What's Muti Got that Other Conductors Don't?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Editor's Note: On Tuesday Riccardo Muti won Spain's Asturias Arts Award.

Earlier this month, I heard two of the Chicago Symphony programs that Riccardo Muti conducted in Carnegie Hall – the concert performance of Verdi’s opera Otello, and the concert that included Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Both were extraordinary examples of music-making, which left me wondering: Why is this conductor different from all other conductors? I put that question to a former cellist from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, who happened to be sitting next to me at the first concert. His answer was, “Only one thousand and two hundred different ways, but it’s impossible to put into words.”

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The Economy on ICE

Friday, April 29, 2011

Last week, the International Contemporary Ensemble was slated to perform at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. But then the cash-strapped theater canceled the remainder of its season. The program was instead released as a videocast, available here.

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Take Your Money and Run

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Naomi Lewin remembers being asked to sing "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar at a wedding.

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When the Wedding March Goes Off Course

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jeff Spurgeon remembers a scandalous moment involving wedding music. Perhaps you’ve attended a wedding where the music choices came with a twist, or didn’t quite work out as planned. We'd like to hear about them.

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Are Contemporary Composers Just Spinning Their Musical Wheels?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the WQXR blog, Midge Woolsey ponders why it's important to keep creating new classical works: "After all, there’s a lot of old music out there so why not work on making good with that and forget about creating anything new?"

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Two Passover Macaroons

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just in time for Passover, Naomi Lewin shares two of her favorite holiday recipes, both featuring the scrumptious macaroon.

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Stars Learn to Sing for Roles... Or Do They?

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the WQXR blog, Midge Woolsey observes: "These days, all sorts of performers are willing to go out on a limb and give singing a try – some to good effect, and others not."

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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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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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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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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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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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