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Healthy Confusion

Alex Ross’s Wagernism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music was released in September to wide acclaim. In VAN, Alison Kinney described the book’s complex, nuanced approach to art and morality: “Ross recognizes, and reshapes, the world of Wagnerism as it is, for good and for bad, and makes room for the inadequacy of […]

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Cultural Gumbo

Titus Underwood is the principal oboist of the Nashville Symphony in Tennessee. In February, he became the first Black tenured principal oboist of an American orchestra. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Underwood attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Juilliard School, and the Colburn School, studying with legendary oboists John Mack and Elaine Douvas. This year, […]

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Across And Over

For 42 years, Daniela Huber has been a violinist in the Bavarian State Orchestra. She also plays chamber music, composes, arranges, appears in cabaret performances as part of a string quartet, and founded a jazz band in which she plays mainly piano. Outside the concert hall, too, Huber rarely remains silent. In 2014, a group […]

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Fighting Windmills

The doors of the Berlin Philharmonic closed to the public on March 11, 2020. They won’t open again this season, making the coronavirus closure the Berlin Philharmonic’s longest break in its 138-year history. Instead of the musicians, it’s the construction workers who now have the run of the house, with improvements taking place on the […]

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Make Up The Notes

The first thing one sees in Gwendolyn Toth’s apartment on the west side of Manhattan, above Lincoln Center, is the keyboards: Three of them wrapped up and standing on their ends inside the front door. In the living room, there are several more, some ready to travel, some available to play—seven in all, including a […]

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Visceral Communication

An Interview with Philip Thomas By · Title Image © Carl Davies · Date 2/4/2020 There’s a very long pause, then a single plucked string bends up. Pause again, followed by a long screech from the highest flute register. Another pause. Something rattles. So begins my very own realization of John Cage’s “Concert for Piano […]

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The Cloudily Divine

An Interview with Alan Hollinghurst By · Illustration © · Date 10/31/2019 The English writer Alan Hollinghurst is one of the great chroniclers of musical experience and anal sex. His characters don’t simply hear music; they live with, through, inside it. I met Hollinghurst one bright afternoon at his home in Hampstead. VAN: There are […]

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Artistic Personas

An Interview with Jasper Parrott By · Photos © Kaupo Kikkas · Date 10/24/2019 HarrisonParrott, the renowned artist management company, represents some 200 classical musicians in all categories, looked after by 72 people on staff. That makes the London-based agency a giant in a small but competitive field. On October 6, HarrisonParrott celebrated its 50th […]

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Sonic Cultures

The Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös has lived in Germany, France, and Holland, and worked closely with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. In 2004, he returned home to Budapest. His primary motivation was the theater. Going to plays abroad, he told me, “you understand the words, but not always what’s behind them. My wife and I […]

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Sophie’s Choice

An Interview with Opera Casting Director Sophie Joyce Text · Title Image © Foto PR · Date 12.6.2019 On May 14, I sat in on an hour’s worth of auditions for the early rounds of the 2019 Neue Stimmen (New Voices) opera competition. Visibly nervous singers entered a cavernous rehearsal space, weary pianist in tow. […]