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Wieck Spot

For all her infamous name recognition, performances of Clara Wieck Schumann’s works are still puzzlingly rare. For decades I never questioned this; I bought the industry-wide indoctrination of “low quality.” But when I began to objectively look and listen, I realized Wieck’s compositions were filled with innovative tonal relationships, thematically unified structures, advanced motivic developments, […]

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The Dreams of Others

When you mention alto Dina König in front of her former colleagues, they insist on her musical excellence. That’s because, in September 2020, König gave up her burgeoning career as a singer of early music. Instead, she decided to become a tram driver with the local public transportation system in Basel, Switzerland.  Musicians often view […]

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Endorphin Rush

Looking back at Tamara Stefanovich’s September schedule, you see a multifaceted artist at work: She played Stravinsky twice with an all-star lineup at Musikfest Berlin, gave a duo recital with Pierre-Laurent Aimard in Amsterdam, and a solo recital in Regensburg, Germany, with a program of seldom-heard works by Scriabin, Roslavets, and Szymanowski. She also played […]

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Aural Histories

In his essay “The Paradoxical Theory of Change,” Gestalt psychiatrist Arnold Beisser wrote that “change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not.… It does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is.”  I quote this line a lot, but […]

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Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy

For female opera singers, singing a male role is nothing out of the ordinary. Stephanie Blythe, however, thrives in the out-of-the-ordinary. That’s not to discount the majority of her career: Blythe has sung the coloratura lines of Handel and Rossini with whip-smart technique and brought a rioja-hued boldness to more orotund roles like Fricka in […]

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Death as a Metaphor

Missy Mazzoli is sitting in one of Ingmar Bergman’s bedrooms when she joins our Zoom meeting earlier this summer. At the time, the 40-year-old composer was finishing a monthlong artist’s residency at the Bergman Estate at Fårö—an island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden where the director lived and filmed parts of […]

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Like the Volga Singing

Psychoanalysis and opera both have an uneven relationship to feminism, to put it mildly. The former, even when challenging the disorienting, traumatic quality of patriarchy, is a product of that same power. The practice’s roots lie in Jean-Martin Charcot’s Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, which turned the confinement of so-called “hysterical” women into a public spectacle. […]

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Meaning in the Parentheticals

Since winning the Pulitzer Prize for “Partita for 8 Voices” in 2013, Caroline Shaw has gone on to collaborate with musicians as wide-ranging as the Attacca Quartet and Kanye West. Her recent projects include “We Need to Talk” with Anne Carson and Opera Philadelphia and “Narrow Sea” with Dawn Upshaw, Gil Kalish, and Sō Percussion. […]

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An Object Beyond Music

In 2020, composer Sara Glojnarić won Berlin’s “Neue Szenen” competition, awarded the prize by a jury chaired by Chaya Czernowin. In 2018, her work “#popfem,” which artfully dismantles anti-feminist and racist propaganda, received Darmstadt’s Kranichstein Music Prize. “I’d never thought that my identity as a queer woman could have such a strong influence on my work […]