The Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Composer and Swordsman
As concert presenters overhaul their programming amidst the pandemic, several are taking up the works of Joseph Bologne, better known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Bologne’s largely unsung chamber music, symphonic and even operatic repertoire is turning up in advance of a planned Hollywood biopic, and mirrors a larger racial reckoning across the United States.
Long-Distance, Online Performances Without the Latency?
The question has perplexed a lot musicians since the start of social distancing and quarantines: Is it possible to hold an online performance when performers are spread out in remote locations? The presence of latency, or lag, in the video connections makes such collaboration especially difficult. And most video-conferencing platforms (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime) allow only […]
Celebrating Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day
July 31st was Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day. Yep, that’s a holiday. It’s a moment to reflect on the world’s rare, odd and truly extraordinary instruments. In a video that I produced for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I look at 10 curious inventions that you may hear at its concerts one time or another. They range […]
How the 1918 Flu Pandemic Shaped Classical Music
In the June 2020 issue of BBC Music Magazine I look at various ways in which composers were impacted by the flu epidemic of 1918-20. The virus, which wreaked havoc for nearly three years and left at least 50 million people dead including about 675,000 in the U.S., impacted music in ways both significant and […]
Conrad Tao Performs Rzewski’s Epic Protest Work
Live from his New York City apartment, the pianist Conrad Tao on March 25 performed The People United Will Never Be Defeated, Frederic Rzewski’s epic set of 36 variations on the 1973 Chilean protest song.
Louis Langrée on Beethoven’s Mega-Concert
Concerts were longer in the time of Beethoven, as were attention spans. But even by those standards, the storied program he organized for Vienna’s Theater an der Wien on Dec. 22, 1808 was over the top. Called the Akademie, it ran from 6:30 to 10:30 pm in two parts and included the premieres of the […]
Oscars 2020: Year of The Cello
In listening to several scores to films nominated for Academy Awards in 2020, a particular feature emerges: a prominent cello theme. The instrument has been called on to convey a range of moods and even shaped the plot of at least one film.
Julia Wolfe on Evoking the ’60s in ‘Flower Power’
For all of the iconic protest music that came out of the 1960s and early ’70s, classical composers mostly stayed at a remove from that decade’s turbulent events. There were a handful of noted exceptions, of course, including Terry Riley, La Monte Young, George Crumb and Karlheinz Stockhausen, but their works were not exactly staples […]
The Crown Season 3 Soundtrack Features Beethoven, Chopin
In the third season of the Netflix series “The Crown,” the story spans the mid-1960s to the late ’70s, a period that allows producers to draw on a rich array of popular music. American songbook standards give way to rock anthems by the Kinks, the Four Seasons, Deep Purple, the Who and David Bowie, among […]
Philip Glass Finds Orchestral Converts
The New York Philharmonic recently opened its fall season with the King Lear Overture, its first commissioned score by Philip Glass. Music director Jaap van Zweden was a driving force behind the premiere. “I felt strongly that this was a symphonic composer that needed more attention from our orchestra,” the Dutch conductor told me in […]