Posted inBreaking

Requiem for a Tweet

Twitter was never a very musical social medium. Unlike YouTube, you couldn’t listen to ten hours of “Für Elise” on repeat; unlike TikTok, teenagers didn’t go viral for singing sea shanties. You can’t really share your own music like on SoundCloud or Bandcamp, and probably no one will care about your rare vinyl of Gérard […]

Posted inInterview

A Glimpse of the Butterfly

Few conductors manage to cross the invisible boundary separating contemporary music ensembles (with their emphasis on ephemeral premieres) from mainstream orchestras (where even the 867th rendition of a Brahms symphony is expected to sound gripping and fresh). The American David Robertson is one such conductor. In 1992, Pierre Boulez appointed Robertson music director of the […]

Posted inInterview

“Will I Die? You Bet I Will.”

Steve Reich is the Bob Dylan of classical music: Everyone loves the revolutionary early stuff (“Come Out,” “Piano Phase,” “Four Organs,”) but the variety and longevity of the career that followed inspires more controversy. And also like Dylan, whose 2020 album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” was largely acclaimed, Reich’s most recent work is worth a […]

Posted inBreaking

Unveiling

On September 13, a 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman named Mahsa Amini was detained by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “morality police” in Tehran. Three days later, she died in police custody. Protests erupted around the country, and while their causes are manifold, they have been led by women and take as their primary target what Iranian […]

Posted inBreaking

Music in the Background

Classical music-theory academia is a small field with limited professional opportunities, to say the least. So it might seem surprising that the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, an annual music theory journal dedicated to the work of Austrian-Jewish musicologist Heinrich Schenker based at the University of North Texas, has been searching for a new editor (or […]

Posted inInterview

Targeted Melodies

In “What Grieves Frenzy Drown’d,” an album released on SCRIPTS Records in April by 27-year-old New York-based guitarist Alec Goldfarb, melodies rise out of coarse microtonal string textures like strange objects—both ancient and modern, water-smooth rocks and plastic detritus—found on a rough-hewn beach. Occasionally these melodies sound familiar, influenced by Goldfarb’s immersion in Indian classical […]

Posted inInterview

Completed by Perception

When I was 13 or so, I raced through Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, finishing the final volume, The Amber Spyglass, on Christmas eve. I carried the complex melancholy of the ending around with me for weeks afterward in defiance of holiday cheer.  Recently, I realized that Pullman is also a classical music fan. […]

Posted inReview

The Indifferent Cosmos

In July 1996, Gérard Grisey was at work on the first movement of what would be his final composition, the “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil”  (“Four songs for crossing the threshold”) when he made a note to himself in his journal. “If I ever compose an opera,” he wrote, “make the stakes and the […]

Posted inReport

Trial and Error

In November 2021, two trumpets of the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal in western Germany slithered up a chromatic motive at the beginning of the fourth movement—the “Tuba Mirum”—from Antonin Dvořák’s Requiem before disappearing into an unsettling augmented woodwind chord. The kind of exposed orchestral passage that only registers as difficult when someone cracks a note or the […]

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