Posted inReport

The Audiencers

We seldom pay attention to ushers. In “The Natural History of the Theatre,” Theodor Adorno’s otherwise extravagant sociology of concert-going, the usher receives only a glancing mention: a missed opportunity for a writer who discerned the ideological contradictions and atavistic energies of music in a thousand minor details, from gales of applause to foyerside finger […]

Posted inInterview

Physical Movement

In a 2015 Bloomberg article about Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on tour, reporter Joel Stein introduced an “impeccably dressed, handsome, long-haired” man, referred to by members of the orchestra as “the international man of mystery” or “the most interesting man in the world.” He didn’t mean Dudamel. Stein was referring to Guido […]

Posted inRankings & Roundups

Every Schubert Song, Ranked

In her 2019 review-cum-retrospective of John Updike, writer Patricia Lockwood noted that her assignment felt “like a flamboyant completist stunt, like one of those Buzzfeed articles where someone ranks every episode of the original Care Bears cartoons.” I would like to situate this ranking of every Schubert song in the same hallowed pantheon as the […]

Posted inReview

We Got Drunk and Listened to Jonas Kaufmann’s Christmas Album

Considering the bleak happenings that have defined 2020, we can all be thankful for one grand unifying event that restored a little bit of our faith in humanity: Jonas Kaufmann released a Christmas album. Not just any Christmas album: a two-hour, 42-track deluxe set of everything from traditional Alpine tunes (“Es wird scho glei dumpa”) […]

Posted inHistory

The Pianist who Killed Stalin

In his 2017 film “The Death of Stalin,” Armando Iannucci links the titular event to a letter penned by pianist Maria Yudina: “Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, you have betrayed our nation and destroyed its people. I pray for your end and ask the Lord to forgive you. Tyrant.” In Iannucci’s history-as-farce, the dictator reads this note […]

Posted inPlaylist

A Timothy Leary Playlist

How to commemorate the centenary of acid guru Timothy Leary, born 100 years ago today in Springfield, Massachusetts? Many will dig into their psychedelic rock collection to spin something like Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealistic Pillow” (1967) or the Grateful Dead’s “Aoxomoxoa” (1969). More historically-minded psychonauts, however, will reach for their Mozart and Wagner records, paying tribute […]

Posted inReport

Sounds From Nowhere

On September 15, 2001, the flutist Klaus Holsten was in the German village of Klein Jasedow, a short drive from the coast of the Baltic Sea, when a truck accidentally unloaded the herbicide Brasan onto 5,000 lemon balm plants. The organic herbs were growing in a garden belonging to Holsten; his wife Beata Seemann, a […]

Posted inReport

Turning Over

Like elevators, page turners are only remarkable when things go awry. And go awry they do. Pianist Charles Owen recalled a 1998 recital in Scotland. The page turner, “a little old lady,” had forgotten her reading glasses. She exhorted Owen to “do a very big nod” to signal the turn backwards for the repeat of […]

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