Posted inHistory

Bells

When you think of small towns in rural England, you envision medieval stone buildings, carefully manicured gardens, and tearooms with Thomas Hardy-esque quietude, serenity, even sleepiness. That is, until you hear the bells. In every church. Ringing every hour, on the hour. Every Sunday morning, I remember incessant calls to worship at the cathedral next […]

Posted inInterview

Occupy Handel

On May 12, 2016, the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend President Dilma Rousseff, of the left-of-center Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), and begin an impeachment trial against her. Rousseff—who spent three years in prison in the 1970s during the dictatorship—is now suspended from her duties for 180 days; Michel Temer, a 75-year-old politician, will succeed her […]

Posted inReview

Rhythm or Reason

It’s the question us politics writers have not stopped asking each other over the past year: when we talk about Donald Trump, even if it’s to point out something ridiculous about him, are we helping or hurting? The election cycle has proved the old adage that any publicity is good publicity, to the disbelief of […]

Posted inEssay

Unfinished

A few nights ago, I sat in Berlin’s Philharmonie listening to the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin under the direction of Kent Nagano. The program was practically a Greatest Hits of German romanticism and late-romanticism: Wagner’s “Tristan” prelude and “Liebestod”; the orchestral version of Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht”; Schubert’s Unfinished; Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs.” I thought about […]

Posted inReport

Repression and Reduction

On April 29, 2016, the jury of a youth literature competition organized by the human rights group Memorial arrived at Moscow’s Dom Kino along with a group of participating schoolchildren. In front of the building, they were attacked by nationalist hooligans hurling eggs and paint. Among those present was the acclaimed novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya, herself […]

Posted inPlaylist

Chains Are My Reward

While awaiting his execution by firing squad, the painter Cavaradossi sings, “I die in despair, and never before have I loved life so much!” It’s an aria of reverie, lament, and implicit protest against his captors. In this opera, Puccini’s “Tosca” (1900), power and evil aren’t abstractions: the chief of secret police has arrested and […]

Posted inEssay

Sala São Paulo

On a Friday evening last December, my wife and I arrived at one of São Paulo’s major train stations, the Estação da Luz, during rush hour. Several metropolitan lines connect with regional transit to the suburbs there, and it was thronged with tired commuters. We elbowed our way past them and through the station’s labyrinthine […]