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{ Category Archives } Classical Music

Music by guys (mostly) who are long dead

Clearing the Air about John Williams’ Simple Gift (part 2)

Picking up from part 1, which is mostly an analysis of “Air and Simple Gifts,” the composition John Williams wrote for Obama’s inauguration (it was all a single post until I saw how long it’d turned out)… The negative reactions that I’ve come across tend to work the premise that we should have gotten a […]

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Clearing the Air about John Williams’ Simple Gift (part 1)

I was looking forward as much as any average Bush-loathing voter to the Change that finally became official week before last, but I wasn’t going to let myself get glued to the TV for the inauguration. And then it snowed, and schools were closed, and what could I do? I heard the first part in […]

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Gettin’ that canon off the pedestal

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit about the songwriting class I’d been teaching at Duke. I’m going to continue in the mode of self-debriefing, I guess you could call it, with some thoughts about how classical music fits into the general undergraduate curriculum. I’ve never had much sympathy with the point of […]

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HIPster’s guide to not winning friends and not influencing people

A couple of days ago I picked up a recording of Fidelio in the library. It’s conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt, a “historically informed performance” (HIP) specialist, meaning that his ideal is to calibrate the performance of a piece based on what is known about musical practices and instruments at the time it was written. When […]

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The Father of Us All

Never mind the overblown dust-up about Joshua Bell in the Metro station. The big classical music news of the moment is The Classic FM Hall of Fame 2007, this year’s list of the top 300 classical works. Thanks to the astonishing reach of’s Classical Music news feed, I’ve just become aware of a UPI […]

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Motion and Emotion

One of the more impressive classical music-focussed blogs that I follow is On An Overgrown Path. A recent entry about Byzantine mosaics and frescoes in the Chora Church in Istanbul has, in addition to some gorgeous pictures, a link to a video of oud player Rahim AlHaj on YouTube. At the end he says the […]

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Looking for scandal but finding something much better

This morning Alex Ross posted a short summary of the Hattogate scandal with links to some key sites that get to the heart of the matter. The one I found interesting enough to follow up is to Pristine Classical’s Hatto Hoax page. Andrew Rose, the engineer who runs the site, specializes in audio restoration—and it […]

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Die misunderstood composer!

This morning on NPR I heard Scott Simon and Marin Alsop talking about Mahler’s Fifth (you can listen too). Simon began by noting that Mahler was disappointed with the reception it got, and is supposed to have said that he wished he could have waited 50 years and then conducted the premier, when the piece […]

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The Ciompi Quartet with guest Branford Marsalis

Tonight, in the same hall Zorn played last night, it was the Ciompi Quartet with Branford Marsalis. I was looking forward to hearing my friend marc faris’s new composition Mountain Music which, as it turned out, is a beautifully restrained piece, distinctive, personal, and surprising. And yet, through no fault of the music or musicians, I was discontent. I was hoping for something grittier, and I end up thinking about other times I’ve heard Branford play or speak.

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