Posted inPlaylist

A “Ulysses” Playlist

James Joyce’s 1922 novel Ulysses has hummed with sound for one hundred years. “Mrkgnao!” goes Leopold Bloom’s cat while he makes breakfast; “Pprrpffrrppffff” goes his posterior after dinner later. We hear the chattering of the telegraph in the “Aeolus’” episode, the clattering of cutlery and clinking of glasses as Bloom eats and drinks his way […]

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 Edita Gruberová Playlist

The death of a classical musician is a moment of loss, but it’s also a moment of rediscovery. Especially when the musician in question is someone like Slovak soprano Edita Gruberová, whose death in Zürich this past Monday, October 18, was an opportunity for fans and houses alike to pay tribute to some of her […]

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.  […]