Classical Music News

In 1933, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere of Symphony No. 1 by a then little-known composer named Florence Price. The performance marked the first time a major orchestra played music by an African-American woman.

Price's First Symphony, along with her Fourth, has just been released on an album featuring the Fort Smith Symphony, conducted by John Jeter.

The globalization of pop music has been under way for a while now, with the sounds and sensibilities of K-pop, reggaeton and myriad other Latinx styles serving as major sources of fuel.

Conductors, like most music lovers, keep discovering music that is new to them. My own latest discovery is the Turangalîla-Symphonie, a mind-blowing 75-minute orchestral piece by Olivier Messiaen, written in the 1940s. It's a rare treat for me to be able to work on a piece from the middle of the 20th century that I have never even heard performed live.

How do you play an instrument you never physically touch? Watch Carolina Eyck. She's the first to bring a theremin to the Tiny Desk. The early electronic instrument with the slithery sound was invented almost 100 years ago by Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist with a penchant for espionage. It looks like a simple black metal box with a couple of protruding antennae, but to play the theremin like Eyck does, with her lyrical phrasing and precisely "fingered" articulation, takes a special kind of virtuosity.

Opera star Renée Fleming drew concern last year after a New York Times profile suggested the acclaimed soprano would be retiring. Luckily for fans, it turned out to be a false alarm.

Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is a superstar. The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated tenor is one of the highest-selling vocalists in music. In 1999, Bocelli scored a Guinness World Record for simultaneously holding the No. 1, 2 and 3 spots on Billboard's Classical Top 10 chart. Since then, Bocelli has collaborated with everyone from Celine Dion to Ariana Grande. But on his latest album, Sì, Bocelli tries something he finds really daunting — recording with his 21-year-old son, Matteo.

Karim Wasfi became famous around the world because of misfortune. The renowned performer and conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra played cello at the scenes of suicide attacks in Baghdad in 2015. He was the man who made beautiful music among the wreckage of a great city.

As a singer, arranger, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, it should come as no surprise that Jacob Collier comes from a profoundly musical family. His maternal grandparents were both professional violinists, his mother is an accomplished violinist and longtime instructor at the Royal Academy of Music in London and so, naturally, Collier taught himself to play every instrument he could find.

In a move that is astonishing much of the classical music world, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) announced Wednesday that it has appointed Finnish composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen as its next music director, beginning in September 2020.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.


Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what's great about a culture. That's exactly what Czech composer Antonin Dvorak was when he came to the U.S. at the end of the 19th century, an immigrant thrown into a new world and new sounds.

Keeping with Morning Edition's longstanding Thanksgiving Day tradition, classical music commentator Miles Hoffman stops by to give listeners a sample of music that speak to the themes of the holiday. This year's music selection serves as a lesson on famous references to musical fowl throughout history.

The irony couldn't have been more vivid when Maria Callas sang the words "The dead don't rise again from the grave," from Verdi's opera Macbeth, on stage Friday night at the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg, Va.

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Slingshot, VuHaus public radio stations and NPR Music's emerging artist series, spotlighted 40 artists over the course of the past 10 months. Now it's time for you to tell us your favorite.

Updated Nov. 1 at 9:34 a.m. ET

For the second time in just over two months, renowned opera singer David Daniels has been accused of sexually assaulting a young singer.

Andrew Lipian, a former student of Daniels at the University of Michigan (UM), has filed a civil suit against both Daniels and the school over a March 2017 incident in which he alleges he was drugged and assaulted by Daniels.

The Cleveland Orchestra announced on Wednesday that it has fired two of its prominent musicians on the basis of sexual misconduct: concertmaster William Preucil and principal trombonist Massimo La Rosa.

Until recently, most classical music videos have been humdrum affairs. Musicians, in concert attire, earnestly produce their notes with eyes closed and heads tilted in a beatific expression, somewhere between a migraine and an attempt to channel Bach from the heavens.

Two additional women, violinists Emilia Mettenbrink and Raffaela Kalmar, have made allegations of sexual misconduct against violinist William Preucil, the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and a now-former instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). Their accusations were printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday.

Over two decades ago in 1997, when violinist Hilary Hahn was 17, she made a celebrated recording debut, Hilary Hahn Plays Bach. That year, Hahn told NPR about her enthusiasm for Bach's music.

"There's nothing I really wanted to record more than Bach," Hahn said. "I can work on it for a long time and keep discovering more things that surprise me every time."

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the greatest cellists of all time. His relationship with the music of Bach is widely known, but he paid tribute to another artist during his set: Pablo Casals. The Spanish cellist discovered the Bach suites in a music store in 1890 and brought them to modern attention.

Magos Herrera is a jazz singer from Mexico, but she has also sung pop songs with Brazilian beats and crooned Mexican classics with a touch of rock. Herrera takes another adventuresome step on her new album, Dreamers, where she partners with a classical string quartet for an album steeped in Latin American culture. The potent mix of themes and the sound of the string quartet, plus a little percussion, are compelling.

Two of the country's oldest and most venerated music institutions, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera, are beginning their seasons with a change in artistic leadership. Both organizations are grappling with 21st century issues of bringing new audiences in and convincing them that centuries-old music forms are central to their lives today.

Despite being one of the first and oldest forms of popular music, opera sometimes struggles to connect with 21st century audiences. However, Anthony Roth Costanzo is breaking down the genre's stodgy stereotype and making opera more accessible — taking his distinctive sound to the masses, from a sixth-grade classroom in the Bronx to NPR's own Tiny Desk.

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