Archive | June, 2014

Appalachian Spring-Martha Graham

Ballet for Martha

Appalachian Spring is a ballet about freedom and endless possibility…the joy and terror of the blank slate at the heart of the mythical American pioneering spirit. The story centers around a young, newly married couple and the building of a farmhouse on an open plot of land in early 1900s rural Pennsylvania. It’s easy to […]

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conductor Julius Rudel

Remembering Julius Rudel

Conductor Julius Rudel passed away yesterday at the age of 93. He will be remembered most for his 22-year leadership of New York City Opera, beginning in 1957. Sadly, the once innovative company, known as the “People’s Opera,” filed for bankruptcy last October. During Julius Rudel’s tenure, the opera gave 19 world premieres and vigorously promoted […]

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Adolf Busch

Adolf Busch: The Violinist Who Stood Up to Fascism

Tully Potter’s collection of books and CD’s, Adolf Busch- The Life of an Honest Musician, published in 2010, tells the remarkable story of one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists. In the years leading up to the Second World War, Adolf Busch (1891-1952) toured Europe as an exponent of the classic German style of violin playing, which […]

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Mozart

Mozart’s "Jupiter" Symphony: An Explosion of Counterpoint

The final movement of Mozart’s final symphony ends with a bang…a joyfully exhilarating explosion of counterpoint. Like a roller coaster ride, this last movement often feels enticingly dangerous, as if it’s on the verge of spinning out of control. Somehow, it always ends up staying on the track. By the end of the coda, Mozart […]

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flower fields in the Alps

Pastorale d’été

J’ai embrassé l’aube d’été. (I have embraced the summer dawn). This epigraph by French poet Arthur Rimbaud is inscribed in the score of Arthur Honegger’s atmospheric tone poem, Pastorale d’été (Summer Pastorale). The piece is like a musical painting. It doesn’t evoke literal images, but instead feelings and loose associations. The natural world awakens amid the powerful […]

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rainy night traffic

Night Traffic

There is a significant update to Monday’s post regarding the Hartford Wagner Festival’s plans to use a “virtual orchestra” in performances of the Ring Cycle. On Monday afternoon the Festival announced that performances would be postponed due to the controversy, which resulted in resignations of key members of the company. Although it was not mentioned in the released statement, an […]

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violin playing robot

Virtual Wagner: Worth the Price of Admission?

A firestorm of controversy has erupted surrounding plans by the Hartford Wagner Festival to perform Wagner’s Ring Cycle with a digital “virtual orchestra.” The festival’s founder, Charles M. Goldstein, has entered sampled sounds of orchestral instruments into a musical software program, which will be played using 24 speakers in the pit. The sounds were provided by a company […]

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The Rodolphe Kreutzer Stradivarius

A Strad in the Attic

It’s a familiar and often dubious story which almost always ends in disappointment…A homeowner discovers a long-forgotten violin tucked away in a dusty attic. On a slip of paper inside the instrument’s f holes, the words “Antonio Stradivari” can be faintly made out. Most of the time, on closer inspection, these instruments are determined to […]

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blue sky

I Remember Sky

Musical theater and art song occasionally meet in the works of Stephen Sondheim. One example is I Remember, a little-known gem from Evening Primrose, a 1966 television musical which appeared on ABC’s Stage 67 series. The psychological plot, inspired by a John Collier short story and adapted by James Goldman, inhabits the world of dreams, imagination and symbolism: […]

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Conductor Sergiu Celibidache wants "More viola!"

The Triumph of Inner Voices

No, this post isn’t about following your intuition…today we’re talking about musical inner voices, those sometimes inconspicuous lines between the melody and the bass, which are often the essence of a piece’s drama. If you have any doubts about the importance of these lines, often played by violas and second violins in orchestral and string quartet repertoire, […]

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The Listeners' Club

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