Posted inOpinion

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 […]

Posted inEssay

A Cold War

When he was 16, Wolf Biermann emigrated from his hometown of Hamburg to the German Democratic Republic. The year was 1952 and the young man, whose father was a staunch Communist and killed in Auschwitz, was welcomed in the East. Less than 25 years later, Biermann, now a rock star—his apartment, dubbed “the waiting room […]

Posted inInterview

The Berliozians

Behind the fabulous website hberlioz.com, turning 20 this year, is not a team of French musicologists, but rather a pair of retired academics in Edinburgh, Scotland. Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin live in a quite street which traces its origins back to the 18th century. In the living room, above two large computers, hangs a […]

Posted inReport

In Ink

On November 29th, the auction house Sotheby’s will be offering the complete manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony (the “Resurrection”) at auction from their London saleroom. Sotheby’s predict it will sell in excess of £3.5 million, the highest ever estimation for a musical manuscript offered at auction. Late in August, I met Simon Maguire, Sotheby’s […]

Posted inReview

Heartbeat Opera

Heartbeat Opera’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” By · Photography Russ Rowland · Date 03/31/2016 The issue with having a transformative experience in the arts is that it opens the door to a lifetime of disappointments. I fell completely for opera when I saw Natalie Dessay in Mary Zimmerman’s production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the […]

Posted inHistory

Free But Alone

No one composer, perhaps in the history of Western classical music, was more active in averting history’s prying eyes than Johannes Brahms. Brutally self-critical about his own work and exceptionally shy when it came to his personal life, Brahms sought to preserve his legacy by keeping his private thoughts out of the grips of unforgiving […]

Posted inEssay

Strange Dissonance

Goethe’s “Erlkönig” is one of the most horrifying poems in all of world literature. At its center is an unspeakable tragedy, the death of a child. Also shocking is the language of the poem: it omits any description of the boy’s suffering. The very objectivity of Goethe’s language is chilling. In Schubert’s setting of “Erlkönig,” […]