Category: Music & Musicians

Pop stars, great composers, intense compositions, music is the playground of the planets.

Just A Little Broken: RIP George Michael
Fragile, strong, sweet, sharp — a little broken. George Michael was a superstar with a seemingly boundless musical gift, but it was his vulnerability that made him special. Something, somewhere, had been cracked (one felt), and, like a “golden repair” on a Japanese pot, it made George Michael [...]
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Magnified, Sanctified: Leonard Cohen
A poet, a mystic, a lover, a joker — a man. Leonard Cohen, who died last week at the age of 82, wrote complexly layered lyrics, with deceptively simple tunes. His songs coil and then unwind, as images and fragments of stories twist freely into your imagination. “There is no God in Heaven [...]
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A Musical Zodiac: Interview with the Composer
  Since music and astrology are in some senses soul-sisters, it’s surprising (perhaps) that so little music based on our cosmic art has been written in the classical tradition. So it’s hugely satisfying that award-winning composer, visiting professor at the Royal College of Music, [...]
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A Musical Zodiac (Tonight)
A Musical Zodiac, composed and conducted by Debbie Wiseman (with sleeve notes by Jonathan Cainer). Launched September 16.   A crab yearns for the moon, a seamstress stitches in a pool of sunlight, twins play — Debbie Wiseman’s musical character sketches of the signs of the Zodiac are [...]
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In the Key of Gemini: Charles Aznavour
In his long, long musical career, the great French balladeer Charles Aznavour has written hundreds of songs and recorded thousands. His Sun is at 0° Gemini, the sign of the songsmith. “I can write on any subject. Just give me the first line, which is the most important.” Aznavour will turn 92 [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Elizabeth Maconchy
Dame Elizabeth Machonchy was hailed as a girl-wonder at the age of 23 and then told she had only a few years to live. However, she beat TB and went on to live a long and full life. I don’t have the time of birth, but I note the conjunction of Chiron and Venus. Her […]
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In the Key of Pisces: Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole… perfect phrasing, casual grace, immortal. Cole was an outstanding jazz pianist who just happened to be able to sing — to start with. Of course, it’s his gorgeous voice for which he’ll be remembered — and indeed he has a packed second house, which we might associate with voice, [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Astor Piazzolla
Thanks to Rachel for suggesting Astor Piazzolla, the late great Argentinian maestro of tango. Loss, plangent longing, melancholy love — so romantic — that’s one side of Piazolla’s work. Uncompromisingly avant-garde, experimental and cutting edge — there’s an utterly different side too. [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: James Taylor
James Taylor’s soft, reedy baritone is so sweet and his melody-weaving so certain, his lyrics so perfectly distilled and his phrasing so effortless — he truly was blessed by the gods of music and song. Indeed, his first album, which included classics like Carolina in My Mind and Rainy Day [...]
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Kesha’s Saturn Return
Los Angeles will eat you. The LA music biz specialises in packaging young girls into pop stars — Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Nicky Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears. The singer-songwriter Kesha is one of those. Spotted by producer Dr Luke at the age of 17,  she was [...]
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In The Key Of Pisces: Answers To Pavane
Sviatoslav Richter is the Pisces at the slowest tempo. Richter has Mercury, Mars and Jupiter in a tight stellium in Pisces. Taurus Moon. Samson Francois has a Taurus Sun with Venus-Pluto conjunction in Cancer training his Scorpio Moon which opposes the Sun — emotionally intense and rather [...]
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In The Key Of Pisces: Maurice Ravel & An Astro-Musical Quiz
The composer, Maurice Ravel, was born on March 7, 1875 into a musical family in the town of Ciboure, where the River Nivelle meets the Atlantic Ocean in the Basque country. (We are catching up with some missed dates for In The Key Of Pisces…) He was an innovator and a rebel. Rejected by the [...]
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Eclipse Surge
I woke up this morning feeling violently happy, which made me think of Icelandic songstress and musical genius, Björk. I wondered if she was born on an eclipse.  So I checked: she was born the day before one in November 1965. If you want to know about the surge of emotions of an eclipse, I [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Villa-Lobos, Segovia Plays & A Bonus
I think we’re beginning to get a feeling for the weaving, watery, complex Piscean sound. The work of Heitor Villa-Lobos (March 5), probably Latin America’s most famous 20th century composer, exemplifies this in many works. Many of his compositions are so woven into the soundtracks of our lives [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Tre Italiani
Thanks to my friend and reader, Sabrina, for pointing out that the late-lamented Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla was born on March 4, 1943. He has a solo Sun in Pisces with other planets extraordinarily evenly spread through his chart. Sun does make a lovely trine to Jupiter in [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Miriam Makeba
Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba. Born on March 4, 1932. Makeba, along with her husband Hugh Masakela, was one of the most prominent artistic exiles from South Africa during the apartheid era. Although South Africa revoked her passport, 10 other countries stepped in to offer her citizenship. So she [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Chris Martin
“I definitely believe in God. How can you look at anything and not be overwhelmed by the miraculousness of it?” said Pisces singer-songwriter and Coldplay frontman, Chris Martin. There you have it. The sound of Coldplay has woven its way into the fabric of the past decade and a half — [...]
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In the Key of Pisces: Bedrich Smetana
This first fortnight of March is composers’ week. Yesterday was Chopin’s birthday; today the “father of Czech music”, Bedrich Smetana, was born in 1824. Smetana was a Czech patriot and one of the generation that rose up against the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Revolutions of 1848. The [...]
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In The Key Of Pisces: Chopin
Beauty, mystery, melancholy, passion, melody: let Chopin’s music take you into a wordless place. There is some dispute about his birthday, but I am sure it is today, March 1. Of course, his work endures for all time and all cultures — Neptune conjunct Saturn. His music makes private emotion [...]
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In The Key Of Pisces: Johnny Cash and Erykah Badu
Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash. Pisces Rising, Pisces Sun-Mercury-Mars opposite Neptune in Virgo. It was all about the music. The drink nearly killed him. Love saved him. He hurt. Oh and that black shirt? Moon in Scorpio — so deep and yet so simple. Born February 26, [...]
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