Posted inInterview

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 […]

Posted inInterview


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 […]

Posted inInterview


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 […]

Posted inInterview

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 […]

Posted inInterview

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. […]

Posted inInterview


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 […]

Posted inInterview

Stroke, Sign, Gesture

One recent afternoon, I met up with the German-born, New York-based composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher at a Berlin seafood restaurant. He wore a v-neck t-shirt, and after twice asking the waiter whether the oysters were 100 percent safe to eat, ordered nine of them for us to share, along with a glass of white […]

Posted inInterview

Something Organic

I interviewed the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet by phone one recent evening, while he was in Paris. We made small talk, discussing a Caribbean vacation he took where he had to have a piano flown in to practice on. Then we moved on to the recording of complete works, movie music, and being a gay classical […]