Posted inInterview

Give Them A Vision

I studied with the violinist Roberto González-Monjas at the Mozarteum, in Salzburg, from 2009–2011. My age and once my neighbor in a dormitory, he is now principal concert master of the Swiss chamber orchestra Musikkollegium Winterthur and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Selfies of him with Yuja Wang appear from time […]

Posted inEssay

Sound in Flight

The Airbus A320 was quiet as it waited on the runway behind the other planes for takeoff. I put on a Guillaume de Machaut motet, “Tribulatio proxima est et non est qui adjuvet,” in my headphones. The pilot pushed the throttle forward and the plane picked up speed. A male voice joined the two female […]

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Adding To The Pantheon

I met the keyboard player and early music savant Ton Koopman one wan, gray morning in the northern German city of Lübeck, where he was performing in a festival dedicated to the baroque organist and composer Dietrich Buxtehude. He wore a dark blue blazer, a light blue shirt, round glasses, and pants the color of […]

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Luminescence

To say about an artist that you “either love them or hate them” is a cliché. Talking about Brian Ferneyhough requires more precision. The absolute mastery of his work is unquestionable. So rather than loving or hating the music, you either worship it or reject its premise absolutely. It’s difficult to talk to a composer […]

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Fissures

An Interview with Philip Venables By · Title Image © Harald Hoffmann · Date 08/24/2017 I met up with the English composer Philip Venables one recent evening at an outdoor bar in Berlin, where he’s been living for the last eight years. He wore a dark cap, glasses, overalls, and a rainbow-striped t-shirt. Over beer […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Gérard Grisey Playlist

On August 16, the Salzburg Festival ended its focus on the French composer Gérard Grisey with a complete performance of his cycle “Les espaces acoustiques” by the Austrian ORF Symphony Orchestra and Maxime Pascal conducting. It was an hour and a half during which the music’s timbral and structural richness occupied the brain’s entire perceptive […]

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Fill the Cracks with Gold

Recently, I spoke with the performer, composer, dancer, and musician Elizabeth A. Baker over Skype, from her home in Florida. A large fold-out picture of Schubert and some of her own paintings hung on the walls behind her. We talked about commercial music, the discourse on diversity, and going to the sex shop for composition […]

Posted inReport

A Black Hole

One evening quite some time ago, in a cramped computer lab, it struck me that maybe my professor had fallen in love with my classmate. Nick Martin was finishing the parts for a piece of his—a nagging job—and the professor was helping him. Recently, I called Martin. “Do you remember [the professor] helping you with […]

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DNA Of Our Time

An elderly woman flicks the switch on a silver box. Inside a glass container a yellow light turns on and low electric hum begins to sound. She blinks. With her bandaged hand on a wooden handle, she slides some kind of sheet of paper, with metallic stubs, through the hanging strips of a mysterious machine. […]

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Prisms

The French composer Mark Andre writes music of a vivid, fragile melancholy. To me, it sounds modest, careful, and penetrating, like W.G. Sebald’s book The Rings of Saturn, in which precise observations of landscapes, meals, rooms, and destruction accumulate to devastating effect.I met Andre one rainy afternoon in a café in Berlin, where he has […]