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The Magnet

One January morning in 2013, an orchestra was recording at 2:30 a.m. They had been working at Petropavlovskaya ulitsa 25A, the P. I. Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre in Perm, Russia, since midnight. The piece was “Per pietà, ben mi, perdona,” Fiordiligi’s aria with horn obligato from Mozart’s opera “Così fan tutte.” It still wasn’t […]

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Deutsche Mega-phon

Photography © NILS DITTBRENNER There aren’t many brands like Ferrari or Lamborghini in classical music. For a long time, Deutsche Grammophon was one of the only ones. It was obvious why: the label stood for tradition, good taste, objects of value, cutting edge technology. When you bought something from Deutsche Grammophon, you knew you were […]

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Other Languages

Sometime in the 1780s, a low-ranked soldier of the Portuguese crown in Brazil named Joaquim José da Silva Xavier began a gradual process of political awakening. Later known as Tiradentes (“tooth-puller”), a derogatory term that referred to his past as an amateur dentist, he organized a group of citizens in a rebellion called the Inconfidência […]

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Oud of Damascus

In February of 2011, 15 children were arrested in Darʿā, Syria. They were accused of painting slogans criticizing the regime on the school walls: “Down with the President” and “Your turn, Doctor,” an allusion to Bashar al-Assad’s degree in opthalmology. The children were beaten up and tortured in prison. In response, a protest against police […]

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The Middle of the Highway

An Interview with Vilde Frang By · Photography © MARCO BORGGREVE / WARNER CLASSICS · Date 12/22/2016 On a recent Wednesday, I met the Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang in a café in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood: an area popular with classical musicians for its chic, international atmosphere. She had to cancel our previous appointment, writing […]

Posted inOpinion

The Prodigy Complex

A journalist, Janet Malcolm once wrote, preys “on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.” Great profiles always seem to contain an element of backstabbing. That’s why it’s wrong to write one of a child. When journalists betray their subjects, they are at least adults; they don’t need to […]

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Established Meaning

For some interviews, you exchange what feels like dozens of emails with publicists. You’re asked what you want to ask. When I wrote to Reinhard Goebel to see if he wanted to speak to me, he wrote, “You won’t be needing to suggest topics for us to discuss. I can talk about a lot of […]

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Dresden Wall

The standard translation for the acronym of the anti-immigrant, Dresden-based protest group Pegida is Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West. But the movement’s German name uses the word Abendland—roughly, “Occident”—a term that comes closer to evoking its irrational, almost apocalyptic, clash-of-civilizations mentality. The cellist Jan Vogler grew up in East Berlin and lives […]

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Among Strangers

“The talk about music being a universal language is a used and abused cliché,” says Kinan Azmeh, the Syrian clarinetist featured in Morgan Neville’s film “The Music of Strangers.” While there are some basic building blocks of music, its sounds, grammar, and syntax—not to mention methods of teaching, learning, and performing—are as various as the […]

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Sala São Paulo

On a Friday evening last December, my wife and I arrived at one of São Paulo’s major train stations, the Estação da Luz, during rush hour. Several metropolitan lines connect with regional transit to the suburbs there, and it was thronged with tired commuters. We elbowed our way past them and through the station’s labyrinthine […]