Wozzeck: Who Knew?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Who knew that Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck would be, hands down, the best all-around performance this year at the Met? (Fred Plotkin, maybe – he posted about it earlier this week on our blog WQX-Aria.)  But I was totally unprepared to be blown away – by the singing, acting, staging, orchestral colors… the total package. The evening began with cheers for James Levine’s appearance in the pit at the beginning of the opera, and ended with a standing ovation. A real one.

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Sorry or Grateful: Should Orchestras Play Show Tunes?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

On the WQXR blog, Naomi Lewin is pleased with the trend of orchestras like the New York Philharmonic playing show tunes. "Some may call it crossover, but I call it great musicians giving a performance of great American music," she writes.

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Review: The Enraged Accompanist's Guide to the Perfect Audition

Sunday, April 03, 2011

In his new book, a seasoned Broadway composer and accompanist offers candid and often helpful advice that goes beyond often clichéd guidebooks on mastering the auditioning process.

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Two Broadway Shows: Which One is More Offensive?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This last Wednesday I attended The Book Of Mormon, the new Broadway musical from the team who created South Park. Then on Thursday I saw the current revival of the classic musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying staring Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. Just for fun I’d like to compare the two and make the case that How To Succeed is the more offensive of the two.

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A Coffee with Your Favorite Composer

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I had a really interesting time talking with Jake Heggie recently in The Greene Space here at WQXR. Jake is the composer who first hit the scene in a big way with the San Francisco premiere of his opera Dead Man Walking which he wrote with the playwright Terrence McNally. That was over ten years ago. Since then, the opera has played all over the world. He has written several other operas including Moby Dick, which premiered last year at the Dallas Opera with Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab.

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Rescued from Obscurity, Part Deux

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Gioachino Rossini’s opera Le Comte Ory. Hard to believe that it premiered in 1828, and this is the first time it’s being done at the Met.  Granted, there’s almost no plot, and what there is seems hopelessly politically incorrect. But then so are lots of opera plots, so how much does it matter when there's such delightful music involved?

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The Music that Accompanied Elizabeth Taylor

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The list of Elizabeth Taylor's films includes daring, challenging stories, and they were scored with exceptional music. Here are a few of host David Garland's favorites.

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Rescued from Obscurity

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Naomi Lewin Theory of Obscure Music says that obscure music is usually obscure for a good reason. But every once in a while, a piece comes along that disproves the theory. What piece do you think is neglected?

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Comments [34]

Why It Was Time for James Levine to Step Down

Thursday, March 03, 2011

When I heard that James Levine was resigning as music director of the Boston Symphony, I felt what many people probably did: relief that he might now be able to recuperate fully from the hard few years he’s had, medically.

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Comments [19]

Why Public Broadcasting Matters

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Those of us who love and value classical music are in the minority," writes Midge Woolsey. "We'll always be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to protecting our interests." But it's a battle worth fighting.

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Comments [61]

Frederica von Stade's Farewell to the Opera Stage

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It is impossible to believe that Frederica von Stade has truly left the opera stage after a 40-year career. Can it be possible that I first saw my then-new friend, Flicka in 1971 at the Metropolitan Opera? She was playing Violetta’s friend, Flora Bervoix in La Traviata. I saw her again a few days ago at the Houston Grand Opera, where she sang the role of the heartbroken mother of a condemned man in Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s searing and achingly painful opera, Dead Man Walking.

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Aging Singers

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Naomi Lewin observes: "Through a combination of good genes and career choices, some singers, like Placido Domingo, are the Energizer Bunnies of their profession; others crash and burn far too young."

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Comments [18]

How Has Classical Music Added Romance to Your Life?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last year, in celebration of Valentine's Day, we asked prominent musicians how classical music added romance to their lives.

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Comments [187]

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are playing classical music from a Saturday Morning Cartoon today at 9:00 am. The music is Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. It has been used most memorably in Rhapsody Rabbit, a Bug's Bunny Warner Brother's cartoon from 1946:
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Comments [31]

The Romantic Sound of Broadway's Golden Age

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hey, musical theater fans! I know, I know -- WQXR is a classical music station. But this morning I had the sound of Broadway on my mind, and I came into the office singing a song from a classic piece of American musical theater: Brigadoon, the 1947 Lerner and Lowe show about the enchanted Scottish village that appears every hundred years for only one day.

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Bach, Brahms and Brad

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Brad Mehldau, that is. The music of the jazz pianist/Carnegie Hall-commissioned composer entered my ipod world through his interpretation of Radiohead’s Exit Music. I was immediately struck by how lyrical and intricate his sound was and have been a fan ever since. When I heard Mehldau was presenting a solo piano recital on January 26 at Zankel hall of his own works, interspersed with repertoire by Bach, Brahms, Faure and pop and jazz transcriptions, I wondered, what was he going to do with “those” guys?

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Aguilera's 'Star-Mangled Banner'

Monday, February 07, 2011

Naomi Lewin writes: "With all the hoo-ha over Christina Aguilera's reinvented lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl, I have to say that I have some sympathy for her. I can relate."

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Comments [51]

Classical Super Bowl Commercials

Friday, February 04, 2011

In advance of this weekend's game, we’ve identified some current and previous Super Bowl ads that prominently feature symphonic music. Have a look and tell us why classical music is often used to sell everything from cars to soda.

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Comments [20]

We're Listening

Friday, February 04, 2011

In this special show, Q2 explores the work of the composer Milton Babbitt, who passed away on Jan. 29 at age 94. Included are many longtime Babbitt colleagues, students and fellow composers whose lives he's touched.

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On 90th Birthday, Egyptian-American Composer Expresses Concerns for Homeland

Thursday, February 03, 2011

As the world watches the events unfolding in Egypt, among those paying close attention is Halim El-Dabh, the Egyptian-American composer, performer and ethnomusicologist. WQXR's Nimet Habachy spoke with him.

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