Corin Redgrave 1939-2010

Scion of the theatrical dynasty dies at 70.

The actor Corin Redgrave, scion of the Redgrave theatrical dynasty, has died, his family announced today. Redgrave suffered a heart attack in 2005 and only returned to the stage last year, playing the Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Redgrave was an occasional contributor to the New Statesman. And last year, he gave a short interview to the magazine, reproduced below.


Does art make a difference?

Yes. To me, most of the time. In fact, all of the time. It allows me to say what I feel, what I think. Everything that needs to be said. For some in oppressed or deprived countries, it is the only way they can express themselves.

Should politics and art mix?

Yes, they should. In fact, for me they always do. Of course, not all my work as an artist is political, but I think I am a political artist.

Is good art a product of inspiration or perspiration?

This is a good question. Not that I always feel inspired -- although I hope to be -- but when I work hard I do perspire!

Does money corrupt an artist?

In my career, unfortunately, I have never been paid sufficiently to imagine that I have been corrupted. I wish I had been. I should like to be, always.

Is your work for the many or for the few?

Both. I have done films and television which undoubtedly were seen by larger audiences. I have done plays which have been seen in tiny theatres by very small audiences or, for that matter, sometimes even in larger theatres.

Which artist do you most admire?

My sister, Vanessa. Because she always loves her work and puts herself completely into it.

Which artist do you least admire?

Myself. I don't think there is anything particularly admirable about my work.

What inspires you?

An artist whose work has changed the world and allowed us to understand it better.

Where do you work best?

In theatres such as the National Theatre.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

I would be a teacher, I think.

If you were world leader, what would be your first law?

Abolish all destructive weapons.

Who would be your top advisers?

My family, or just people I meet in the street every day, in pubs or restaurants.

What would you censor?

Nothing at all.

What would you legalise?

Anything that needed the help of the law to make it really disreputable.

Who would you banish?

Our present Prime Minister.

What are the rules that you live by?

I don't live by any rules but if there were one, it would be to enjoy myself. I should live by that.

What couldn't you live without?


What would you like your legacy to be?

I would give a lot of money to help people enjoy themselves.

Do you love your country?

Yes, I do. But not, of course, more than any other country.

Are we all doomed?

No, not all of us. Not even myself.

Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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On the trail of Keith Jarrett's melodies

Lose focus for a second and you can quickly drop the thread of Jarrett's complex improvisational techniques.

“So, this is a piano,” said Keith Jarrett, sitting down at the one that had been placed centre stage for him in the Royal Festival Hall on 20 November. Blowing on his hands to warm them, he acted as if he had never encountered such an instrument before, raising a chuckle from the hundreds of fans who had turned out to see the man in the flesh. For 40 years, Jarrett has been giving concerts like this – alone with the piano, playing his improvised music to a room full of rapt devotees. Notoriously grumpy – and now as well known for his tirades against cameras and coughing audience members as for his early days playing with Miles Davis – he has an almost eerie focus onstage, relieving the tension only very occasionally with his barbed observations about the excellence of the instrument, or the shuffling in the auditorium.

Jarrett gave us a series of short pieces, each rendering separate and distinctive musical ideas. He began with an intricately woven flash of notes in both hands, criss-crossing the melodies that were by turns dark and haunting, or light and dancing. At particularly complex moments, when his arms were crossed over and the notes were flowing from his fingers faster than anyone could imagine them into existence, he leaned his ear down towards the keys, as if physical closeness could help his ideas more swiftly become sound.

A couple of folk-inflected ballads followed; heart-achingly sweet melodies picked out above rumbling, sour arpeggios. Like Glenn Gould, the Canadian pianist best known for his recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Jarrett can’t help adding vocalisations as he plays, which are all the more evident in his quieter compositions. He rose and fell from his stool; we heard his guiding hum along with the melody, as well as the odd strangled shout, yelp and grunt. He might insist on absolute silence from the audience but his own noises seem completely uninhibited as the music spins around him.

Although notorious for his curmudgeonly attitude to his fans, Jarrett was mostly restrained in this outing, allowing himself just one short, sweary outburst about killing a “f***ing camera”. At the age of 70 and with the power to sell out his concerts in just a few hours, you do wonder how much of the persona is genuine and how much of it is just giving the audience what it expects. A case in point came near the end, when he yielded to clamouring and gave a surprisingly simple and straightforward rendition of “Danny Boy”, an encore that long-time fans know well.

Given that this recital was under the auspices of the London Jazz Festival, there was surprisingly little in Jarrett’s programme that could easily be identified as jazz. One piece, full of brisk rhythms and chunky chords, gradually revealed itself to be based on a modified 12-bar blues structure and another had haunting overtones surely pulled from the classic American songs of the first half of the 20th century. Indeed, this musical ghosting becomes a major preoccupation when you see Jarrett live. It is too easy to distract yourself in trying to follow the auditory trail he has laid for you – was that a bit of Debussy, or Bach, or Glass just then? – and lose the thread of what he plays next. The improvisational technique might have more in common with jazz but now, 40 years on from his bestselling live recording The Köln Concert, it’s difficult to characterise Jarrett’s output as anything other than contemporary classical music.

If it needs a classification, that is. At one point, I became convinced that a particular piece was a Jarrett riff on Beethoven’s Bagatelle No 25 in A Minor – or Für Elise, as it is more commonly known. I was sure it was all there: the extended opening trill, the rising arpeggios in the left hand, the melody cascading from treble to bass and back again. Except, by the time I surfaced from my musing, there was no trace of Beethoven to be heard. A clashing, almost violent melody was dangling over a long drone in the bass. If you try too hard to pin down Jarrett’s music, it moves on without you.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 26 November 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Terror vs the State