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Remembering Linda Shaver-Gleason By · Date 1/20/2020 On Christmas Day, 2019, Dr. Linda Shaver-Gleason offered the internet an important gift, as she had with reliable regularity for the past handful of years. “My present for you is to be uncomfortable for some time; just enough to make you see and question your situation,” she wrote […]

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Fragility

Remembering Mariss Jansons By · Title Image © Peter Meisel · Date 12/5/2019 “So, tell me Gustavo! How is the orchestra? And how is the Schumann? Do they like to work? And how is the discipline? And then, tell me, I want to know…” This was the way our conversation started, the last time I […]

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What You Have Seen

Art and Absolution at Bayreuth Text & Title Image · Date 8/8/2019 The sepia photograph, taken over a century ago, shows Ottilie Metzer-Lattermann in a brimmed hat and pale summer dress, standing on a garden path in northern Bavaria. Today, that same garden is blooming with marigolds, geraniums, and bird of paradise flowers. The path […]

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Friction

Illustrations © Gregg Miner (Fair Use) Recognition is a basic neural pleasure. The first five notes of “Parsifal” are thrilling if we expect the sixth, an agonized A-flat. Something similar is at work with names like Bejun Mehta, Ken-David Masur, Kristjan Järvi, Michael Barenboim. On albums and concert posters, the names sound like transcendent concerts. […]

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Imaginary Places

The Ambient Influence on Contemporary Music By · Title Image chrstphre (CC BY 2.0) · Date 7/18/2019 If music is about sounds coordinated in time, moving from the present moment to the future until there is nothing left, then perhaps ambient music is the archetypal music. At stake are not notes or rhythms, but time […]

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Origin Myths

Illustrations Olivia Giovetti Nearly a century ago, when my ancestors landed in the United States as a family of Syrian refugees, my great-grandmother Nabiha’s name was changed to a more Americanized “Mona.” The story was always relayed in my family with matter-of-fact pragmatism, though no one caught the irony that the new name has its […]

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Political Rites

The Passion  of Pablo Casals By · Illustrations · Date 4/4/2019 For the past 80 years, I have started each day in the same manner,” Pablo Casals told his biographer when he was 93. “It is a sort of benediction to the house. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues […]

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Adams 2.0

The Musical Decline of John Adams By · Title Image Backstage at “Nixon in China” by Emme Rogers (CC BY-NC 2.0) · Date 9/20/2018 Thanks to John Adams, I am no longer a snob. When I was studying composition in graduate school, I was possessed by a young man’s certainty about his own knowledge and […]

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The Death and Life of Spectral Music

Illustrations Carine Kuntz Something is killing spectral composers. Gérard Grisey, the pioneer of the genre, died of a stroke at age 52, immediately following the completion of his funereal work “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil.” Claude Vivier, the Quebecois Jonathan van Ness of new music, was murdered at 34 by a man he picked […]