Arts

Arts and culture

On May 17th, the famous auction house Christie's will sell more than 150 items for pianist Van Cliburn. Now 77 years old, the Cold War-era classical music megastar and competition founder has long been a collector of fine English furniture, Russian art, silver and jewelry — and Christie's expects this New York sale to bring in more than $3 million.

My father, world-renowned virtuoso violinist and teacher Roman Totenberg, whose professional career spanned nine decades and four continents, died early Tuesday morning at the age of 101.

Van Dyke Parks On Mountain Stage

May 8, 2012

Born into a well-to-do Danish family in 1840, Christian Frederik Emil Horneman showed musical talent at an early age, then went on to study in Leipzig and later spent most of his life as a teacher. But he would also compose a limited amount of music, which one wishes had been greater in quantity judging from the fine orchestral works on this new release.

When it comes to reliable lightning rods in classical music, it's hard to top Richard Wagner. The latest controversies center on the Metropolitan Opera's current staging of the composer's gargantuan Ring cycle, the set of four epic and mythical operas first mounted at Bayreuth in 1876, and now seen live at the Met together in a series.

Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert.

When Edward Elgar unveiled his first symphony in 1908, it was hailed as the greatest British symphony ever written. The London papers were ecstatic.

Danielle De Niese In Concert

May 3, 2012

At first blush, you might not think operas and nightclubs would be a natural pairing. But an evening at New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge with Danielle de Niese — the 33-year-old star soprano who calls herself a "diva for the digital age" — proved a blend of uptown music and downtown grit could be just right.

The Lebanese classical musician and composer Marcel Khalife is often compared to Bob Dylan — not for his music, but for his politics. The Middle Eastern musical and political icon sings about freedom and nationalism.

Khalife is famous for translating poetry into music. For years, he collaborated with the nationalist Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

"It began when I graduated from the music conservatory in Beirut. The civil war started in Lebanon — I wanted to change the world with music," says Khalife.

There's a new superstar pianist on the horizon: Behzod Abduraimov. Haven't heard of him yet? That's not surprising — at just 21, this native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan has kept a very low profile so far. He's spent the past five years in the U.S., but not at a big-name school like the Curtis Institute (like Lang Lang or Yuja Wang, for example) or at Juilliard, where he was accepted as a student. Instead, he went to study with Stanislav Ioudenitch Park University in Salt Lake City Parkville, Missouri, where he's still enrolled.

Philip Glass, 'Icon' Of The Avant-Garde

May 1, 2012

As a general rule, if it's in The Fader, it's new. There's a good chance that you've never heard of many of the musicians who fill the magazine, which is based in New York and flaunts that city's bustling diversity and also its celebration of the cutting edge. But part of that celebration, every year, is the magazine's Icon issue, which takes a step back from the relentless forward motion to anoint an influential, already-celebrated figure.

Poetry month is almost at an end,

So here's a little challenge for you, friend.

Listen close to the music clips below,

The words will tell you what you need to know.

Match music with the image of each bard,

Good luck — you'll need it 'cause the quiz is hard.

A hint that may help you along the way,

Both words and music hail from U.S.A.

An extra point if you think you know 'em ...

Identify the name of each poem.

  • After falling off the podium last night in the middle of a performance with the Orchestre National de France, 84-year-old Kurt Masur has been hospitalized in Paris. A spokesperson for the orchestra says that he is expected to be released "very soon," adding that "he fell upside down onto his back because his left foot was too near the edge of the podium. It's not linked to health problems.

Carnegie Hall Live: Pavel Haas Quartet

Apr 27, 2012

PROGRAM

  • Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 1
  • Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp minor, Op. 108
  • Smetana: String Quartet No. 1 in E minor, "From My Life"

If you haven't yet heard the Pavel Haas Quartet, buckle your seat belt. This smart, incisive group from Prague with an ultra-warm sound and a sure sense of rhythmic play has been collecting accolades by the fistful ever since they burst onto the international scene six years ago.

Caption This Cartoon, Win A Prize

Apr 27, 2012

Write Your Own Caption To This Cartoon

Each week, our intrepid artist, Pablo Helguera, comes up with a classical cartoon and an appropriate, if sometimes irreverent, caption.

Now it's your turn. We'd like you to compose a clever caption for this week's cartoon. The best entry will win (insert drum roll here!) a brand new NPR Music tote bag and coffee mug.

Yawen Wu

Sunday, April 29th, at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, the Rockford Symphony Youth Orchestra takes on perhaps the biggest challenge in its 47–year history.

A meditation on quietude amidst unceasing movement, a thick-walled cell of solitary contentment in the churn of daily life: That's the premise of this new video featuring the gifted pianist Michael Mizrahi.

Nashville Symphony Goes Electric, Eclectic

Apr 26, 2012

PROGRAM

  • Ives: Universe Symphony (real. Austin)
  • Riley: The Palmian Chord Ryddle
  • Grainger: The Warriors

PROGRAM

  • SHOSTAKOVICH Anti-Formalist Rayok
  • SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 11 in G Minor, Op. 103, "The Year 1905"
  • Encore: LIADOV Baba Yaga

Talk Like An Opera Geek attempts to decode the intriguing and intimidating lexicon of the opera house.

Although a few radical composers had no use for opera in the mid-20th century (like Pierre Boulez, who infamously advocated blowing up the world's opera houses), the art form in Europe brushed itself off and began to thrive again after World War II.

Pity the poor percussionist in Mozart's day. He didn't have much to do in the orchestra, save for the occasional punctuating roll of the kettledrum (usually supporting a burst of brass) or the rare ping of a triangle.

Joshua Bell, the violin prodigy who grew into what some call a classical-music rock star, has taken the helm of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Bell is the orchestra's first music director since Sir Neville Marriner, who created the group.

On his first tour with the group as both music director and conductor, Bell plays the violin while conducting the orchestra simultaneously, gesturing with his bow. And he leads from the concert master's chair, rather than the podium, which seems unusual to some audiences.

Eulogy For A Record Store

Apr 23, 2012

How do you measure the value of an experience — one that promises the thrill of new discoveries; the chance to experience, at least vicariously, foreign cultures, new ideas, unexpected emotions — and, at least for a moment, escape? What's that worth?

Probably more than words can express — whatever experience those questions might conjure for you. For me, they're prompted by the loss of an experience — of going to a record store.

Melody Records, on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., closed on March 9,2012, after 35 years in business.

It's time to say goodbye: After more than 40 years, the members of Tokyo String Quartet have decided they will disband at the end of the 2012-13 season.

  • Twenty-one American performing artists, including composer/singer/choreographer/force of nature Meredith Monk and clarinetist/composer Don Byron, have been named as part of the first class of

This week, music is bringing Americans and Russians together in a way that policy discussions never can. And don't call that a cliche in front of the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

If U.S. relations with Russia have hit a sticky patch over Syria and other issues lately, that didn't stop the Chicago Symphony from thrilling a Russian audience this past Wednesday night, just as it did on its last visit — to the then-Soviet Union in 1990.

Together, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk make for one of the most dynamic duos in the classical music world. The two have been recording and performing together in the classical repertoire for almost a decade, and have become equally at home thumbing through the pages of the Great American Songbook.

Talk Like An Opera Geek attempts to decode the intriguing and intimidating lexicon of the opera house.

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