“The Night of the Hunter”: Excerpts from Walter Schumann’s Classic Film Score

Charles Laughton’s 1955 film noir thriller, The Night of the Hunter, starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish, tells the story of a serial killer who poses as a minister in Depression-era West Virginia. Based on a novel by Davis Grubb, the plot centers around two children who are rendered parentless. With ten thousand dollars, stolen by their father who is executed for his crime, the children flee down the Ohio River and …

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Remembering Stanley Drucker

The legendary clarinetist Stanley Drucker passed away on December 19. He was 93. Born in Brooklyn, Drucker entered the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 15, but left after a year to accept a position with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He went on to become principal clarinetist of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1948, Drucker joined the New York Philharmonic. His nearly five-decade-long tenure as principal clarinetist of the New York …

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Remembering Carol Webber

The American soprano and teacher Carol Webber passed away earlier this month. For 24 years, Webber performed with the Metropolitan Opera and numerous regional opera companies throughout North America. Her concert appearances included the opening of the fiftieth anniversary season of Tanglewood. A respected teacher, Webber served on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory, her alma mater,  from 1986 to 1991. Her long-running tenure as a professor at the Eastman School of Music …

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The Bells of Vienna/Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Christmas Carols”

Today’s post celebrates the memory of Karl Haas, the German-American musicologist and host of the long-running radio program, Adventures in Good Music. One of the program’s most popular episodes, The Story of the Bells, aired for many years on Christmas Eve. It documented the varied sounds of church bells across Europe and the Middle East. In Haas’ words, “It’s an awesome sound…a sound which leaves no room for human voices.” To continue this tradition, …

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Jacobus Gallus’ “Mirabile Mysterium”: A Late Renaissance Christmas Motet

The late Renaissance composer, Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591), also known as Jacob Händl, was born in what is now Slovenia and traveled throughout the Bohemian lands of the Holy Roman Empire. His prolific output included more than 500 works, both sacred and secular. Gallus’ five-voice motet, Mirabile mysterium, was first printed in 1586. The text describes a mystical alchemy which is expressed in the motet’s wild dissonances and wandering chromaticism. It is “a …

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Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major, “Le Midi”: Bright and Inventive

Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 7 in C Major, “Le Midi,” is the second installment in a symphonic trilogy (Nos. 6-8) which depicts three times of day: Morning, Midday, and Evening. It was with these inventive works that the 29-year-old Haydn began his nearly three-decade-long tenure as Kapellmeister at the aristocratic court of the Ezterházy family in the spring of 1761. The appointment provided Haydn with top level musicians and a splendid isolation …

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Debussy’s “La plus que lente”: A Sultry Homage to the Café Waltz

Claude Debussy composed La plus que lente in 1910, shortly after the publication of his Préludes, Book I. The brief waltz for solo piano ventures into the sultry, atmospheric world of Parisian café music. Lazy and hauntingly melancholy, it is a dreamy evocation of the sounds of a Gypsy café ensemble. Additionally, at moments, the music anticipates the bluesy strains of jazz. The same year, Debussy visited Budapest and, in a letter, commented on …

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