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March 2008
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May 2008

A favorite piece: Symphonies of Wind Instruments

Stravinsky in Rehearsal, from 1947:

In 1947, William Malloch, possessed by a sense of history, recorded Igor Stravinsky rehearsing his new revision of his Symphonies of Wind Instruments (in Memory of Debussy). 

[In this 1961 program,] Malloch comments upon and plays this historical recording, which was broadcast by permission of the composer himself. The sound is antique but the picture of what Stravinsky is striving for musically comes through clearly enough.

An amazing find, it's especially interesting because Stravinsky is using the then-brand-new 1947 revision, which greatly clarified his intent in the piece.  Listen here.

More info on this fascinating piece of music here, here and here, and a video of an outstanding performance by the Netherlands Wind Ensemble here.

Listen to new music from the U.S.

Art of the States is a great place to hear contemporary American concert music.  You can listen to Michael Morgan conduct John Adams' Chamber Symphony at Tanglewood, hear William Albright's delightfully askew Four Fancies, performed on harpsichord by the composer. 

Or try some Ives, or a cool percussion piece by David Lang, or some fascinating and sometimes wild transcriptions of Conlon Nancarrow's Studies for Player Piano....or maybe do some deep listening with Pauline Oliveros playing just-intonation accordion, or even go Drumming with Steve Reich.

No matter what you listen to, this terrific site shows that American music has some of the most diverse, imaginative sounds around.  Enjoy.

Composers in their own words, pt. 2: John Corigliano

John Corigliano, one of our great living composers, in interviews:

(links to more performances inside) 

Continue reading "Composers in their own words, pt. 2: John Corigliano" »

Ives and a new, American music

This podcast features Charles Ives, the iconoclastic American musical pioneer who blazed a third way between the seemingly conflicting worlds of popular and concert music. First in a series exploring a reframing of American concert music--an idea central to the Loose Filter Project--this episode features a close look at Ives' fantastic early work Country Band March, emphasizing his compositional craft and his free embrace and use of vernacular music.


Really interesting online listening

The Music Genome Project:

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.

Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

Continue reading "Really interesting online listening" »

Brahms & Steve Thomas

This podcast is a personal look at the composer and his music by pianist and professor Stephen R. Thomas, including excerpts and a performance from the Op. 118 (No.4). His commentary is lively and engaging, and the examples, where he deconstructs some of the music to illustrate specific elements of Brahms' writing and expression, are extremely interesting. A very enjoyable look at this monumental composer---a great quote from our conversation:

"[Brahms] has something which I also admire in Mozart, you know, and that's less is more. Every note is the right note, and that's what makes it great."


Update: Thank you Carnegie Hall!

David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion has been awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The piece was co-commissioned by Carnegie and The Perth Theater and Concert Hall, and received its premiere in Zankel Hall in Oct. 2007. It's a fantastic, moving piece, and you can hear the world-premiere performance here and read Lang's program notes here.

Here's what Lang said about the piece shortly after the announcement was made(courtesy of Frank J. Oteri and the excellent new music portal New Music Box).

My piece is certainly out of the minimal tradition, but it is out of a lot of traditions—the tradition of religious vocal music, story telling, religion in general. It takes a lot from a lot of the things that go into my background and my personality. I am not sure just what it owes to the minimal or experimental worlds—it's simplicity seems to be from those worlds but it also has a kind of old fashioned emotional directness to it, which is very much apart. I think that is the odd thing about the way its influences are mixed; the language and means are very simple but the emotionality comes from a much older musical impulse.

He also says some interesting things about our musical world as it is right now...

Continue reading "Update: Thank you Carnegie Hall!" »

Thank you Carnegie Hall!

Carnegie Hall started commissioning new music a couple of years ago, and is now making recordings of these works available online. From the site:

New and innovative work has long been a part of Carnegie Halls fabric—the world premieres of such now-standard works as Dvoráks New World Symphony and Gershwins An American in Paris took place at the Hall. More recently Carnegie Hall actively began its own commissioning program, and during the 2006-2007 season the works below were added to the growing list of commissioned works.

Some good music up there already, with more to come--so get to listening!