John Schaefer


John Schaefer has hosted Soundcheck since the show’s inception in 2002. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The No. 1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986.

John has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). He was contributing editor for Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from “The Music of Cambodia” to recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley. 

In 2003, Schaefer was honored with the American Music Center's prestigious Letter of Distinction for his "substantial contributions to advancing the field of contemporary American music in the United States and abroad." In May 2006, New York magazine cited Schaefer as one of "the people whose ideas, power, and sheer will are changing New York" in its Influentials issue.  He began blogging for WNYC when accompanying the New York Philharmonic on its historic (and apparently very weird) trip to North Korea in 2008 and continues to blog at

He is a regular contributor to the World Science Festival and the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center; he has also written about horse racing (Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, Vintage NY 2006) and was a regular panelist on the BBC’s soccer-based program Sports World.  


John Schaefer appears in the following:

Beyond Words

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The idea of using the voice as an instrument rather than as the carrier of a text is a relatively recent development, at least in Western classical music.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Join John Schaefer on The Furthermore as he explores the old tradition among classical music composers of writing memorial pieces for colleagues who have passed on. 

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Chaconnes and Passacaglias

Saturday, February 03, 2018

In the Baroque era, the chaconne and its close relative the passacaglia were favorite musical forms — and they've both had a remarkable revival in contemporary music. 


Mostly Mozart, Sort Of…

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mozart was directly responsible for over 600 works, but since his death he's also been indirectly responsible for hundreds of pieces. Hear the composers who have been inspired by Mozart.


Memories in Music

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Memory can be a tricky thing. Some memories are pretty straightforward; others are fraught. Take German composer Max Richter’s 2002 collection memoryhouse, about 20th century Europe.


Old Songs / New Works

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Just because a song is around 200 years old doesn’t mean it’s past its sell-by date. John Schaefer looks at how old songs have provided the musical inspiration for contemporary works.


Winter Variations

Saturday, January 06, 2018

On this episode of The Furthermore, hear musical takes on winter from Vivaldi to music from "Game of Thrones."


The Islands of Scotland

Saturday, December 30, 2017

We'll trace how the islands of Scotland influenced composers for over 200 years, since a 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn visited the Hebrides Islands.

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Christmas Time Is Here

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas music doesn’t have to be the same old songs, sung only at this one time of the year. Some Christmas music sounds great any time.

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Music With Jewish Roots

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Just in time for Chanukah, we listen to music with Jewish roots — even if not all of the composers were themselves Jewish.

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Chamber Music From Brahms to Rachel Grimes

Saturday, December 09, 2017

This time on The Furthermore, some chamber music by Brahms and Debussy leads us to more contemporary chamber works by Somei Satoh, Rachel Grimes and Poppy Ackroyd.


The Best of 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

This time on The Furthermore, we look back at some memorable musical events in 2017.


Watch: Martha Argerich and Rome’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

Friday, October 20, 2017

Watch a special presentation of Carnegie Hall Live featuring the legendary pianist Martha Argerich and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

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Michael Tilson Thomas Leads the San Francisco Symphony in Mahler

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS present an evening of symphonic Mahler.

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Listen: Jordi Savall's Musical History of Venice

Friday, February 03, 2017

Jordi Savall takes us through a musical history of Venice.

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Terry Riley Remembers In C

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In this 2009 episode of WNYC's New Sounds, Terry Riley speaks with host John Schaefer about his landmark 1964 work In C which helped usher in the style known as minimalism.

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Lou Harrison Tunes the Gamelan for Western Ears

Monday, March 26, 2012

In this 1997 New Sounds with host John Schaefer, Lou Harrison talks about composing for the Indonesian gamelan, the associated complexities of intonation and his recollections of instrument building and experimentation with fellow West Coast maverick, Harry Partch. 


Frederic Rzewski and DIY Music-Making

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In this 2002 episode of WNYC's Soundcheck, host John Schaefer talks to maverick American icon Frederic Rzewski as well as fellow pianist-composers Michael Hersch and Russian-born Lera Auerbach about performing their own pieces, and working outside the musical mainstream.


Look and Listen: Part II

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On Sunday at 2 pm, Cued Up features the second of four programs featuring performances from the Look and Listen Festival. On tap is a quiet storm of music by John Cage, Colin Jacobsen...


Shhh... Secret News

Sunday, March 06, 2011

This Sunday, Q2 offers live performances by two high-impact bandsembles from New Sounds Live and the Ecstatic Music Festival: the politically conscious Newspeak and Darcy James Argue'...