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Adams 2.0

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 taste. Still, I was exposed to enough contradictory opinions and ideas that I began to— fortunately—entertain doubts. What if I didn’t know everything? One […]

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The Mystic Void

The term Wagnerian never applied to me, though Bayreuth holds a special place in the family lore. In the 1950s, a rare honor was bestowed upon my grandfather: along with the other chosen ones, he was permitted to play his violin in the theater’s “mystic void.” (Also known as the pit.) When I went to […]

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Shush Money

In December, James Levine was fired from his emeritus music directorship at the Metropolitan Opera, after five men stepped forward to credibly accuse him of sexual assault when they were teenagers and young adults, over a period ranging from the 1970s to the 1990s. Some might have expected him to recede into the background. Instead, […]

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Music of the Middle Degree

One night this spring, a composition by Jörg Widmann made me cringe. Mitsuko Uchida was playing a program of Schoenberg, Schubert, and the 44-year-old German composer at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin. His piece, “Sonata facile” (2016), quoted the Mozart original extensively, interrupting it at times with modified dissonant bass lines, interjections of clusters […]

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The Maestro Will See You Now

“The situation is rather complicated because Maestro himself is not yet in Wrocław…” read the email. The wheels had just come off an interview we’d already spent 10 Polskibus hours (equivalent to around 100 earth-hours) traveling to. “Maestro,” first name Krzysztof, last name Penderecki, written as if there was and could only ever be one. […]

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Patchwork History

By Andreas Staier · Date 04/20/2017 Andreas Staier was born in 1955 in Göttingen, Germany. He was the harpsichordist for Musica Antiqua Köln for three years and has performed as a Hammerklavier and harpsichord soloist with all the major early music ensembles. In this article, he responds to the controversial VAN interview with Mahan Esfahani […]

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Surveying the Orchestra

Why is the Repertoire So Narrow? By · Date 04/20/2017 Das 10. Kölner Fest für Alte Musik begibt sich unter dem Motto Early Music: Reload auf die Suche nach ungewöhnlichen Konzertformaten und öffnet sich neuen Impulsen. Dazu verwandelt sich das vom zamus veranstaltete Festival in ein Labor des Komponierens, Experimentierens, Improvisierens und Diskutierens über alle […]

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Breaking Binaries

Classical music has a gender problem. The numbers are consistent and dismal: as various orchestras have announced their 2017–18 seasons, numerous outlets have tallied how many male and female composers are represented, and so far none seem to be doing better than the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where male composers still take up 88 percent of […]

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Maestro Monopolies

Why Do Orchestras Share Conductors? By · Illustrations VAN Team · Date 03/09/2016 “Worthy gentleman, and my loving countrymen,” wrote the English lutist and composer John Dowland in the introduction to his 1612 song cycle “A Pilgrims Solace,” “I have been long obscured from your sight, because I received a Kingly entertainment in a foreign […]