Become Ocean, John Luther Adams's latest act of sonic sorcery, had its premiere at the Seattle Symphony on Thursday night. Sadly, the composer was unable to attend, for medical reasons. Gavin Borchert had an advance notice in the Seattle Weekly; there are reviews from Melinda Bargreen and also from The Lutosławskian, a precocious teen-aged Seattle commentator. I'll have a review in The New Yorker a week from Monday, alongside a notice of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, at the San Francisco Opera.
June 21, 2013 | Permalink
A voyage westward will prevent me from seeing the 2013 edition of Make Music NY. After last year's epic broiler, the weather gods seem inclined to smile on tomorrow's affair: the forecast calls for bright sun but a high of merely eighty-six degrees. Steve Smith has a handy preview of several of the potential highlights: three R. Murray Schafer events on Central Park Lake, including a performance of his Credo, with 144 singers; a 175-keyboard rendition of Jed Distler's Broken Record on Cornelia Street (Steve promises, or threatens, that Mayor Bloomberg will be involved); So Percussion and Eli Keszler's Archway, with piano wires suspended from the Manhattan Bridge; and an ambitious mounting of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning, unfolding over ten hours. Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim looks ahead to the Cardew in a New York Times piece, while Lev Bratishenko has a preview of the Schafer. The Canadian master, codifier of the concept of "soundscape," has long been a pioneer in site-specific composition, notably in his Patria series. Patria 7: Asteríon will have a performance in August, as part of Schafer's eightieth-birthday celebrations.
June 20, 2013 | Permalink
June 18, 2013 | Permalink
June 18, 2013 | Permalink
"This eternal piano-playing is too much to bear! ... This shrill tinkling with no natural resonance, this heartless whirring, this ultra-prosaic banging and pecking — the fortepiano is killing all our thoughts and feelings, and we are becoming stupid, dull, imbecilic. This prevalence of piano playing, not to speak of the triumphal march of the piano virtuosos, is characteristic of our time and bears witness to the victory of machine over spirit. Technical proficiency, the precision of an automaton, the identification with strung wood, the sonic instrumentalization of human beings, is now hailed and praised as the highest good.”
— Heinrich Heine, Paris, 1843
Heine being a master ironist, this jeremiad should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, the resemblance to modern-day denunciations of encroaching technology is amusing.
June 16, 2013 | Permalink
Annals of American Wagneriana: Richard Lehnert sent me the program for Peter Sellars's legendary, unrecorded one-evening version of the Ring. Lisa Hirsch was there: "The giants were macramé, and you could see them only from the hips down, hung from the flies on the proscenium stage. The galloping Valkyries were children's hobby-horses, the magic provided by the best use of a disco ball I've ever seen in my life." More memories of early Sellars are here.
June 16, 2013 | Permalink
"I have often heard it said that music cannot boast of translating anything with certainty, as can writing and painting. This is true in a certain sense, but it is not entirely true. Music translates in its own way, through means which are its own. In music, as in painting and even the written word, which is still the most positive of the arts, there is always a lacuna to be filled in by the imagination of the listener."
— "Richard Wagner and Tannhäuser in Paris."
June 15, 2013 | Permalink
For the past couple of years, most of what I've read has been Wagnerism-related — about which I have no complaints, since my book will encompass much of the greatest literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as some of the weirdest. But I did drop everything to read Chimamanda Adichie's merciless, compassionate new novel Americanah. It tells of a young Nigerian woman who comes to America and, after a long struggle to find her footing, begins writing a blog on American racial neuroses. The perceptions on race are breathtaking, as various reviewers have noted; Ruth Franklin, in BookForum, delivers a particularly acute commentary. But I'd also like to put in a word for Adichie's style. I have a hard time with a lot of contemporary fiction; I've begun any number of acclaimed new novels, often by men self-consciously vying for the Great American Novel title, and stopped after thirty pages in a state of bored frustration. In an age of chronic overwriting, Adichie has found a voice that is noble, spare, shorn of show, at once uncommonly elegant and uncomfortably direct.
I'm also planning to read George Packer's The Unwinding, Edna O'Brien's Country Girl, Choire Sicha's Very Recent History, and David Margolick's Dreadful, about the dark, short life of John Horne Burns.
June 12, 2013 | Permalink
Mark Morris is set to unleash a winsome welter of events at this year's Ojai Festival, including the Bad Plus Rite (Ethan Iverson writes in advance here), a Lou Harrison gamelan program, the staggering new Morris dance Jenn and Spencer (to Henry Cowell), various works of John Luther Adams (Strange and Sacred Noise, songbirdsongs, For Lou Harrison), and a cache of Cage.... Adams will then proceed north for the world première of his big new orchestral piece Become Ocean, at the Seattle Symphony, June 20-23. This work is an outgrowth of Dark Waves.... The splashiest undertaking at this year's Make Music NY is a performance of R. Murray Schafer's Credo on Central Park Lake, with 144 singers under the direction of George Steele. Note also Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning, Melissa Elledge's all-accordion In C, and a five-borough rendition of Cage's 49 Waltzes. The full schedule is here.... The eighteen-year-old Conrad Tao is a talent to watch, both as pianist and composer, as Voyages, his spiky debut EMI album, attests. Next week he is curating a three-day festival called Unplay, with his own works programmed alongside those of Tristan Perich, Phil Kline, Kate Davis, Julia Wolfe, and the like.... The Chelsea Music Festival also gets under way next week, with a focus on Britten; I'm especially intrigued by an Ensemble Amarcord program called The Ghost of Gesualdo.... Big early-music doings in June: the Boston Early Music Festival (June 9-16) will have a full staging of Handel's Almira; and the Festival Montréal Baroque (June 21-24) will feature the Ensemble Caprice in what may prove to be a controversial reconstruction of Vivaldi's Motezuma.... The full schedule for this year's Bang on a Can Marathon, on June 16, has been announced. David Lang's death speaks, with Shara Worden, is one highlight.... Martin Bresnick's first opera, My Friend's Story, has its premiere in New Haven on June 19.... The singular Laurie Anderson is curating a series of events at the River to River Festival, June 18-22.
June 05, 2013 | Permalink
Writing for The New Yorker
Some of the longer essays and profiles are collected in my book Listen to This.
Mallarmé, April 11, 2016.
Orson Welles, Dec. 7, 2015.
Gay Berlin, Jan. 26, 2015.
Beethoven, Oct. 20, 2014.
Adorno and Benjamin, Sept. 15, 2014.
Henry Wallace, Oct. 14, 2013.
Shakespeare, Wagner, Aldridge, July 29, 2013.
Love on the March, Nov. 12, 2012.
Harry Kessler, April 23, 2012.
Gesualdo, Dec. 19 and 26, 2011.
Oscar Wilde, Aug. 9, 2011.
Ten Bars of the Ring, April 25, 2011.
John Cage, Oct. 4, 2010.
Fictional composers, Aug. 24, 2009.
Marian Anderson, April 13, 2009.
Bernstein, Dec. 15, 2008.
Classical music in China, July 7, 2008.
Copland (excerpt from The Rest Is Noise), Aug. 27, 2007.
Sibelius (excerpt from The Rest Is Noise), July 7, 2007.
Mozart, July 24, 2006.
Morton Feldman, June 19, 2006.
The Record Effect, June 6, 2005.
Listen to This, Feb. 16, 2004.
Wagner and Tolkien, Dec. 22, 2003.
Pop-music studies, July 14, 2003.
Schoenberg, Feb. 18, 2002.
Verdi, Sept. 24, 2001.
Stravinsky, Nov. 6, 2000.
Shostakovich, March 20, 2000.
Richard Strauss, Dec. 20, 1999.
Bob Dylan, May 10, 1999.
Wagner and Hitler, Aug. 10, 1998.
Pfitzner, July 21, 1997.
Schubert, Jan. 27, 1997.
True Crime, Aug. 19, 1996.
Thomas Mann, March 11, 1996.
Mahler, Sept. 4, 1995.
Kurt Cobain, April 25, 1994.
Wayne Koestenbaum's The Queen's Throat, April 12, 1993.
Yuval Sharon and Hopscotch, Nov. 16, 2015.
Iván Fischer, June 2, 2014.
Joyce DiDonato, Oct. 7, 2013.
Michael Giacchino, May 7, 2010.
Mitsuko Uchida and Marlboro, June 29, 2009.
John Luther Adams, May 12, 2008.
Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Phil, April 30, 2007.
Music education, Sept. 4, 2006.
Peter Sellars and Doctor Atomic, Oct. 3, 2005.
Björk, April 23, 2004.
Radiohead, Aug. 20, 2001.
St. Lawrence Quartet, May 21, 2001.
John Adams, Jan. 8, 2001.
Thomas Adès, Oct. 26, 1998.
Valery Gergiev, April 13, 1998.
Musical Events columns
The Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, April 18, 2016.
Opera Startups, March 28, 2016.
Messiaen in Los Angeles, Abrahamsen in New York, Feb. 22, 2016.
In memoriam Boulez, Jan. 18, 2016.
Marina Abramovic stages Igor Levit's Goldbergs, Jan. 11, 2016.
Heggie's Great Scott in Dallas, López's Bel Canto in Chicago, Jan. 4, 2016.
Kentridge's Lulu at the Met, Nov. 23, 2015.
András Schiff on Schubert, Nov. 2, 2015.
Laurie Anderson at the Armory, Oct. 19, 2015.
Otello at the Met, Oct. 12, 2015.
Twentieth-century symphonies, Aug. 31, 2015.
Harry Partch and Ethel Smyth, Aug. 10, 2015.
Steven Schick in Ojai, July 6 and 13, 2015.
Dusapin's Penthesilea in Brussels, Herreweghe in Gent, April 27, 2015.
The Paris Philharmonie, April 20, 2015.
Meyer Sound in Berkeley, Feb. 23 and March 2, 2015.
Early music at the Met Museum, Feb. 9, 2015.
Meredith Monk and Gabriel Kahane at BAM, Jan. 5. 2015.
Organ and orchestra, Dec. 15, 2014.
Andris Nelsons at the Boston Symphony, Dec. 1, 2014.
Klinghoffer at the Met, Nov. 3, 2014.
Peter Sellars stages the St. Matthew Passion, Oct. 27, 2014.
Netrebko at the Met, Oct. 20, 2014.
The classical cloud, Sept. 8, 2014.
Dudamel, Salonen, and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla at the Hollywood Bowl, Aug. 25, 2014.
The NY Phil Biennial, June 23, 2014.
Spring for Music, May 26, 2014.
Liza Lim, April 28, 2014.
Igor Levit, April 14, 2014.
Carnegie's Vienna Festival, March 24, 2014.
Paweł Szymański and Agata Zubel in Warsaw, March 3, 2014.
Gregory Spears's A Paul's Case at the Prototype Festival, Feb. 3, 2014.
Robert Carsen's Falstaff at the Met, Jan. 6, 2014.
The Britten centenary, Dec. 9, 2013.
Hilary Hahn's commissions and the demise of City Opera, Nov. 25, 2013.
Gergiev's politics, Nov. 4, 2013.
Turnage's Anna Nicole at City Opera, Oct. 7, 2013.
Castorf's Ring at Bayreuth, Aug. 26, 2013.
Chéreau's Elektra in Aix, Aug. 12, 2013.
John Luther Adams's Become Ocean in Seattle, July 8, 2013.
James Levine returns, Alan Gilbert at the NY Phil, June 10 and 17, 2013.
Rebecca Saunders and female composers, April 29, 2013.
TENET's Tenebrae series, April 15, 2013.
Gotham Chamber Opera's Cavalli, April 8, 2013.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, March 4, 2013.
David Lang's love fail, Michael Gordon's Timber, Jan. 7, 2013.
Adès's Tempest and David Alden's Ballo at the Met, Dec. 3, 2012.
A Rite of Spring conference in North Carolina, Nov. 19, 2012.
The Donaueschingen Festival, Nov. 12, 2012.
The Franck Symphony, Oct. 22, 2012.
Stockhausen's Mittwoch in Birmingham, Cage's Europeras in Bochum, Sept. 10, 2012.
Andris Nelsons and Gunther Schuller at Tanglewood, Aug. 27, 2012.
The Brooklyn Philharmonic, July 2, 2012.
John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary, June 18, 2012.
Fischer-Dieskau, Gerhaher, Boesch, June 4, 2012.
Auber at the Opéra Comique, and the Paris scene, April 30, 2012.
MTT's American Mavericks festival, April 16, 2012.
The Kennedy Center, April 2, 2012.
The Ring disaster the Met, Rufus Wainwright's Prima Donna, March 12, 2012.
Glass's Einstein and Ninth Symphony, Feb. 13 and 20, 2012.
The Busoni Piano Concerto, Jan. 9, 2012.
Operas by Nico Muhly, Nov. 28, 2011.
The White Light Festival at Lincoln Center, Nov. 14, 2011.
Opera in Tulsa and Kansas City, Oct. 31, 2011.
Atys at BAM, Anna Bolena at the Met, Oct. 10, 2011.
Weinberg's The Passenger, Sept. 5, 2011.
Tannhäuser, Meistersinger, and Lohengrin at Bayreuth, Aug. 15, 2011.
Bruckner at Lincoln Center, Aug. 1, 2011.
The opera scene in Italy, July 25, 2011.
The Oregon Symphony at Spring for Music, June 6, 2011.
More problems at City Opera and the Met, May 9, 2011.
Gardiner's Bach cantatas, April 11, 2011.
J. C. Adams's Nixon at the Met, J. L. Adams's Inuksuit at the Armory, March 14, 2011.
The New World Symphony in Miami, Feb. 14 and 21, 2011.
Blue Heron and Renaissance polyphony, Jan. 10, 2011.
Georg Friedrich Haas, Nov. 29, 2010.
Bernstein's Quiet Place at City Opera, Nov. 15, 2010.
Eric Owens in Rheingold at the Met, Oct. 18, 2010.
Muti in Chicago, de Waart in Milwaukee, Oct. 11, 2010.
Berg at Bard, Sept. 13, 2010.
CDs: Stephen Hough, Thomas Larcher, Isabelle Faust, Aug. 9, 2010.
New scores at New York City Ballet, June 28, 2010.
The Emerson Quartet's Dvořák, June 7, 2010.
Andriessen's Commedia, May 3, 2010.
William Christie at BAM, April 19, 2010.
Problems at Peter Gelb's Met, March 29, 2010.
The Minnesota and other orchestras at Carnegie, March 22, 2010.
Xenakis, March 1, 2010.
Poisson Rouge and the classical crisis, Feb. 8, 2010.
Schubert and Beckett, Jan. 4, 2010.
Dudamel arrives in LA, Dec. 14, 2009.
Meredith Monk, Nov. 9, 2009.
Alan Gilbert arrives at the NY Phil, Oct. 19. 2009.
Tosca at the Met, Oct. 5, 2009.
Bel canto at Caramoor at the art of improvisation, Aug. 31, 2009.
Pristine Audio and music online, Aug, 10, 2009.
Make Music New York, July 6, 2009.
Barenboim and Boulez's Mahler, June 8, 2009.
Cavalli at Yale, May 25, 2009.
Salonen's farewell in Los Angeles, May 4, 2009.
The renovation of Alice Tully Hall, March 16, 2009.
Mendelssohn at 200, Feb. 23, 2009.
Cheap seats in New York, Feb. 2, 2009.
The centennials of Carter and Messiaen, Jan. 5, 2009.
Adams's Doctor Atomic at the Met, Oct. 27, 2008.
Stockhausen's Gruppen in Berlin, Oct. 13, 2008.
The social history of the classical concert, Sept. 8, 2008.
Shakespeare operas at Glimmerglass, Aug. 25, 2008.
The Brentano Quartet and late style, May 5, 2008.
One Tristan and two Isoldes at the Met, March 31, 2008.
John Doyle's Peter Grimes at the Met, March 17, 2008.
Carl Nielsen, Feb. 25, 2008.
Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood, Feb, 4, 2008.
Marin Alsop at the Baltimore Symphony, Jan. 7, 2008.
The "Berlin in Lights" festival at Carnegie, Dec. 3, 2007.
Glass's Appomattox and Eighth Symphony, Nov. 5, 2007.
Mostly Mozart and the Lincoln Center Festival, Aug. 20, 2007.
Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland, July 30, 2007.
Orchestras in Indianapolis, Nashville, Birmingham, June 25, 2007.
Wordless Music, April 16, 2007.
Lang Lang and Yundi, April 2, 2007.
Mahagonny in LA, Gordon's Grapes of Wrath in Minnesota, March 5, 2007.
Takemitsu, Feb. 5, 2007.
Adams's Flowering Tree, the Kurtágs in Vienna, Dec. 4, 2006.
Haitink's Beethoven, Gergiev's Shostakovich, Nov. 20, 2006.
Reich at 70, Nov. 13, 2006.
Minghella's Butterfly and Peter Gelb at the Met, Oct. 9, 2006.
In memoriam Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Sept. 25, 2006.
Operas by Hartke, Rorem, Goldenthal, Carter, Aug. 21, 2006.
Barenboim's farewell in Chicago, in memoriam Ligeti, July 3, 2006.
The Volpe gala at the Met, June 12, 2006.
Handel with William Christie and René Jacobs, May 8, 2006.
Saariaho's Adriana Mater, April 24, 2006.
Kronos Quartet, April 10, 2006.
Ian Bostridge's Britten, March 27, 2006.
Puccini reconsidered, Feb. 27, 2006.
Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, Feb. 6, 2006.
Picker's American Tragedy at the Met, Dec. 26, 2005.
David Robertson at the St. Louis Symphony, Dec. 5, 2005.
Giacinto Scelsi's quartets, Nov. 21, 2005.
Rossini and Dukas at City Opera, Oct. 24, 2005.
CDs: Domingo's Tristan, Hyperion, Golijov's Ayre, Sept. 26, 2005.
Mostly Mozart, Aug. 29, 2005.
Schreker's Gezeichneten in Salzburg, Aug. 22, 2005.
Glass's Koyaanisqatsi, June 27, 2005.
The Sellars-Viola Tristan in Paris, May 30, 2005.
Jordi Savall, May 2, 2005.
Harry Partch's Oedipus, April 18, 2005.
Ruders's Kafka's Trial in Copenhagen, Adamo's Lysistrata in Houston, March 28, 2005.
Lupu and Anderszewski, Feb. 28, 2005.
Osmo Vänskä at the Minnesota Orchestra, Feb. 14, 2005.
Bolcom's A Wedding in Chicago, Rodelinda at the Met, Jan. 3, 2005.
James Levine at the Boston Symphony, Nov. 29, 2004.
Gordon's Decasia and election-year music, Nov. 8, 2004.
CDs: Jacobs's Mozart, Netrebko bel canto, Fellner's Bach, Sept. 27, 2004.
Shostakovich at Bard, Sept. 6, 2004.
Schlingensief's Parsifal at Bayreuth, Aug. 9, 2004.
Ives Festival at the Philharmonic, June 7, 2004.
Student composers: Muhly, Andres, Little, May 17, 2004.
Leon Fleisher master class, April 19, 2004.
Mattila's Salome, April 5, 2004.
Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, March 22, 2004.
Adès's Tempest, March 1, 2004.
Colin Davis's Peter Grimes, Feb. 2, 2004.
The opening of Disney Hall, Nov. 17, 2003.
Andrew Manze and Pomerium, Nov. 3, 2003.
Ned Rorem, Oct. 20, 2003.
The opening of Zankel Hall, Sept. 29, 2003.
Golijov's Ainadamar, Sept. 1, 2003.
Gergiev's Russian festival at the Met, Aug. 4, 2003.
Bang on a Can, June 30, 2003.
Liszt in Cincinnati, June 9, 2003.
Kiki and Herb, May 19, 2003.
Wispelwey's Bach, Muraro's Messiaen, April 21, 2003.
Berlioz and Dalbavie, March 31, 2003.
Uchida and Andsnes, March 17, 2003.
In memoriam Lou Harrison, Les Troyens at the Met, March 3, 2003.
Arvo Pärt in Copenhagen, Dec. 2, 2002.
Pappano at Covent Garden, Nov. 11, 2002.
Messiaen's St. Francis in San Francisco and Berlin, Oct. 28, 2002.
Rattle in Berlin, Maazel in New York, Oct. 7, 2002.
Mark Adamo's Little Women, July 22, 2002.
Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, May 27, 2002.
Monteverdi operas at BAM, May 13, 2002.
Trouble at City Opera, April 1, 2002.
Prokofiev's War and Peace at the Met, March 4, 2002.
Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Met, Jan. 7, 2002.
Vocal recitals, Dec. 10, 2001.
Martha Argerich, Nov. 5, 2001.
Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic, Oct. 22, 2001.
Music after 9/11, Oct. 8, 2001.
Ligeti, May 28, 2001.
Prokofiev's Gambler at the Met, April 9, 2001.
Golijov's Pásion, March 5, 2001.
Vivaldi, Feb. 19, 2001.
Busoni and Frank Martin, Jan. 29, 2001.
Marc-André Hamelin and Earl Wild, Dec. 18, 2000.
New music at Miller Theatre, Dec. 4, 2000.
Flimm's Fidelio at the Met, Oct. 30, 2000.
Jansons in Pittsburgh, Oct. 9, 2000.
The Flimm Ring at Bayreuth, Sept. 4, 2000.
Electronic music at the Lincoln Center Festival, July 31, 2000.
Glyndebourne and Aldeburgh, July 10, 2000.
CD collecting, June 5, 2000.
Lauren Flanigan and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, May 8, 2000.
Boulez at 75, April 10, 2000.
Bach anniversary, March 6, 2000.
Anne-Sophie Mutter, Feb. 7, 2000.
Harbison's Gatsby, Jan. 10, 2000.
Tristan at the Met, Dec. 6, 1999.
Millennial music at the NY Phil, Nov. 29, 1999.
Bolcom's View from the Bridge, Feldman's Second Quartet, Nov. 1, 1999.
Busoni's Faust in Salzburg, Aug, 23, 1999.
Central Park at Glimmerglass, Aug. 9, 1999.
The Ring in San Francisco, Salonen in Ojai, July 12, 1999.
Cleveland Orchestra, May 31, 1999.
Ian Bostridge's Schubert, May 17, 1999.
Messiaen's Canyons, April 5, 1999.
The Great Pianists series on Philips, March 29, 1999.
Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, March 8, 1999.
Korngold and Elgar, Feb. 15, 1999.
Milton Babbitt and Elliot Carter, Dec. 21, 1998.
Tchaikovsky, Nov. 30, 1998.
Previn's Streetcar Named Desire, Oct. 5, 1998.
In memoriam Schnittke, Aug. 31, 1998.
Cecil Taylor and Sonic Youth, July 13, 1998.
Ockeghem and others, June 1, 1998.
Robert Wilson's Lohengrin, March 30, 1998.
Oscar-nominated scores, March 9, 1998.
Colin Davis's Sibelius, Jan. 12, 1998.
MTT in San Francisco, Nov. 17, 1997.
Oasis and Radiohead, Sept. 29, 1997.
Gubaidulina's Viola Concerto in Boston, June 16, 1997.
Pavement's Brighten the Corners, May 26, 1997.
Mark Lamos's Wozzeck at the Met, March 10, 1997.
The NY Phil's American Classics series, Henry Cowell in Berkeley, Feb. 17, 1997.
Tim Albery's Midsummer Night's Dream at the Met, Dec. 16, 1996.
Book reviews, shorter pieces
Ginastera, April 11, 2016.
David Lang at the Golden Globes, Feb. 29, 2016.
Nancarrow at the Whitney, June 22, 2015.
Juilliard's "Focus!" on Japan, Feb. 2, 2015.
Chaya Czernowin, Oct. 27, 2014.
Steven Schick, Feb. 3, 2014.
Kubrick's 2001, Sept. 23, 2013.
Georg Friedrich Haas in New York, Nov. 11, 2013.
The Lutosławski Third, Jan. 28, 2013.
Uchida's Schubert, April, 30, 2012.
Björk's Biophilia, Feb. 27, 2012.
Augustin Hadelich, Jan. 4, 2010.
Ralph Shapey, Dec. 7, 2009.
Lisa Bielawa, March 2, 2009.
Quatuor Ebène, April 6, 2009.
The classical Internet, Oct. 22, 2007.
Dylan's "Ain't Talkin'," Sept. 18, 2006.
La Monte Young's String Trio, Oct. 24, 2005.
In memoriam David Diamond, July 11, 2005.
Klinghoffer scandal in Boston, Nov. 19, 2001.
Johanna Fiedler's history of the Met, Nov. 5, 2001.
The New Grove Dictionary of Music, July 9, 2001.
Concert Rage, March 26, 2001.
Bosie Douglas, July 24, 2000.
Stanley Kubrick Was My Friend, Too, Aug. 2, 1999.
Bret Easton Ellis, Jan. 11, 1999.
In memoriam Sinatra, May 25, 1998.
Professor Moriarty, Aug. 11, 1997.
The Finnish Crescendo, April 28, 1997.
David Helfgott, March 17, 1997.
Introduction to the Music Issue, Aug. 26, 1996.
Litigating Led Zeppelin, April 14, 2016.
The Star Wars scores, Jan. 1, 2016.
The music of Orson Welles, Dec. 7, 2015.
Norman Lloyd, Dec. 14, 2015.
Behind the scenes of Hopscotch, Nov. 12, 2015.
In memoriam Carl Schorske, Sept. 28, 2015.
Apple Music, July 6, 2015.
Twenty-first century symphonies, April 11, 2015.
In memoriam Andrew Porter, April 4, 2015.
The Górecki Fourth, Jan. 30., 2015.
Virgil Thomson's criticism, Dec. 4, 2014.
The Anna Madgdalena Bach theory, Oct. 31, 2014.
The Kennedy Center Honors, Sept. 10, 2014.
Strauss, Wagner, and the politics of music, Aug, 20, 2014.
American soldiers and Richard Strauss, July 14, 2014.
Music on the Voyager spacecraft, Feb. 19, 2104.
Chopin's heart, Feb. 5, 2014.
Esa-Pekka Salonen remembers Patrice Chéreau, Dec. 14, 2013.
Alice Herz-Sommer, Nov. 26, 2013.
Women, gays, and classical music, Oct. 3, 2013.
A Wagner Birthday Roast, May 19, 2013.
A Walking Tour of Wagner's New York, May 13, 2013.
Beyond the gay-marriage victory, March 25, 2013.
In memoriam Roger Ebert, April 5, 2013.
Beethoven Dada, April 1, 2013.
Gay-rights victories, Nov. 7, 2012.
The case for Wagner in Israel, Sept. 25, 2012.
Cage at 100, Sept. 4, 2012.
The NY Phil at the Armory, July 6, 2012.
Ruth Baader Ginsburg's favorite records, May 14, 2012.
A Gesualdo photojournal, Dec. 11, 2011.
Zofia Posmysz and music at Auschwitz, Aug. 29, 2011.
Top Ten Glissandos, Feb. 26, 2010.
The Beatles and the avant-garde, Feb. 23, 2010.
The Fatal X, Feb. 2, 2010.
Decoding the Eroica, Dec. 15, 2009.
Sondheim's Swedish fetish, Nov. 11, 2o09.
The case of the missing candlesticks, Oct. 29, 2009.
Bernstein, Nixon, and the FBI, April 14, 2009.
Selected pieces for The New York Times, 1992-97
Diamond's Eleventh, Dec. 7, 1992.
John Moran's Everyday Newt Burman, March 15, 1993.
Ligeti in Boston, March 20, 1993.
Caroliner, April 15, 1993.
Satie's Vexations, May 10, 1993.
Finns beyond Sibelius, May 30, 1993.
Schreker, Zemlinsky, Schmidt, Nov. 21, 1993.
Petr Kotik and SEM, Dec. 3, 1993.
Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dec. 12, 1993.
Interview with Schnittke, Feb. 10, 1994.
In memoriam Lutosławski, March 6, 1994.
Elektra w/ Jones, Rysanek, Voigt, April 4, 1994.
AMM, May 7, 1994.
Schulhoff and lost composers of the 20s and 30s, June 12, 1994.
Reinbert de Leeuw at Tanglewood, Aug. 11, 1994.
Esa-Pekka Salonen interview, Nov. 27, 1994.
Schubert piano sonatas on recording, Dec. 4, 1994.
Richard Strauss on recording, Feb. 5, 1995.
Brendel's Beethoven, April 12, 1995.
Boulez at 70, April 16, 1995.
Feldman's For Philip Guston, May 13, 1995.
Galina Ustvolskaya, May 28, 1995.
Zimmermann's Die Soldaten in Dresden, performances in Prague, June 6, 1995.
Magnus Lindberg and Thomas Adès at Aldeburgh, July 2, 1995.
Schnittke's Faust, July 6, 1995.
Music in World War II, Aug. 20, 1995.
Biber and Zelenka, Oct. 8, 1995.
Musical personality, Dec. 10, 1995.
Purcell, Jan. 14, 1996.
Orson Welles, Jan. 21, 1996.
Chailly at the Concertgebouw, Feb. 25, 1996.
Osmo Vänskä and the Iceland Symphony, Feb. 29, 1996.
MTT's Mavericks Festival, June 19, 1996.
Music News, July 14, 1996.
Percy Grainger, Aug. 11, 1996.
Herrmann's Vertigo, Oct. 6, 1996.
Babbitt's Clarinet Quintet, Oct. 16, 1996.
Composers' graves, March 30, 1997.
The music of Thomas Mann, April 6, 1997.
Brahms, The New Republic, Jan. 23, 1998.
Wallace Stevens, Slate, Jan. 8, 1998.
The memoirs of Klaus Kinski, Slate, Jan. 24, 1997.
Adorno, Transition, 1996.
New Zealand rock, Feed, 1995.
Schnittke, The New Republic, Sept. 28, 1992.
Corigliano's Ghosts of Versailles, The New Republic, March 9, 1992.
Britten on WHRB, 1988.
Selected blog posts
Tiny Valhalla, Applause, Star-Spangled Wagner, Björk's Favorite Records, Did Tosca survive?, Chord of the curse, Ligeti's Third Quartet, Herrliche or herrlichste?, Wikileaks, music, and power, Aptest eve, Schoenberg buys a car, The Popov Discontinuity, Vivaldi in Antarctica, Fanfare for the Royal Wedding, Benchmark and Send, David Raksin, Full fathom nine, For Peter Lieberson, Deep River, For Andrew Patner.
June 04, 2013 | Permalink
Back in 2007, on the occasion of the death of Tikhon Khrennikov, the longtime head of the Soviet Composers' Union, I offered a few thoughts on a widely maligned figure, taking note of scattered attempts to rehabilitate him. Was he the voice of ideological oppression, spreading misery through the ranks of his more gifted colleagues? Or did he quietly work to protect those colleagues from worse fates? Glancing through the most recent literature on Soviet music and composers, I don't see any clear consensus emerging. Kiril Tomoff's Creative Union, a history of the Composers' Union, yields a surprisingly positive portrait. Simon Morrison's recent work on and around Prokofiev — The People's Artist and the new book Lina and Serge, a moving biography of Prokofiev's first wife — puts Khrennikov in a generally unsympathetic light, yet records gestures of compassion on his part, such as his attempts to have Lina released from prison. (She was sent to the gulag in 1948.) Alexander Ivashkin, in the latest issue of the Paul Sacher Journal, has an acidulous account of Khrennikov's relationship with Stravinsky, exposing the bureaucrat's more absurd self-justifications. (Did you know that in 1962 Stravinsky embraced the idea of moving to the Soviet Union? So Khrennikov claimed.) Likewise, Khrennikov plays a less than heroic role in David Fanning's biography of Mieczysław Weinberg. Khrennikov often did not help his own case in his later interviews. "Don't forget there were many Jews in musical life and they launched unfair attacks on my compositions," he told Martin Sixsmith in 2006, before going on to praise Stalin.
Even the most Khrennikov-friendly scholar, though, might balk at the formulation attached to an upcoming Khrennikov centenary concert in St. Petersburg, to which David Shengold drew my attention: "Fate granted Tikhon Nikolaevich Khrennikov a long and productive life. Destiny decreed that for half a century Khrennikov stood at the helm of a composers’ organization – from 1948 as Secretary General and from 1957 as First Secretary of the Board of the Union of Composers of the USSR. During the worst years of ideological diktat he was forced to bend to the harsh dogmas of official normative aesthetics and the infringements of officials on his professional honour and the merits of musicians. The main proof of his gift as a composer, however, and the measure of him as a man remains his music." The last phrase is inarguable. Khrennikov's music, adroitly constructed but lacking in character, sums him up fairly well.
The conductor of the Khrennikov Memorial Concert will be Valery Gergiev, recently named a Hero of Labor.
June 04, 2013 | Permalink
Longtime readers will have seen this photo a number of times. I took it while driving the Trona-Wildrose Road, in Panamint Valley, CA, in 1999. In an interview for the wonderful blog Gilded Birds — which canvasses "contemporary ideals of beauty" from a range of artists, musicians, and writers — I try to explain why this snapshot obsesses me. Forgive the gratuitous Wagner and Schopenhauer references: I am in that place.
June 03, 2013 | Permalink
June 02, 2013 | Permalink
In the past decade or two, we've seen a significant wave of pop-based musicians who've taken a deep interest in twentieth-century classical composition. Radiohead, Björk, and Joanna Newsom come immediately to mind. Here are two younger examples, who otherwise don't have much in common: Holly Herndon, a fast-rising electronic artist who studied at Mills College and names Galina Ustvolskaya and Maryanne Amacher as major influences: and Dywane Thomas, Jr., aka MonoNeon, a Memphis-born bass-guitarist and composer who draws on the microtonal tradition. (See also "Memphis Jookin with Microtones" and "Julián Carrillo in a Memphis Juke Joint.") I like a sentence in the MonoNeon Art Manifesto: "Have the southern soul/blues and funk at the bottom and the experimental/avant-garde at the top." And they say all the possibilities are exhausted....
This concludes Anti-Anniversary Week; for prior installments, read down.
June 02, 2013 | Permalink