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Tonefoil Hat, Episode 3

Listen to Episode 1 of Tonefoil Hat here.Listen to Episode 2 of Tonefoil Hat here. Masterclass 6 of David Lucas Burge’s Perfect Pitch Ear Training SuperCourse starts much the same as the previous five: with chatter. He tells me that through his course I will start to experience “a little Christmas of musical perception.” This […]

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Tonefoil Hat, Episode 5

Get started with Tonefoil Hat here. In a 2016 New Yorker article, Patrick Radden Keefe reported on a unit of the London Metropolitan Police he termed “super-recognizers.” These police officers have the ability to see a face once and then recognize it again among millions of others, and they comb vast quantities of CCTV footage, […]

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Tonefoil Hat Finale

Get started with Tonefoil Hat here. I’m giving up. The last time I made any progress with David Lucas Burge’s Perfect Pitch Ear Training SuperCourse was June 12—almost a month ago. My ear training practice sessions now end after five minutes. I’ve started hurling insults at my microphone. Like the main character in Beckett’s play […]

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Heels of Fortune

Opera so often has an aftertaste of evil. The character of Osmin in Mozart’s “Entführung aus dem Serail” is an embarrassing Middle Eastern caricature absurdly obsessed with blood and gore. Wagner’s knights and gods like to address their female counterparts simply as “woman.” Blackface still makes regular appearances in contemporary stagings of Verdi’s “Otello.” In […]

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How Things Align

I met the composer Raven Chacon one afternoon in the library of the American Academy in Berlin, where he is currently a fellow. Normally based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chacon creates stereophonic, tactile music, as well as sound and visual installations. Over coffee, we talked about small town touring, the definition of composing, and negotiations […]

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Death and the Theater

On the evening of November 21, 2015, a scrum of protesters blocked the glass doors of the Teatr Polski in Wrocław, Poland. They were members of the Catholic organization Krucjata Różańcowa za Ojczyznę (Society of the Rosary) and far-right groups such as the All Polish Youth and the National Resurrection of Poland. Piotr Rybak, a […]

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Aesthetic Responsibility

Daniel Mendelsohn is a writer, translator, and professor of literature at Bard College. His most recent book is An Odyssey: A Father, A Son and an Epic which, along with the memoir The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity, are personal favorites of mine. He is also deeply attuned to classical music. I […]

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Munich 1997

Norman Lebrecht’s book Who Killed Classical Music was published in 1996, and contained an infamous anecdote about a conductor, named under a pseudonym, abusing children. The culprit was widely rumored to be James Levine. (In a recent groundbreaking investigation, Malcolm Gay and Kay Lazar of the Boston Globe confirmed a similar incident to the one […]

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Flying Blind

Musicians who feel that their instruments have been mishandled by airlines like to unleash avalanches of outrage on social media, followed by petitions and calls for boycotts. British Airways recently tested tempers when gate agents refused to take three of the Kronos Quartet’s instruments on board. The quartet responded with a pledge to boycott the […]