Classical Music News

Earlier this month, the New York Philharmonic's outgoing music director Alan Gilbert said goodbye to his orchestra in a series of concerts. Today, he is saying hello to a brand new job in Hamburg, Germany.

Mozart And 'The Peanut Vendor' In Havana

Jun 22, 2017

Last month, American pianist Simone Dinnerstein was in Cuba preparing for her current North American tour with an orchestra of young musicians from Havana. She fondly recalls one very hot rehearsal.

Now here's a creative way to promote your upcoming symphony season and up your brand: Strap your conductor in a motion capture suit, switch on a dozen high-tech cameras, and get an artist to translate the data into kaleidoscopic shapes and colors.

How does a scientist become a principal timpanist at the Met?

Jason Haaheim gets that question all the time. The 38-year-old is a former nanotechnology researcher, with a master's degree in electrical engineering. But four years ago, he made a major life pivot: to play professionally with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

The music of Penguin Cafe is like no other. Its origins date back to the early '70s, within fever dreams Simon Jeffes had that were brought on by food poisoning. In those dreams he imagined a dispassionate world "where everyone lived in big concrete blocks and spent their lives looking into screens. In one room, there was a couple making love lovelessly. In another there was a musician sat at a vast array of equipment, but with headphones on, so there was no actual music in the room." Eerily accurate.

Renée Fleming and Francis Collins have something unexpected in common: music.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, plays guitar. Fleming, of course, is a renowned soprano.

How is this for a first day on the job: Maurice Murphy, the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO)'s late principal trumpet player, spent his very first day with the orchestra recording Star Wars' iconic opening theme, with its incredible brass fanfare — and Murphy leading the trumpets.

If the word "aura" is defined as a pervasive atmosphere, then it's a perfect title for this piece by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who has a knack for creating vivid sonic environments.

When John Luther Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2014 for his undulating orchestral piece Become Ocean, you'd be forgiven for thinking of him as something like the Jacques Cousteau of contemporary classical music.

A video of Russian President Vladimir Putin taking a turn at the ivories in Beijing is currently making the Internet rounds.

There's a musical asterisk on French president-elect Emmanuel Macron's bio: He is an avid amateur pianist. It's a facet of his life occasionally noted in passing, as in this piece from the French radio network Europe 1 titled "The Things You Don't Yet Know About Emmanuel Macron." Along with mentioning his abiding fondness for karaoke, Europe 1 reported that he studied piano for 10 years at the music conservatory in Amiens, where he won third prize.

Another day, another study undercutting the myth surrounding the 18th-century Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari.

Since the early 20th century, musicians and instrument experts have been trying to figure out what, if anything, makes the violins he made sound better.

For professional musicians, the instrument on which they play is more than just a tool of the trade. It can also be a muse, a partner and a voice.

Min Kym started playing the violin at age 6 and won her first competition at 11. Now, the former child prodigy is the author of a new book: Gone: A Girl, A Violin, A Life Unstrung, in which she shares her story of finding her perfect partner — only to have it stolen away.

Although more women have been winning Pulitzer Prizes for music lately, it's still next to impossible to hear works by female composers performed by America's symphony orchestras.

This year's Pulitzer winner, Du Yun, has a lot to say about the situation.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel — one of the most famous Venezuelans in the world today and one of the world's most prominent classical musicians — issued an open letter today to the president and government in his native country.

Long reticent to address politics directly, he has published his comments in a letter titled "Levanto Mi Voz / I Raise My Voice," in both Spanish and English. (The full text is below, in both languages.)

As a composer, I entered a profession in which I knew I could actively alter our fractious present using the incomparable tools of art. After all, the intellectually curious and essentially progressive landscapes of our concert halls and opera houses seem like the perfect arenas in which to harness momentum for change and, through the aspirational craft of music, feel the resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.

For this week's show, Bob Boilen and I throw open the studio door to welcome a parade of guests from the NPR Music team, each sharing their favorite April releases. This includes Jake Witz, one of our fabulous Spring interns, who has some relatively restrained music from U.K. grime artist Mr. Mitch.

What will Bill Murray do next?

The beloved actor's curiosity seems boundless. It should be no surprise, then, to learn that his new project finds him paired with a classical cellist.

A 23-year-old, Russian-born violinist named Artem Kolesov is capturing international attention after posting a YouTube video in which he comes out as gay.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Chinese-born composer Du Yun has taken home this year's Pulitzer Prize for music for her opera Angel's Bone, it was announced today during a ceremony in New York.

It's a curious thing how ancient music can sometimes sound so contemporary. Listen to "Morgunstjarna," and it's as if three centuries' worth of music history evaporates. The anonymous song from 17th-century Iceland sports a catchy, bittersweet melody and rhythmic hook that pop outfits like Peter Bjorn and John might be happy to whistle.

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