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Cartographies of Meaning

At the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky posed the question: “What is more opposite to music?” and answered, “The silence of ruined cities and killed people.” Dressed in his now-iconic khaki t-shirt, Zelensky evoked in a short video the silence which Ukrainians are facing in their own land, and exhorted musicians […]

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Consumed in the Culture

Orchestral musicians have unusually challenging jobs. Many musicians have had to move to a new city for their careers and work odd hours that separate them from the support of family and friends. There are exacting physical demands, and training for their livelihoods starts at a very young age. Auditioning for a job is highly […]

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Cultural Distinction

As global condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine grows, cultural institutions across Europe and the United States face an uncomfortable conundrum: What to do about Russian artists, particularly those who have vocally supported Putin’s government? What to do about Russian art in general? It’s laudable and necessary for opera houses, orchestras, and festivals to […]

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The Treachery of Images

Update Shortly after this article was published, the Metropolitan Opera announced that, after “not complying with the Met’s condition that she repudiate her public support for Vladimir Putin while he wages war on Ukraine, soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from her upcoming Met performances in Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ this April and May, as well as the […]

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Taking Gergiev at His Word

Last week, Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, sent an open letter to Valery Gergiev, the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. Reiter told Gergiev he had until February 28 to distance himself from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If Gergiev declined, his contract with the orchestra would be terminated. Some commentators, on social media […]

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Off Key

The confused responses were rolling in. It was later in the morning than I’d like to admit when I woke up and pawed my phone off my nightstand, and it took a few minutes of baffled blinking at my notifications before I realized that my satirical riff on every classical music profile, “Meet the Pianist […]

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Fiddling While California Burns

After these long lockdowns, what a pleasure to finally attend concerts and new musical seasons. For instance, in 2020, the MusikFest Berlin was online-only; this fall, it featured live performances by nine of the best international music ensembles and orchestras in addition to prestigious orchestras and ensembles from Germany, with a varied and daring program, […]

Posted inOpinion

A Piano Down a Mine

Is classical music funny? The Witty Ditty Industry, made up of (mostly) white men in their 30s, would probably reply singing “Of course not!” Their retort would be snappily harmonized, with enough panache to make whoever questioned their authority look a bit silly; but not quite enough commitment to suggest this retort is entirely ironic. […]

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The Offensively Inoffensive

At a tandoori restaurant in Tel Aviv, an Israeli politician chastises a quixotic Norwegian diplomat: “When people talk to you, Terje, you should pay attention to what they actually say, and not just listen for what you want to hear.”  The scene is from “Oslo,” which began as a 2016 play and last weekend resurfaced […]

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