Archive | October, 2014

Fantasia

Two Nights on Bald Mountain

(Above: A scene from Disney’s Fantasia (1940), which popularized Night on Bald Mountain with a version by conductor Leopold Stokowski.) Modest Mussorgsky’s 1867 tone poem, Night on Bald Mountain was inspired by an old Russian legend which was turned into a ghoulish short story by Nikolai Gogol. The story centers around witches, black magic, and events which you might expect […]

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Philip Johnson's AT&T Building in New York (now Sony Building)

Even Better Than the Real Thing

In 1984, a bold, new skyscraper emerged on the Manhattan skyline, which captured everyone’s attention and became the subject of intense controversy. The Chippendale-inspired broken pediment crown of architect Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building shocked the architectural establishment because it so profoundly violated the ruling aesthetic of the day. This bizarre new icon seemed to be […]

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Dylana_3b

Dylana Jenson’s Sibelius Recording

If you’ve never heard Dylana Jenson’s 1981 recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, take a moment and listen. This soulful and blazing performance is widely regarded to be one of the finest recordings of the Sibelius ever made. It’s a rare gem which deserves more attention. A child prodigy […]

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Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

Brahms' Fourth: A Symphonic Swan Song

Take a moment and consider the vast number of nineteenth century symphonies which, in one way or another, take an unequivocal journey from darkness to light. The long arc of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, with its transcendent final movement, is a perfect example. In the opening of the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth, C minor turns into C major, […]

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luthier Sam Zygmuntowicz

A Vibrating Wooden Box

The debate surrounding comparisons between priceless, old Italian Stradivari and Guarneri violins and the work of top-level, modern luthiers rages on. Meanwhile, the quality of some of the finest contemporary instruments is undeniable. Brooklyn, New York-based luthier Sam Zygmuntowicz has great reverence for the old Italian makers, but he refuses to be intimidated by their mystique, […]

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composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)

Remembering Composer Stephen Paulus

American composer Stephen Paulus passed away yesterday due to complications from a significant stroke he suffered last year. He was 65 years old. Paulus leaves behind a wide range of works, including three violin concertos. William Preucil recorded the first concerto with conductor Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony in the early 1990s. That recording […]

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Comedy Mask at the Majestic Theatre (Boston, MA)

Music and Humor

Leonard Bernstein masterfully explored the subject of humor in music in one of his Young People’s Concerts. The episode takes listeners on a musical tour from Haydn and Rameau to Brahms, Mahler, Prokofiev and Shostakovich and offers insight into why we find certain music funny. To this day, no one has done more for music education than Bernstein. Watching […]

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dramatic coloratura soprano Rita Shane (1940-2014)

Rita Shane Sings The Queen of the Night

Dramatic coloratura soprano Rita Shane passed away last thursday at the age of 78. Following her 1973 Metropolitan Opera debut as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, she appeared regularly at the Met in a total of 71 productions. In 1989, Shane joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music. You can […]

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Trio Wanderer's Fauré Recording

Recently, I’ve been listening to Trio Wanderer’s exceptional 2010 recording of Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartets. The members of the all-French trio (violinist Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, cellist Raphaël Pidoux and pianist Vincent Coq) first performed together as students at the Conservatoire de Paris in the early 1990s. Their background includes studies with the Amadeus Quartet and with Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio. Here, […]

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violinist and pedagoge Carl Flesch (1873-1944)

Happy Birthday, Carl Flesch

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the birth of influential Hungarian-born violinist and pedagogue Carl Flesch (1873-1944). As a teacher, Flesch produced some of the twentieth century’s most notable violinists, including Henryk Szeryng, Ginette Neveu, Josef Hassid, Ivry Gitlis, and Ida Haendel. His book, Art of Violin Playing and his Scale System are still used today. Boris Schwartz, […]

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The Listeners' Club

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