Tag: Classical Music

Would Mozart Have Performed for You on Zoom?

In the 1980s I was the 30-something manager of the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, arguably the greatest concert pianist in history. Mr. Horowitz was bored by practicing, but lived for his public performances, when the various demons with which he was plagued permitted him to leave the confines of his Upper East Side townhouse. Mr. […]

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Hellmut Stern, 91, Dies; Violinist Returned to Germany After Fleeing

Hellmut Stern, who fled Germany with his family as a child to escape the Nazis, then returned years later to join the Berlin Philharmonic as a violinist and later became a leading member of the orchestra, died on March 21 at his home in Berlin. He was 91. The Philharmonic announced the death. Mr. Stern […]

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The Coronavirus Hasn’t Slowed Classical Music

A classical music critic in New York City could conceivably never spend an evening at home. Carnegie Hall presents the world’s leading artists virtually every night during its season; Lincoln Center’s theaters are almost never dark. Then there are the dozens of smaller venues scattered throughout town. Planning a concert-going calendar, then, has always been […]

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Krzysztof Penderecki, Polish Composer With Cinematic Flair, Dies at 86

Krzysztof Penderecki, a Polish composer and conductor whose modernist works jumped from the concert hall to popular culture, turning up in soundtracks for films like “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” and influencing a generation of edgy rock musicians, died on Sunday at his home in Krakow. He was 86. His death was confirmed by Andrzej […]

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Great Theater, Dance and Classical Music to Tune Into While Stuck at Home

Updated on March 24 If you’re stuck at home and hankering for the fine arts, there’s plenty online. Since the coronavirus pandemic began temporarily shutting down performing arts venues and museums around the world, cultural organizations have been finding ways to share their work digitally. Performances are being live-streamed, archival material is being resurfaced and […]

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For This Pianist, Every Album Is an Essay

LOS ANGELES — The pianist Vikingur Olafsson’s recording career could be described as a constant refusal to be pinned down. His debut on the Deutsche Grammophon label, in 2017, featured Philip Glass’s études, and he was encouraged to follow it with more Minimalism. But Mr. Olafsson insisted on something else entirely: a winding album of […]

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Before Bach, He Was Germany’s Greatest Composer

The professor who taught a course I took on Baroque music in graduate school certainly fit the stereotype of a stuffy old musicologist, with his baggy suits and befuddled manner, yet strict adherence to scholarship. But I’ll be forever grateful to him, because he essentially introduced me to the music of Heinrich Schütz. I knew […]

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In a Pandemic, Musicians Play in Empty Halls for Audiences Online

I was watching on my computer at home on Thursday afternoon as the Berlin Philharmonic finished a streamed performance of Luciano Berio’s “Sinfonia.” The cameras panned over rows of seats. No one was there. The musicians, dressed in their black-tie best, seemed not to know quite what to do. Finally, they began greeting each other […]

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New York’s Major Cultural Institutions Close in Response to Coronavirus

Several of New York’s largest and most prestigious cultural institutions — including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic — announced Thursday that they would temporarily shut down in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The closures — which came after other cities in […]

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Anton Coppola, Opera Conductor in Filmmaking Clan, Dies at 102

Anton Coppola, who appeared in the children’s chorus for the 1926 American premiere of Puccini’s uncompleted “Turandot,” conducted his own ending to the work some nine decades later, and in between had one of the longest careers as a maestro in modern times, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 102. His […]

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When the Show Must Go On, Even Amid a Coronavirus Outbreak

Venice’s ornate opera house, La Fenice, has survived floods and been rebuilt after devastating fires. So it was determined to keep going after the coronavirus forced it to cancel its performances: This week a string quartet gathered in the empty, eerily silent theater and played Beethoven, streaming the concert online and winning an ovation of […]

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Two Pianists Test the Meaning of Virtuosity

What constitutes virtuosity? It’s a commonplace, yet problematic, word in classical music. It generally refers to a performer’s technical prowess, the ability to dazzle with a sheer display of technique. But what’s the threshold for virtuosity, and how do you even isolate it from depth and insight? Two studies were recently on offer in New […]

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Review: A New ‘Flying Dutchman’ Makes Landfall at the Met Opera

A stranger comes to town. That story line, so full of possibilities, has threaded through fictional works of all kinds for centuries. In Wagner’s opera “Der Fliegende Holländer” (“The Flying Dutchman”), the stranger is a haunted ship captain, condemned to sail the seas forever, with just one opportunity every seven years to land somewhere and […]

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When Classical Composers Did the Fox Trot

Near the end of his 1933 novel “Romance in Marseille,” newly and belatedly published for the first time by Penguin Classics, the Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay moves toward an operatic climax by steering several characters into a bar. While his cast is diverse — “girls and men, white and brown and black, mingled colors […]

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Review: Beethoven’s Biggest Concert, Now With Heat

CINCINNATI — If you’re a fan of classical music, chances are you’ve fantasized about what you would do with a time machine. You could visit Paris in 1913, to see just how riotous, if at all, the audience was at the premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Or Munich, where the stubbornly unresolved chord […]

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This Is How to Do a Beethoven Symphony Cycle

Carnegie Hall’s last full presentation of Beethoven’s symphonies — Simon Rattle leading the Berlin Philharmonic five years ago — made a case for why this stale cycle should be retired. David Allen, who reviewed the concerts for The New York Times, wrote that climbing this musical mountain again just “because it’s there,” as George Mallory […]

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From Bonn to Vienna, in Search of Beethoven, the Man

Even the most casual visitor to Vienna can’t help but be bombarded by the city’s Mozart-industrial complex. Mozart’s face peers out from the wrappers of ubiquitous chocolate-covered candies called Mozart Kugeln, grand cafes offer Mozart tortes, and souvenir shops sell Mozart key chains, stuffed Mozarts, and even Mozart rubber duckies. Hawkers outside major sights aren’t […]

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Reinbert de Leeuw, Dutch Champion of Contemporary Music, Dies at 81

Reinbert de Leeuw, a Dutch conductor, pianist and composer who advocated — sometimes raucously — for contemporary music in his homeland, enjoyed productive associations with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Sydney Symphony and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and had a memorable stint at the Tanglewood Festival, died on Feb. 14 at his […]

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A Quartet Sets a New Standard for Beethoven Marathons

Almost 15 years ago, the men of the Danish String Quartet — they were in their 20s, at the time, and still called themselves the “Young” Danish — said in an interview that they would need to become more mature before daring to play Beethoven’s late string quartets in public. It didn’t take that long […]

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