In essence

Up close with composers

Music and Nature: Birds

For music and nature, birds are the natural – they sing! Or, rather, we hear their communication as singing. A friend in Hong Kong trains birds to sing, playing them beautiful songs from model birds to learn. The ones with [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | October 1st, 2018
Classical Music and Wine “In Wine, There’s Truth”

When Beethoven was on his deathbed, his publisher supposedly sent him a case of red wine. According to eyewitnesses, Beethoven weakly muttered, “Pity, pity, too late!” Dr. Wawruch, the physician in attendance throughout Beethoven’s final illness, opened his medical report [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 30th, 2018
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14 , Op. 135 Premiered Today in 1969

In his memoirs—supposedly related to Solomon Volkov—Dmitri Shostakovich suggests, “Fear of death may be the most intense emotion of all. I sometimes think that there is no deeper feeling. The irony lies in the fact that under the influence of [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 29th, 2018
Bringing Indigenous Sounds to the Symphony

In 1935-36, the Mexican composer and conductor Carlos Chávez brought out his second symphony, the Sinfonía India. Written in 1935 while he was in New York, the symphony received its premiere in a radio broadcast with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra [...] more >>

by Maureen Buja | September 28th, 2018
Stravinsky: L’Histoire du Soldat Premiered Today in 1918

Dwindling economic resources and the unprecedented sufferings inflicted by the “Great War” forced composers to search for new avenues of artistic and musical expression. Taking refuge in Switzerland, the young Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet introduced Stravinsky to the author Charles-Ferdinand [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 28th, 2018
At the Center of the Musical Universe Giacomo Meyerbeer

Giacomo Meyerbeer’s five-act opera Robert le diable premiered at the Paris Opera on 21 November 1831. It was the first of four works for which Meyerbeer was to become one of the most prominent composers of opera at the time. [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 26th, 2018
Bernstein: West Side Story Premiered Today in 1957

On 26 September 1957, the Winter Garden Theatre—one of the Broadway theatres located between 50th and 51st Streets in midtown Manhattan—opened with a musical inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. With a libretto by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 26th, 2018
Michael Balfe: Grandma in the Closet

Musicians always had rather hectic traveling and work schedules, with appearances frequently organized along incredibly tight timetables and in far-flung locations. And the Irish composer and conductor Michael William Balfe (1808-1870) was no exception. He started his career as a [...] more >>

by Georg Predota | September 25th, 2018