Posted inInterview

Faces of Change

Chineke! is Europe’s first black and minority ethnic orchestra. Founded by Chi-chi Nwanoku, its artistic director and the principal double bassist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the ensemble is made up of independently active musicians who come together especially for projects. The name derives from a word in the southeastern Nigerian language […]

Posted inHistory

Black Magic

On the evening of March 7, 1983, the French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier went for a drink at a bar in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris. He picked up a young man there and brought him back to his apartment for sex. The man then stabbed Vivier to death. If, before he fled, the killer had […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Olga Neuwirth Playlist

Malaria! – “Geld/Money” In the 1980s, I was a punk living in the Austrian countryside, and I couldn’t wait to trade alpine meadows for a big, rough city. This all-girl band from Berlin made provocative, social-political, tough-as-nails songs; they inspired me to be loud, and ironic, and stir things up in my uptight environment.  Besides […]

Posted inHistory

Free But Alone

No one composer, perhaps in the history of Western classical music, was more active in averting history’s prying eyes than Johannes Brahms. Brutally self-critical about his own work and exceptionally shy when it came to his personal life, Brahms sought to preserve his legacy by keeping his private thoughts out of the grips of unforgiving […]

Posted inEssay

Strange Dissonance

Goethe’s “Erlkönig” is one of the most horrifying poems in all of world literature. At its center is an unspeakable tragedy, the death of a child. Also shocking is the language of the poem: it omits any description of the boy’s suffering. The very objectivity of Goethe’s language is chilling. In Schubert’s setting of “Erlkönig,” […]

Posted inInterview

Decades

I studied composition with Georg Friedrich Haas in Basel from 2011-2013, his last years there before his move to New York City, where he teaches at Columbia University. In my Master’s recital, a musician showed late and an instrument I built broke, and I had trouble facing the—very supportive—audience. He managed to make me do […]

Posted inInterview

Stay Worried

I first met Betsy Jolas, a distinguished composer with a nearly 70-year career, in 2005. I had received a scholarship to attend the Academie Villecroze in Provence, France, and performed a piece of hers there. The work was “Mon Ami,” for a pianist; it’s unique in that the pianist sings, her voice melding with the […]