Let’s Skiffle John Lennon and the Quarrymen

The musical genre called “Skiffle” originated in African-American culture in the early 20th century. Drawing its influences from jazz, blues, and folk, it usually featured poor musicians using homemade or improvised instruments. Washboards, jugs, cigar-box fiddles and comb-and-paper kazoos accompanied [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 29th, 2015
BBC Proms 2015 Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel , Op. 28

For Richard Strauss, music was always capable of telling a good story. In his tone poems, we find a composer “capable of making poetic or narrative content and formal design coalesce with great brilliance.” Strauss’s tone poems—although he preferred to [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 23rd, 2015
Brahms by Arrangement

During his early compositional career, Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) exhibited a heightened sense of musical insecurity. He self-consciously responded to criticism, even when leveled by his closest personal friends, by ruthlessly destroying or severely reshaping his compositions. His Piano Quintet in [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 21st, 2015
BBC Proms 2015 Franz Schmidt: Symphony No. 2

It is difficult to make a living as a composer at the best of times. But when you are trying to make your mark at the peak of music’s history as a cultural form, your chances of success diminish significantly. [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 15th, 2015
Rach goes to the Movies

Just four days shy of his 70th birthday, Sergei Rachmaninoff died of melanoma on 28 March 1943 in Beverly Hills, California. He always wished to be buried at his estate in Switzerland, but the ravages of WWII only allowed for [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 11th, 2015
Leonard Bernstein: The Spirit of New York

Leonard Bernstein had always longed to write the Great American Opera. Yet, as it happens, he ended up writing the great American musical! In 1949, the theater producer and dance choreographer Jerome Robbins envisioned a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | July 8th, 2015
Leonard Bernstein: Music can communicate the unknowable

Leonard Bernstein undoubtedly was one of the most supremely talented interpretive musicians of the 20th century. Yet his compositional talents, as Mstislav Rostropovich has argued, “are simply not on par with his abilities as an interpreter.” Leon Botstein, President of [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 29th, 2015

As soon as Robert and Clara Schumann got married on 12 September 1840, they confided their most intimate thoughts and ideas to a shared diary. Topics ranged from mundane household matters to subjects of a rather intimate private nature, like [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | June 25th, 2015