Newly into its third century, the role of London’s Royal Academy of Music in Britain’s cultural life has been central and crucial. Similarly its contribution to wider, international affairs with its generations of alumni shaping much of the ever-changing music landscape since its founding in 1822.

The cover of Speaking Musically by Raymond Holden

In recent years, under Principal Jonathan Freeman-Attwood’s outward-looking stewardship, the Academy has sought to share its learning with a wider public. Speaking Musically: Great Artists in Conversation at the Royal Academy of Music, edited by Emeritus Professor, Raymond Holden, provides welcome evidence of that ambition.

At Holden’s suggestion – “I realised that we, as an institution, were missing a trick by not documenting the thoughts of leading artists when they came to work with our students” – between 2009 and 2018 Freeman-Attwood conducted 16 public interviews with the great and the good of contemporary musical life. Transcripts of those events, along with two dozen others with Holden as inquisitor, have now been collated into this substantial compendium.

The roll call...