TLS Crossword 1173 by Praxiteles – April 28, 2017. Who Was That Masked Man?

An enjoyable musical puzzle which I found difficult.  I had all but 2 clues just about accounted for under the hour over a couple of sessions, mostly sans Google.  There’s still two I’m scratching my head over – I had no trouble with the answers, but the parsing was another matter.  No one else seems to have had those particular struggles so the references must be blindingly obvious to all but me.  I was glad of the quotations, even though they were unfamiliar, or I’d have taken much longer.  The pop culture references were entertaining, although of a certain vintage which seems to have bemused some of the faster (and younger?) solvers.  I have one unimportant quibble.  And there was one big spelling pitfall that seems to have caught out some of the regulars.  Definitions in italics underlined.  Answers in bold caps.

1.  Liszt, for instance, putting notes together (4)
ABBE.  The prolific19th Century Hungarian-French composer Franz was an abbe – a junior French clergyman who wasn’t necessarily ordained.  We have some of the notes of the scale here and he put them together.  Easy but nice clue.
3.  Credited to Alexander Scriabin initially then heartlessly copied (8)
ASCRIBED.  First letters (initially) in A[lexander] S[criabin] with CRIB[b]ED=copied, omitting one B (heartlessly).
10.  Waltzing Matilda composer’s instrument (5)
BANJO.  For some reason I knew there was a banjo in it somewhere, but here comes the quibble.  When I looked this up for the blog it appeared that Banjo Paterson was the lyricist and Christina Macpherson the composer.
11. Intervals, e.g. B to C, arranged in the sol-fa, I omitted (9)
HALFTONES.  When I learned music they were semitones.  In music, the smallest space between notes as in between B and C.  Anagram (arranged) of [i]NTHESOLFA, omitting the I.  Neat one.
12.  One born near Rome – an Italian composer – not Monaco, not I, that’s all wrong (10)
PALESTRINA.  Important 16th Century composer of sacred music, Giovanni Pierluigi of that city near Rome.  And here’s where I turned over 2 pages of the sheet music at once and started playing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.  There is a 20th Century Italian-American composer called James Monaco (You Made Me Love You) but somehow I don’t thnk that’s what the setter had in mind.  With the checking letters the answer was clear but, like Schubert’s 8th, this explanation is unfinished.  Anyone?  See Mohn infra.
14.  Help! is rendered without Beatles’ finale (3)
AID.  Rendered=[s]AID omitting the S at the end of the Beatles.
16.  Musical regarded as elegant at one time (7)
CHICAGO.  CHIC=elegant.  AGO=at one time. 1970s musical by Kander & Ebb with choreography by Fosse.
17.  Tone row about start of toccata featuring more staccato notes … (7)
DOTTIER.  DO=tone.  TIER=row about (containiing T[occata].  In sheet music notation staccato notes are represented with dots under them.
18.  … not like Schubert’s 8th (7)
UNBEGUN.  Franz Schubert’s symphony in B Minor only had two movements because he never completed it.
19.  One often changing position, thanks to Ahab finally with killer whale returning (7)
ACROBAT.  TA, with [Aha]B (finally) and ORCA=whale, all reversed (returning).
20.  Maupassant’s friend, given a ring, we hear (3)
AMI.  En Francais, a friend of French writer Guy de Maupassant.  When I came to look at it I didn’t get this one either!  And again see Mohn.
21. Composer of tune in B, sir (10)
RUBINSTEIN.  Anagram of TUNE IN B SIR.  Close attention to the components needed here because the more usual spelling is with two Es rather than two Is.  Anton RubInstein was a 19th Century Russian pianist, composer and conductor.  Arthur RubEnstein was a 20th Century Polish-American pianist.  Then there was Helena, a composer of maquillage and rival of Elizabeth Arden.
24.  Laying to rest Wagner’s magnum opus after a leaderless season (9)
INTERRING.  The RING follows [w]INTER.
26.  Perform in church antiphon (5)
CHANT.  Hidden in [chur]CH ANT[iphon].  Also works &lit.
27.  Musical compositions to set sonnet to (8)
NONETTOS.  Anagram of SONNET TO, though I imagine many did not stop to unravel this.
28.  Paul sounds like the mainstay of American pop (4)
ANKA.  Homophone (sounds like) “anchor”=mainstay.  In addition to Diana and Puppy Love etc. which he performed himself, he also wrote the Sinatra standard, My Way.


1. Group of rhymes in Petrarchan sonnet (4)
ABBA.  This made me laugh.  Double definition.  The rhyme scheme of the sonnet (it really is so – as Zabadak says, we check so you don’t have to), and the 1970s Swedish pop group whose anodyne songs were revived in the late 90s musical Mamma Mia.  I can think of several other exclamations.
2.  Composer sounding like 6 (8,7)
BENJAMIN BRITTEN. Homophone.  Knew this one (I should hope so) but not 6D.
4.  Look, it’s about rising maestro (5)
SOLTI.  Anagram (about) of LO=look and IT’S.  Virtuoso conductor Sir Georg.
5. Briefly slowing down from current tempo at end of Bruckner (3)
RIT.  Short for ritardando in musical notation.  [Bruckne]R with I=current and T=tempo.
6.  Dickensian sounding like 2 (8,7)
BENJAMIN BRITAIN.  This was almost as far-fetched as Broteas’s Peltirogus but so much easier to guess.  I’d read Nicholas Nickleby several times without ever remembering Mr. P., but I’ve never even read the relevant story here.  He is a servant in one of Dickens’s Christmas Books – The Battle Of Life:  A Love story.  His fellow servant (they later marry) is called Clemency.  You never know when you’ll happen across something of personal interest.  I had an aunt called Clemency and I’d never heard of anyone else with the name.
7.  Trade ideas about “What Every Woman wants” (10)
DESIDERATA.  Anagram (about) of TRADE IDEAS.  Not just women.  I’m not sure if there’s more to it than this although there was a 50s movie by that name with a pretty good cast.
8.  John Reid, some say, permanently associated with Rossini’s music (4,6)
LONE RANGER.  Rossini’s William Tell overture became inextrably linked with both the radio and tv shows.  My husband used to listen to it on the radio growing up in Philadelphia. We had no tv but I used to sneak up our London street (until Nanny put a stop to it) to my friend Mindy’s house to watch the series with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.  I never knew any of this but John Reid – who became the Lone Ranger –  was the younger brother of Dan Reid, one of a posse of Texas Rangers who was killed in a shootout.  Or something – it’s all fictional.  The Reid reference had me addled ( I started thinking about the journalist John Reed who wrote about the Russian revolution) and I needed all the checking letters before the Rossini connection registered.  In the 70s there was a joke along the lines of  – Lone Ranger to Tonto:  How do we get out of this fix?  Tonto to Lone Ranger:  What do you mean “we”, white man?  Speaking of catchy theme tunes from tv Westerns, how about Davee, Davee Crockett, King of the wild frontier.  Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, Keep them dogies rollin’, Rawhide.  Champion, the wonder horse.  Now look what you’ve done.
9.  “We got to  … Heidelberg before the night  –” (Mark Twain) (4,4)
SHUT DOWN.  From A Tramp Abroad – The Deadly Jest.  Semi-fictional account of a walking tour through Germany.
13.  Sinfonia by VW includes start of coda in large-scale mass (10)
ANTARCTICA.  By Ralph Vaughan Williams.  In Italian the first C is omitted (Sinfonia Antartica) but here the C in C[oda] is included to give us the continent in English.  A bit convoluted as a clue but straightforward enough to solve.  We also had the Italianised “nonettos”.  When I first looked at this it was before I twigged the music theme and I was thinking Virginia Woolf…
15.  Work that comes after The Siege and Fall of Troy? (10)
OCCUPATION.  Double definition.  Rather a long story.
17.  “The damp, — -soaked soil is sick with the teeming life of a hundred years” (Kipling) (8)
DRAINAGE.  From Wee Willie Winkie Under The Doedars – City Of The Dreadful Night.  Calcutta (Kolkatta) is the city.  No, I didn’t know this either but you could get it from the checking letters.
22. Librettist without appeal to show disapproval (5)
BOITO.  Arrigo, Verdi’s librettist.  BOO=show disapproval containing (without) IT=appeal.
23. A feature associated with Greek thinkers from Socrates to Aristotle (4)
STOA.  Where they hung out.  S[ocrates] TO A[ristotle].
25.  Popular composer’s first section won’t progress if stuck in this (3)
RUT.  Giovanni Rutini was an 18th Century Italian composer.  Not too hard to guess if you take his first section, but I didn’t know him.  A further Google search reveals John Rutter, English composer of choral music, so perhaps it’s more likely the setter meant him

12 comments on “TLS Crossword 1173 by Praxiteles – April 28, 2017. Who Was That Masked Man?”

  1. Found this one quite tough and was marooned for ages at the end on 8D, where neither reference was familiar. 12A is a composite/compound anagram, where AN ITALIAN COMPOSER – MONACO – I gives you the fodder from which to produce PALESTRINA. Re 20A, Maupassant wrote Bel Ami, where the Bel sounds like a ring. Mamma Mia! was a grim representation of ABBA’s brilliance but at least the cast looked as though they were having a ball.
  2. Didn’t find this one too hard, getting the two long Britten/Britain clues helped.
    Re 15 dn, I note that both “Occupation: Writer” and “The Siege & Fall of Troy” are works by Robert Graves and assumed the clue was referring to them.
    Re 10ac, I suppose you could say Banjo composed the lyrics?
    A little harsh to call Abba anodyne, unless you consider all popular music to be so. I am rather an unlikely defender of pop music but have tended to think of theirs as being about as good as pop music gets. Listen carefully to this and tell me it’s anodyne 🙂

    Edited at 2017-05-19 09:51 pm (UTC)

  3. Had to look up a couple here (couldn’t choose between Banjo and Bongo for the instrument at 10ac and neither seemed more likely than the other for the composer; and dnk the VW symphony at 13dn). John Reid was unknown but I knew what to associate the William Tell Overture with. Palestrina went in on the basis of Italian composer and checkers but I think it’s clever now I see how it parses. DNK 6dn but easy to get once 2dn went in. Bunged in 25dn without knowing the popular composer. ABBA well liked in these parts. If the blogger had sat through this year’s Eurovision song contest she might well have found herself crying out for a bit of Waterloo, the only real highlight from this year was a Romanian rap-yodel pop duo (who doesn’t have space in their record collection for a bit of that?) the rest of the acts weren’t nearly as good.
  4. Beaten by this. I like my music but my knowledge of the serious stuff is shallow. I had forgotten Verdi’s librettist, but never got close to figuring it out after chucking in ‘nonettes’, being pretty sure a nonette was a thing (it is, just the wrong thing here).

    Thanks for sorting all this out, Olivia, and for giving me a Champion the Wonder Horse ear worm.

  5. Couple of responses:

    10A In Chambers at least, “compose(r)” can apply to the words as well as the music.

    28A “wrote” is a bit of an overstatement – Anka adapted a French song called “Comme d’Habitude”.

    25D deffo Rutter – king of “modern” Christmas carols. Some, I would dare to say, seem a bit formulaic. Here’s one from 1988 which I prefer to most if not all the others:

  6. If I remember aright (it was a long time ago) Rubinstein’s ‘Melody in F’ was a simple little thing that aspiring musicians played in their early stages (piano, violin…). If you heard it, you’d know it, though it’s probably died the death now. So the clue ‘tune in B’ is a joky reference.
    1. Yes! Thank you for this Gypaetus. I knew the tune(just played it on youtube) but somehow none of my piano teachers ever put it in front of me to attempt at the time.
  7. Thanks to all for the comments and links. This puzzle had more nuances than I realized even at the time of blogging – chapeau to Praxiteles. For reasons that can’t be fathomed ABBA never touched a nerve with me so you’ll have to forgive my tone-deafness there. But I was glad to learn about Rutter – that carol was lovely.
  8. I was one of the select drew who can’t count Is and Es. I blame those chosen people who couldn’t be bothered to use vowels in their alphabet and picked any old collection when transliterating.
    I’ve lost count of the number of Rutter carols I’ve sung. Listen for the telltale kaplink at the end.
    He also wrote some “proper” music much more challenging for amateur choirs in the Shires. This is the Requiem which benefits from some absolutely ravishing tunes framed by challenging chords. I once had the pleasure of attending a workshop where Rutter himself took us through his Gloria.
  9. ABBA’s music could be anodyne as Olivia says re 1d, in its original sense of relieving pain – hard not to feel cheerful when listening to their songs. And re 28a, I got confused as Paul Anka was Canadian and his first big hit Diana was sung by every Canadian teenager – he even appeared in person and sang it at our local sock hop, as part of a promotional tour. Nostalgia…

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