2001: A Space Odyssey Turns 50 and Its Soundtrack Endures

2001: A Space Odyssey.

The ongoing craze among orchestras to present films with live soundtracks has split into separate creative strands. One is focused on recent blockbusters where music is of a more secondary appeal:  that’s arguably the case with the “Home Alone” franchise or the later “Harry Potter” films. On the flip side are films that place music at the forefront, including “On the Waterfront” (music by Leonard Bernstein), “The Red Violin” (John Corigliano), and most significantly, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Continue reading “2001: A Space Odyssey Turns 50 and Its Soundtrack Endures”

For Debussy Anniversary Year, A Fresh Look at His Violin Sonata

Claude Debussy in June 1908 (Otto Wegener/Wikipedia Commons)

As the centennial of Debussy’s death approaches (March 25, 1918), appraisals of his work and career are turning up, including a new biography by Stephen Walsh, newspaper coverage (see Stephen Hough’s New York Times piece),  and recordings (Warner Classics has issued a 33-CD box set of his complete catalog). It’s also a chance for scholars and musicians to ponder Debussy’s innovations, with his painterly approach to harmony and use of non-Western classical sounds like the Javanese gamelan and American jazz. Continue reading “For Debussy Anniversary Year, A Fresh Look at His Violin Sonata”

The Top 10 Classical Music Stories of 2017

Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie opened in January 2017 (Robert Katzki)

In 2017, classical music mirrored aspects of the turbulent world around it. Hurricanes, Brexit, the Trump administration, and allegations of harassment all left their mark on the field. Classical music also did what it often does best: providing a haven in these restless, plugged-in times. That being said, here are ten stories that rose to the surface in 2017. Continue reading “The Top 10 Classical Music Stories of 2017”

Formal Attire at the Opera? Here’s What Some Opera Houses Say

In The Metropolitan Opera House : Scene From Die Meistersinger, 1898 (Public Domain/From the New York Public Library)

In a widely-circulated column in The Guardian, dated Oct. 14, writer Howard Jacobson argues that opera audiences have become too casual, and that men should wear suits and ties to performances in an effort to “commemorate the specialness of an occasion.” He recounts attending a performance of a Mozart opera in London recently and being the only man in his row wearing a formal suit, while others wandered in sporting gym shoes, jeans and polo shirts. Continue reading “Formal Attire at the Opera? Here’s What Some Opera Houses Say”

New York Philharmonic Can’t Get Enough of Mahler

Jaap van Zweden conducts the New York Philharmonic (Photo: Chris Lee)

The New York Philharmonic is entering a bold new era for fans of Gustav Mahler and other late-Romantic symphonists, if the opening-night gala concert, led by Jaap van Zweden, was any indication. The Sept. 19 program featured Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, performed days after van Zweden led the same work at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where he is in his final season as music director.
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Santa Fe Opera’s ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’ on Closing Night

The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs (Ken Howard, Santa Fe Opera)

SANTA FE, NM – Driving north from Santa Fe on Highway 285, a stadium-like structure appears perched above the left side of the road. Turn off at one of the two marked exits, pull into one of the tightly-packed parking lots, and soon you’ll encounter small groups of tailgaters beside their crossover SUVs and Subaru wagons. In most cities, this would be the preamble for an NFL football game, but here, open-air opera is the star attraction. Continue reading “Santa Fe Opera’s ‘The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs’ on Closing Night”