Posted inPlaylist

A Beautiful Serialism Playlist

Like some others on the 300-million-headed-hydra of hysteria known as Twitter, I was mildly irked on April 26 when the Columbia University linguist and New York Times op-ed writer John McWhorter published an essay titled “Classical Music Doesn’t Have to be Ugly to be Good.” Citing two recent books, McWhorter argues, among other things, that […]

Posted inPlaylist

A May Day Playlist

Whether your Labor Day falls on May 1 or the first Monday in September, the core concept remains the same: honoring the workers who keep countries running. In this decade, we’re facing another cultural reexamination of work—one perhaps best summarized by a TikTok sound that has somehow been attributed to both “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Harrison Birtwistle Playlist

Harrison Birtwistle died on April 18 at the age of 87. He was regarded as one of the foremost composers of his generation, a member of the so-called Manchester School alongside Alexander Goehr and Peter Maxwell Davies. His music attracted adjectives like ”iconoclastic” and “uncompromising”; one famous anecdote recounts Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears walking […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Mechanical Instruments Playlist

The musical instruments of the concert stage are products of thousands of years of experimentation in sound; the often taken-for-granted results of a long process of tinkering. Keyboard instruments are just one example: From early string instruments to the harpsichord, the pianoforte, and the modern concert grand, the piano has been a long-term, collaborative project. […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Maria Ewing Playlist

Two months ago, almost to the day, actress Rebecca Hall saw her directorial debut, “Passing,” premiere on Netflix. It was a personal project for Hall, whose mother—the soprano Maria Ewing—had a family history that mirrored the plot of the 1929 novel on which Hall based her film. In fact, Hall learned more about that family […]

Posted inPlaylist

An Opera Transfiguration Playlist

Recently I wrote a book called Avidly Reads Opera about opera fandom and opera fans. I also wrote an accompanying playlist. The playlist was supposed to vivify the book’s arguments through a wide range of composers and performers; it contains so many references that its compilation took longer than the manuscript preparation had. When I […]

Posted inPlaylist

A “Divine Comedy” Playlist

One of the more morbid traditions of classical music is its focus on death anniversaries: 1991 was a big year for Mozart (particularly in the business of Requiems). The cancellation of so many #Beethoven250 concerts in 2020 was half–but only half–jokingly bright-sided by the fact that all of the programs could be resurrected for 2027.  […]