 'If I drop dead this minute, I’ve had a ter­rific time'

We like to think of ourselves as a nation of eccentrics, but some take their patriotic duties more seriously than others. Al Alvarez – poet, critic, poker player, rock climber, old-school literary mensch, who has died at the age of 90 – took his...

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Franco Zeffirelli: 'I had this feeling that I was special'

"I am amazed to be still alive. Two hours of medieval torment.” Franco Zeffirelli - who has died at the age of 96 - had spent the day having a lumbar injection to treat a sciatic nerve. You could hear the bafflement in his heavily accented English....

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Obituary: Bibi Andersson 1935-2019

"One talks, the other doesn’t" is about as crude a description as could be of the Swedish masterpiece, Persona. Profoundly experimental even today, Ingmar Bergman’s film was at base about the intense, vampiric encounter between a mute actress...

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Q&A Special: Actor Bruno Ganz on playing Hitler

There is nothing quite like the Iffland-Ring in this country. The property of the Austrian state, for two centuries it has been awarded to the most important German-speaking actor of the age, who after a suitable period nominates his successor and...

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theartsdesk Q&A: Theatre Producer Elyse Dodgson

The Royal Court Theatre has long been a leader in new British drama writing. Thanks to Elyse Dodgson, who has died aged 73, it has built up an international programme like few others in the arts, anywhere. At the theatre, Elyse headed up readings,...

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