Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Royal Opera House 'William Tell' with Gang-Rape Scene Draws 'Unprecedented' Booing

A scene from Rossini's 'William Tell' at the Royal Opera HouseA scene from Rossini's 'William Tell' at the Royal Opera House (ROH)
The opening night performance on Monday of a new production of William Tell at London's Royal Opera House was marked by loud and prolonged booing over a scene in which a woman is raped by soldiers.
The production, by Italian director Damiano Michieletto, updates Rossini's classic tale of the 14th-century Swiss hero William Tell to the 1990's Balkan conflict. Music critics – largely on the side of the booers – described the audience's reaction to the third-act ballet scene as unprecedented in the company's recent history  More

Q&A: Bartok's Biographer Addresses Questions of Asperger's Syndrome

Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk musicBela Bartok (center) collecting folk music (N/A)

Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk music Bela Bartok (center) collecting folk music (N/A)
Dvorak his Slavonic Rhapsodies, Brahms had his Hungarian Dances.

But few of history's major composers went as far to harvest melodies and rhythms as Béla Bartók (1881-1945), who published nearly 2,000 folk tunes and collected many more in journeys that spanned "awful roads and terrible carriages," as the composer once wrote during a visit to a small Transylvanian village.

Bartók lugged his primitive recording equipment across the countryside of Eastern European (including his native Hungary), collecting songs that were on the verge of extinction. He transformed many of them into string quartets, violin sonatas, dramatic works and orchestral pieces.

A new biography by musicologist David Cooper (Yale University Press) delves into the ethnic traditions that Bartók drew from and also explores his relationships with famous performers. It also raises some more disputed ideas. We spoke with Cooper about Béla Bartók.

Your book has generated some debate for its suggestions that Bartók may have had Asperger's Syndrome. How did this come to light?  More

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pride Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Gay Composers

Aaron Copland with Samuel Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti in Bernardsville, NJ, 1945 Aaron Copland with Samuel Barber and Gian-Carlo Menotti in Bernardsville, NJ, 1945 (Victor Kraft/Library of Congress)
Twenty years ago, RCA caused a minor stir with "Out Classics," a CD of music by Schubert, Saint-Saens, Barber, Copland and Britten, among other composers who happened to be gay.The compilation topped the Billboard Classical Chart – aided by a racy cover and some criticism over its dubious choice of pieces. But even if smacked of a marketing ploy, it also highlighted a facet of composers that was historically repressed by the classical music establishment.  More

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ornette Coleman, Composer and Saxophonist Who Rewrote the Language of Jazz, Dies at 85

Ornette Coleman performing at the Village Vanguard in 1961. CreditSam Falk/The New York Times
Ornette Coleman, the alto saxophonist and composer who was one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 85.
The cause was cardiac arrest, a family representative said.
Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course. Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early 60s, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm while gaining more distance from the American songbook repertoire. more

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New York Philharmonic Selects Anna Thorvaldsdottir for Emerging Composer Post

Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir is become the New York Philharmonic's Marie-Josee Kravis Emerging Composer, a one-year appointment that comes with a $50,000 stipend.
The Icelandic composer, 37, is the second recipient of the award, following Sean Shepherdwho was appointed in June 2012. Along with the stipend, Thorvaldsdottir will be commissioned to write a piece for the Philharmonic. She won the Nordic Council prize for her orchestral composition, Dreaminga quiet piece that "embodies a flowing world of sound," according to a program note.  More

Apple Music Brings Change to Streaming, but Is It Enough?

 When Apple launches its Apple Music streaming service at the end of June, it will affect things big and small in the music industry.
Hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users in more than 100 countries will get to try the $10-per-month service for free for the next three months when it is pushed to their devices with a free upgrade.
They'll get unlimited access to tens of millions of songs during the trial, and afterward be required to pay a monthly fee for access, instead of paying for each album or song download.
"It'll change the way you experience music forever," CEO Tim Cook promised Monday at Apple's annual conference for software developers, held in San Francisco. Read more

Tony Award Winners 2015: Full List

“Fun Home” was one of the biggest winners of Broadway’s biggest night at the 69th annual Tony Awards, taking home four awards including best musical and best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical for Michael Cerveris.
As for plays, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” came out on top, winning best play, best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play for Alex Sharp, best direction of a play and best scenic design of a play.  More