Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A String Quartet Creates a Soundtrack for Divorce

In 2008, Victoria Paterson, a violinist in New York, was walking across Central Park after a dinner date with her husband, Robert, a percussionist and composer. The two were commenting on how they had several friends who were getting divorced and they didn't know how to appropriately respond.

"What do you when a friend gets divorce?" she asked. "Do you send them flowers or chocolates?"

The couple had recorded an album called "Classical Wedding Music" several years earlier and this led to an epiphany. "We began thinking of wedding music standards that could be recast," she said. Pachelbel's Canon in D, the wedding standard, became Pachelbel's Canon in Divorce (set as a minor-key dirge); Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream was reworked as Midsummer Nightmare; Beethoven's Ode to Joy became "Ode to Sorrow."  Read More

Understanding Focal Dystonia

About one to two percent of professional musicians will develop focal dystonia, potentially ruining their careers. After Parkinson’s disease and “essential tremor,” it is the third most common movement disorder, yet its precise cause remains unknown.

Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman, Tokyo String Quartet violinist Peter Oundjian and Chicago Symphony Orchestra oboist Alex Klein have all been stymied by this neurological disorder.  Read More

Maurice André, Regarded as World's Greatest Solo Trumpeter, Dies at 78

Maurice André, the son of French miner who sparked an international renaissance for the solo trumpet, died Saturday at age 78. André was praised for his bright tone and seemingly effortless virtuosity, but he also played a role in the Baroque music revival through his playing on the piccolo trumpet. André appeared on more than 300 recordings over a 50-plus-year career.  Read more

Monday, February 13, 2012

Send a Free Valentine's Day e-card from the British Library!

The first kiss of Lancelot and Guinevere in the presence of Galehot and the Lady of Malohaut, from Le Livre de Lancelot del Lac (French, c. 1316)

Click here to get started with your card!  Who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with love-letters? There are several Saint Valentines, one of whom was a Christian priest who lived in Rome during the third century.

According to one legend, the emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with families. He therefore outlawed marriage for young soldiers. Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered him to be put to death. This supposedly took place on the eve of the feast of Lupercalia (14 February).

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Digital Files Available in Smithsonian Global Sound - take a listen!

Smithsonian Global Sound just released 84 new albums (1,120 tracks) into Smithsonian Global Sound.

 Included in this release are the Mickey Hart Collection, a 25 CD collection that preserves and furthers the Grateful Dead percussionist’s endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons.  25 albums are drawn from “The World,” a series Hart curated that incorporated his solo projects, other artists’ productions, and re-releases of out-of-print titles. Six of the twenty-five albums form the “Endangered Music Project,” a collaboration between Mickey Hart and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which presents recordings from musical traditions at risk.

 Other releases include material from Collector Records, Cook Records, Monitor Records, and the Smithsonian Folkways Special Series, which currently comprises a release of pianist Robert Prichard, and the release Haitiana.

Check it out, and have fun!!