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A Metropolitan Opera Playlist

If you’d like to drive an ice-pick through your eye but are short on equipment, the New York Times comments section is often a good virtual substitute. Case in point: The 700-plus responses to the paper’s coverage of the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to focus future seasons on more new works and living composers, citing sold-out […]

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A “Winterreise” All-Stars Playlist

I came here as a stranger. Actually, no: I was very familiar with “Winterreise” before this latest exploration. But, after listening to 75 recordings of the work in quick succession, I’m beginning to question whether I really knew “Winterreise” before now.  While the winter solstice is behind us and days are now officially getting longer, […]

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A Dynamical Systems Playlist

A dynamical system is a system whose state evolves with time over a state space according to a fixed rule. A dynamical system is all about the evolution of something over time. To create a dynamical system we simply need to decide (1), what is the “something” that will evolve over time and (2), what is the rule […]

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A Dark Academia Playlist

I hadn’t heard of Dark Academia—a subculture born on Tumblr that soon migrated to Instagram and TikTok—until sometime last year when I suddenly started seeing posts about Donna Tartt’s The Secret History everywhere. One of my favorite books, I was surprised to see it now become the basis of memes, outfits of the day, playlists, […]

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An Iannis Xenakis Playlist

This year marks the centenary of Iannis Xenakis, the Romanian-born Greek-French composer who died in 2001. Architect, mathematician, communist, and composer of both instrumental and electronic works, his music plowed an idiosyncratic furrow in the history of the European avant-garde.  The centenary has happily meant retrospectives of his work. The most substantial was Révolutions Xenakis […]

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An Autumn Equinox Playlist

I’m not here to shit all over Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” but I do believe that the Venn Diagram between people who consider the composer’s “Autumn” to be the epitome of fall-inspired classical music and people whose image of autumn stops at Pumpkin Spice Lattes and rewatches of “Hocus Pocus” is a circle. On the eve […]

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A Theater of Music Playlist

You walk on stage, and it’s terrifying: senior-recital-gone-wrong, late-to-a-masterclass-with-Big-Name-Soloist, career-ending-farce-with-your-parents-in-the-audience terrifying. As always, it’s inexplicably hot on the boards (or too cold, or the lights are too bright) and you’re sure the audience can see the sweat glisten on your frustrated, unhappy face. You’re flubbing notes left and right, barreling through an old favorite, lilting […]

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A Richard Taruskin Playlist

Musicologist Richard Taruskin, who died on July 1 at the age of 77, once recalled a note he’d received from his colleague Susan McClary, saying that the two were “among the few comic writers in an otherwise grim and humorless discipline.”  At times, this could be “funny ha-ha.” After quoting a set of debatable claims […]