A spa treatment room. Photo: Merlin resort, Thailand/Flickr
Tracey Thorn: I know just how uptight I am when I find myself at a spa and unable to chill
By Tracey Thorn - 19 February 17:05

I envy calm people for their apparent immunity to overexcitement or overreaction.

James MacMillan in action.
Conjuring sound: James MacMillan conducts a retrospective of his own works
By Caroline Crampton - 19 February 16:27

Appearing at the Barbican with the BBC Singers and London Sinfonietta, the composer's hands seem to shape music out of thin air.

Dawkins with the band in the studio.
Richard Dawkins to feature on Finnish metal band Nightwish's new album
By Stephanie Boland - 13 February 9:43

The biologist-turned-atheist campaigner is sampled on the band's forthcoming Endless Forms Most Beautiful.

Mark E Smith, lead singer of The Fall.
Totally mired: The Big Midweek reveals the dark side of The Fall
By Austin Collings - 12 February 10:21

Steve Hanley and Olivia Piekarski's new book lifts the lid on one of the most turbulent bands in pop.

Seduced by the devil. Image: Manuel Harlan.
Europe and its demons: How To Hold Your Breath at the Royal Court Theatre
By Barbara Speed - 11 February 12:19

Beyond the intellectual weight of the play's message the production falls a little flat.

ENO's The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Photo: Catherine Ashmore
Topped in translation: two new London operas make a case for English-language productions
By Alexandra Coghlan - 10 February 15:26

The English National Opera’s  The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and the Royal Opera’s L’Ormindo show that translated music-theatre can be exceptional.

Prodigy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a child. Picture: Rex features
Extended play: the world's longest Mozart festival debuts at Wigmore Hall
By Caroline Crampton - 05 February 15:15

On Mozart 250 and Sarah Connolly in America.

Mind over matter: Olivia Vinall as Hilary in The Hard Problem
A night at the brain gym: Tom Stoppard’s new play The Hard Problem is his most diverse yet
By Mark Lawson - 05 February 15:06

It may be the shortest Stoppard full-length play, but The Hard Problem still offers 100 minutes of touching humour from a varied cast.

Jeremy Clarkson at the Top Gear Festival in Sydney. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: The more attention we pay to childish behaviour, the more we get
By Tracey Thorn - 05 February 14:47

Indulging childishness is why we’re stuck with Boris Johnson, Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson.

Tom Stoppard on art, Charlie Hebdo - and why it's a bad time to be a voter
By Erica Wagner - 05 February 10:51

"Time is short, life is short. There's a lot to know."

Jarvis Cocker. Photo: Steve Double
Stuart Maconie: The privileged are taking over the arts – without the grit, pop culture is doomed
By Stuart Maconie - 04 February 10:08

With school music spending down and the benefits system crippled, the voices of pop have lost their bite.

Three's a crowd: My Night With Reg
How Kevin Elyot's Aids farce My Night With Reg became a play for today
By Mark Lawson - 29 January 10:25

Now showing at London's Apollo Theatre, the 1994 play shines even brighter in an age when its characters could marry.

Tamsin Greig in Women on the Verge. Photo: Alastair Muir
Nervous breakdown coming on? Time to burst into song
By Mark Lawson - 22 January 11:09

Tamsin Greig stars in the innovative Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, while the Tate Modern wallet incident presses us to ask: what is art?

P J Harvey. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Tracey Thorn: Do we really want to watch P J Harvey drinking tea and plugging in studio leads?
By Tracey Thorn - 16 January 13:22

From bonus tracks to signed T-shirts to private concerts, do we end up here, selling not just the finished record, but every moment of the process? 

Beethoven. Image: Getty
Meet the maestro: Beethoven’s fraught personal life
By Nicholas Lezard - 15 January 10:28

Two very different biographical works give surprising insight into the great composer's character.

Meryl Streep, looking less glamorous than usual for Into the Woods.
Stephen Sondheim: A life’s work in progress
By Leo Robson - 08 January 16:06

On Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday, he will be revered as the genius of musical theatre. But his failures are just as fascinating as his successes.

The Sex Pistols in 1977, with Johnny Rotten third from left. Photo: Getty
Johnny Rotten: “You find the truth by ridiculing yourself”
By Kate Mossman - 22 December 16:35

NS pop critic Kate Mossman talks to the former Sex Pistol about Ed Miliband, Ukip and “men’s dangly bits”.

John Cleese by Ralph Steadman
Finding the laugh the hard way: John Cleese meets Jemima Khan
By Jemima Khan - 22 December 16:28

At 75, after many years of personal struggle, John Cleese says he is the happiest he has ever been. But what on earth will that mean for his comedy?

The Phil Spector Christmas album is the aural equivalent of being inside a snowglobe. Photo: Getty
Tracey Thorn: Not for me the party songs. Come, listen to the clanging chimes of doom!
By Tracey Thorn - 19 December 16:48

Is there a darker Christmas lyric than Band Aid’s “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”?

Time’s arrow: an image by Chloe Dewe Mathews
Turning budget cuts into drama, and photography after the blast
By Mark Lawson - 12 December 12:54

Mark Lawson weighs up the hard choices facing the arts.

The Beatles arrive home from Stockholm in 1964, where they shared a bill with Swedish group the Mascots. Photo: Larry Ellis/Express/Getty Images
The Mascots, the Shanes, and the undiscovered gems of Swedish Sixties pop
By Bob Stanley - 09 December 15:17

Even for the most dedicated listeners, there is still fresh material out there to encounter.

Other Mary: a statue of Mary Magdelene in San Salvador. Photo: Getty
Magdalene sisters: John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary
By Caroline Crampton - 05 December 16:18

The piece is an attempt to see the Passion through the eyes of the women who surrounded Jesus, with particular emphasis on Mary Magdalene.

Stewart Lee likes to play with the character of “Stewart Lee”, who says things he wouldn’t personally. Photo: MJ Kim/Getty
Stewart Lee: “I don’t mind causing offence when I intend to, but I don’t like causing it accidentally”
By Rob Pollard - 28 November 17:05

He doesn’t do panel shows or tour massive venues, but Stewart Lee has still become one of the UK’s most popular comedians in the last five years. Rob Pollard talks to him about work, politics and “the Ukips”.

Soul survivor: Robert Wyatt in 2009
Rock bottom and back: the rough-edged career of Robert Wyatt
By Ian Thomson - 28 November 16:57

Over the half-century of his career as a musician, Wyatt has belonged to no musical coterie; at his home in the market town of Louth in Lincolnshire, he has simply ploughed his own furrow.

Bob Dylan in London in 1966. Photo: Express Newspapers/Getty
The quest for completion: on Bob Dylan and the Basement Tapes
By Bob Stanley - 26 November 17:57

Bob Stanley explores two six-disc sets: Bob Dyland’s the Basement Tapes, released at long last, and a super-deluxe issue of The Velvet Underground’s eponymous third album.

Ready Freddie? Mercury wows Madison Square Gardens in a blaze of light, 1977
Who wants to live forever? The new frontiers of posthumous rock
By Kate Mossman - 14 November 10:23

In the next two decades there’ll be a mass departure of the people who brought us the best of rock’n’roll, but some bands are finding new ways to give their tunes eternal life.

Inspiring: Malala Yousafzai speaks at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia on 21 October. Photo: Getty
Hear their voices: a choral celebration of Malala Yousafzai
By Caroline Crampton - 13 November 10:00

Young British composer James McCarthy and Pakistani writer Bina Shah have collaborated to produce Malala, a dramatic work for choir and orchestra that attempts to capture the spirit of her story.

West-side story: Fleetwood Mac
Excess all areas: the pageantry and farce of the Fleetwood Mac story
By Mark Ellen - 13 November 10:00

If you ever thought the laid-back vocals of “Dreams” sounded as if they had been recorded by a naked woman lying between satin sheets, then it’s entirely possible you were right.

Jazz hand: the historian Eric Hobsbawm in 1976. Photo: Getty
Music of time: A night with Eric Hobsbawm’s record collection
By Philip Maughan - 13 November 10:00

I had heard that a new pop-up space, Spiritland in Shoreditch, would be playing records from Hobsbawm’s personal collection, so I went along to listen.

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