tue 24/11/2020

obituary

'I loved being a dresser': Sir Ronald Harwood, Oscar-winning writer, dies at 85

Ronald Harwood, who has died at the age of 85, was best known for his play about tending to the needs of the larger-than-life actor-manager Donald Wolfit. The Dresser, adapted by Harwood, went on to become a great film success starring Tom Courtenay...

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'She was Paris': RIP Zizi Jeanmaire (1924-2020)

"You talk like Marlene Dietrich, you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire, your clothes are all made by Balmain, and there’s diamonds and pearls in your hair…" . Peter Sarstedt may have been a one-hit wonder, but his 1969 pop song, "Where do you go to (my...

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Ennio Morricone 1928-2020: A lost afternoon in his apartment in Rome

Ennio Morricone was a genius, or as close to that description as makes no odds. If we mean someone who created a unique body of work, one that changed culture, had a distincive style and was massively influential, then Morricone fitted the bill....

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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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