Peter Schickele’s “Last Tango in Bayreuth”: An Awful Lot of Bassoons

Last Wednesday, May 22, marked the 211th anniversary of Wagner’s birth. During his lifetime, the German Romanticist became a cult-like figure, revealing magical new orchestral colors and pushing tonality and formal scale to their ecstatic limits. In contrast with Brahms the traditionalist, Wagner appeared to offer a radical new vision. Looking back on Wagner’s work, Claude Debussy more accurately described it as “a beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn.” The …

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Remembering Peter Schickele, Zany Creator of “P.D.Q. Bach”

Peter Schickele, the American composer and classical music satirist, passed away on January 16, 2024 at his home in Bearsville, New York. He was 88. Born in Ames, Iowa, Schickele was a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Juilliard School. He studied with Roy Harris and Vincent Persichetti. As a composer, he produced numerous symphonic, choral, and chamber works, as well as music for film and the Broadway stage. Yet, he will …

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The Bells of Saint Petersburg

At The Listeners’ Club, every Christmas we remember 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. As the bells of Zurich faded away in the episode’s opening moments, with infectious enthusiasm Haas declared, …

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“I Stood on De Ribber Ob Jerdon”: Marian Anderson

During a career which spanned forty years, the American contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993) performed at major concert venues which included the Metropolitan Opera. Her repertoire included opera, lieder, and African American spirituals. In 1939, when segregation prevented her from singing at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., Anderson performed at an open air Easter Sunday concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which was organized with the assistance of Eleanor Roosevelt. The integrated …

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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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Remembering Alex DePue

A fatal car accident in Mexico claimed the life of the accomplished fiddler Alex DePue on Thursday morning. He was 49. Alex and his violin-playing brothers formed the popular DePue Brothers Band which specializes in “a vivid blend of bluegrass, classical, and rock genres.” Alex DePue’s rock star virtuosity is evident in this clip, which blends Paganini with Yes’ Owner of a Lonely Heart and Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal: Featured Image: Photograph by Amy E. Voigt

Remembering Dale Clevenger

Dale Clevenger, the legendary principal horn player for the Chicago Symphony from 1966 to 2013, passed away on January 5. He was 81. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Clevenger began playing the horn at the age of 13. Before joining the Chicago Symphony, he was a member of Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of the Air. His discography included the Grammy-winning 1968 album, The Antiphonal Music of Gabrieli, featuring the brass sections …

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