COMPOSER NEWSBeethoven's Famous 4 Notes: Truly Revolutionary Music
November 20, 2012
A new book, a new recording and some old instruments, all addressing the most memorable phrase in music: the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
Brahms and the Orchestra
November 13, 2012
This season the New york Philharmonic is traveling through the rich landscapes of all of Brahms’s symphonies and concertos. Jan Swafford traces the composer’s thorny path to creating some of the greatest works in the orchestral repertoire.
What Would the Cloud Atlas Sextet Really Sound Like?
October 30, 2012
In what may be the best of Cloud Atlas's trans-historical sextet of tales, a young composer, Robert Frobisher, struggles to complete his masterpiece. In the novel upon which the film is based, David Mitchell spends a fair number of words describing Frobisher’s music, so the team tasked with creating a version of it for the movie—Tom Tykwer (who directed the film along with the Wachowski siblings), Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil—faced an unusual challenge: Would they try to turn those words into music, or create a new sound of their own?
Creating a Storm
October 25, 2012
When Thomas Adès’s The Tempest premiered in 2004, the response was overwhelming. Now this contemporary masterpiece is coming to the Met, with the composer conducting Robert Lepage’s magical production and Simon Keenlyside returning to Prospero, the role he created to widespread acclaim.
Whatever happened to the composer's duty?
October 23, 2012
Benjamin Britten spoke of “the composer’s duty, as a member of society, to speak to or for his fellow human beings”. Yet it is a paradox of twenty-first century classical music that activism only becomes a priority when times are bad and livelihoods are threatened. It was not always so, and Britten’s War Requiem, commissioned for the consecration in 1962 of the new Coventry Cathedral, is a passionate statement of the composer’s pacifist beliefs.
BBC Composer of the Week: Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
October 11, 2012
Donald Macleod picks his way through Debussy's Preludes, one of the composer's most significant contributions to piano literature, and looks at how financial necessity sometimes got in the way of Debussy's lofty artistic ambitions.
Jonathan Biss: Shooting Down The Schumann Detractors
October 09, 2012
Robert Schumann's music has always been a huge part of my life; at the moment, it is at the center. Last week in San Francisco, I played the first concert of Schumann: Under the Influence, a project three years in the planning which will dominate my entire concert season. Each of the many programs the project encompasses will feature not only Schumann's music — solo works, chamber music, and lieder — but the music that shaped him, and the incredibly wide swath of music that owes a debt to him.
BBC Composer of the Week: Field and Chopin (1782-1837 and 1810-1849)
September 27, 2012
Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.
Cecilia Bartoli's Latest 'Mission' Rediscovers Agostino Steffani
September 25, 2012
Mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli uncovers the music of Agostino Steffani, a 17th-century composer who led a double life as a diplomat. Cecilia Bartoli has a passion for musical archaeology: "I am the Indiana Jones of classical," she says jokingly to All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.
Bartoli rummages through music history to uncover forgotten opera composers deserving of her detailed and dramatic performances. Her new album, Mission, introduces her most recent "find," the late-17th-century Italian Agostino Steffani.
Take a Chance on Cage, Gerhard Richter’s Zippy Stripes
September 20, 2012
To perform John Cage’s “4’33",” musicians come out, bow and then remain silent for the duration. Premiered in 1952, it’s his most influential work.
BBC Composer of the Week: Muzio Clementi (1750-1832)
September 18, 2012
Focusing on the summer of 1780, when Clementi found himself in a piano contest with Mozart.
33 Musicians On What John Cage Communicates
September 13, 2012
100 years ago today, John Cage was born. In celebration of his birthday, we asked contemporary musicians across a wide range of genres and backgrounds — not only in classical music, but also pop, rock, metal, electronic and experimental — what they've taken from the late composer's musical and philosophical ideas.
Gorecki's 'Miserere,' An A Cappella Oasis Of Calm
September 11, 2012
The Los Angeles Master Chorale and conductor Grant Gershon have just released Miserere, a gorgeous album including three of the composer's a cappella works. Gershon has been exploring Górecki's music with this chorus since he became its music director a decade ago. "We continue to find new wellsprings of compassion and humanity in these works," Gershon writes in the liner notes.
BBC Composer of the Week: John Adams (1947-)
September 06, 2012
Donald Macleod's guest this week, John Adams, has said of his music that 'in a sense, all of my pieces are travel pieces - it's the way I experience musical form'. Today, the composer talks about some of his journeys in sound, about comparisons that have been made between himself and Copland, and about the health of American contemporary music.
The “E” Word
May 21, 2012
For the past few weeks I’ve been musing about composition education at the college level, working through some suggestions as to how the pedagogy and curriculum of teaching composers might be reexamined. In addition to integrating a composition curriculum with that of an institution’s music education area and expanding that curriculum to include a composition pedagogy course, my third and final suggestion is in the realm of entrepreneurism.
BBC Composer of the Week: The Chapel Royal
May 17, 2012
Donald Macleod charts the fortunes of a new master to the royal musicians.
Aung San Suu Kyi inspires classical music piece
May 08, 2012
Burmese opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi is to be celebrated in a newly commissioned piece of classical music, BBC Radio 3 has announced.
BBC Composer of the Week: Composer of the Week, Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
May 03, 2012
Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the music and life of Luigi Cherubini with a look of his extraordinary political flexibility - an essential survival skill in the looking-glass world of post-Revolutionary France.
Bang On A Concerto: A New Percussion Piece By Rautavaara
May 01, 2012
Pity the poor percussionist in Mozart's day. He didn't have much to do in the orchestra, save for the occasional punctuating roll of the kettledrum (usually supporting a burst of brass) or the rare ping of a triangle.
How Classical Music Shaped Sondheim’s Songs
April 26, 2012
Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has helped to create some of Broadway’s greatest stage shows. But he says the world of classical music is behind some of his deepest influences, including such composers as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Joseph-Maurice Ravel.