It seems to be a time of finding things to look back on, as the September edition of the BBC Music Magazine is now out (it’s even reached New Zealand). Since my first puzzle there was in September 1997, this is an anniversary puzzle, and there are five Op. 20s mentioned in the puzzle. I had at least five more reasonably familiar named pieces I could have chosen (by ‘named’ I mean something other than ‘Piano Concerto No. 2’ or similar) – by Op. 20 composers are hitting their stride, obviously. There seems not to have been space for the preamble I added to the puzzle, so anyone who’s perplexed now has an explanation. To mark the occasion, here’s a link to the first puzzle I set for them, and you can check out a few others here.
A twentieth anniversary is always going to give pause for thought, if only the thought: “Twenty years? Really?”. The regular deadlines have the effect of making it harder to recollect specific highlights – if a puzzle does feel good, the fact that its successor is already demanding attention leaves you little time to rest on whatever laurels you may wish to award yourself. Not a bad regimen, at that. I do recall the annual struggle to find something new for Christmas (not least because it’s already almost upon me again…), and there is the permanent problem of working out how to start a blank grid. I’m currently using anniversaries as seed-corn for this, though as I’m happy to wander off into sesquicentenaries and the like, they may not always be obvious. It does give me the chance to indulge some favourites, and to feel guilty about overlooking areas of music in which I feel less well-versed.
There is a new setter’s blog going up immediately after I’ve published this (uploading photographs permitting) – it’s for Squares in The Listener at the start of the month. (Blog currently retracted until solution appears next week.). There’s also a Phi puzzle in The Inquisitor series in The i today (with its own setter’s blog to follow in due course), but there’s nothing else to draw your attention to before the next update. (The latest Toughie caught me unawares and slipped into The Telegraph last Thursday.)
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