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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Who am I? Iím an American composer born in Mississippi in 1895. I was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have a symphony played by a leading orchestra, and the first to have an opera performed by a major company. I attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where I studied with George Whitefield Chadwick. I was a music arranger for W.C. Handy's band and later arranged for radio and films. I am often referred to as the Dean of African-American composers. Who am I? Answer >>


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      Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg

      David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights. more...

      QUIZ: What American Composer Are You?

      Take this quiz to find out which dean of American music you're most like! Are you sparse and minimal like Philip Glass? Or do you prefer the sis-boom-bah John Philip Sousa? Do you prefer Samuel Barber's sonic landscapes of America, or Scott Joplin's Ragtime portraits of American life? more...

      Our Country, ‘Tis of Thee: How Marian Anderson Broke Boundaries for Singers of Color

      Younger generations of Americans take it for granted that the United States has been legally desegregated. But, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, segregation was the norm, including in concert halls across America. more...

      15 Queer Composers You Should Know

      June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. We celebrate the music of LGBTQ composers all year long since it’s hard to escape a concert season without hearing works by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Britten, and others. But we wanted to recognize a few notable figures, past and present, who do did not or do not identify as heterosexual. Some more... more...

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      Nudity, Nazis and nipple-slicing: 12 controversial opera productions

      A production of William Tell at Covent Garden prompted walkouts with a five-minute rape scene. It’s not the first time an opera has stirred outrage

      Related: The Royal Opera House rape scene disgusted its audience. But it did not move them | Deborah Orr

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      The Royal Opera House rape scene disgusted its audience. But it did not move them | Deborah Orr

      It’s easy to cause outrage, as the booing of the William Tell production showed. The real challenge is to make the cruelty on stage spark meaningful emotions

      The first time I went to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, about 200 years ago, the audience booed at the end of the production. I say 200 years ago; it was actually 1991, and a not overly admired revival of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots.

      At the time, I knew no different, and just thought this was how grand opera audiences behaved – like hooligans. The next day, however, the scandal was on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. It’s a big deal when the members of a Covent Garden audience start behaving as though they’re still members of the Bullingdon club.

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      The Tchaikovsky competition: time to correct an historic anomaly

      Research by pianist Kirill Gerstein has revealed that the standardly performed version of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto differs substantially from what the composer actually wrote. It’s a shame this year’s competitors haven’t taken the opportunity to perform the authentic version

      Today’s third and last instalment of the final round of the piano division of the Tchaikovsky competition will feature Daniel Kharitonov and Dmitry Masleev. Both play two concertos on the same evening, following hard on the virtuosic heels of Sergey Ridkin, George Li, Lucas Debargue and Lukas Geniušas (you can watch all of their performances here), and their performances will undoubtedly bring the usual deluge of double-octaves, pianistic pyrotechnics and bruised egos. And yet amid all the performances of Tchaikovsky’s music (each of the six finalists must play one concerto by Tchaikovsky, plus one other barnstorming showpiece of their choosing), and despite the fact that five out of the six have chosen by far Tchaikovsky’s most famous concerto, the First, you won’t actually be hearing the piece the way the composer himself knew it. In other words, the “Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto” that every pianist plays is not the same version of the piece that the composer himself conducted for his last concert in St Petersburg’s Philharmonia (the hall where the violin division of the Tchaikovsky also has its ultimate concert tonight), just days before his death in 1893.

      It’s one of the most egregious anomalies in the history of classical music’s warhorses, and it’s thanks to pianist Kirill Gerstein and his recent recording that the version that Tchaikovsky actually played and conducted can finally reach a bigger audience. The facts, as Gerstein reveals are these: Hans von Bülow premiered the work in Boston in February 1875, in a version that Tchaikovsky was reluctant to change, even in the face of criticism from pianist and conductor Nikolai Rubinstein. The Russian premiere came in October 1875, when Sergei Taneyev played it with Rubinstein conducting, the latter’s doubts apparently assuaged. Tchaikovsky himself made some changes to the score after this performance, as Gerstein says, changes that “made it more sonorous and playable while leaving both the musical material and the overall structure intact”. This version was published in 1879, and this was the text of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto that stood for the rest of the composer’s life.

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      new releases

      Sugarloaf Mountain

      Avie AV-2329

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      Glass: Piano Music

      Decca 478 8079 (2 CDs)

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      Gidon Kremer: New Seasons

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4817

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      Keith Jarrett: Concertos

      ECM B0022987-02

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      American Chamber Music

      Hyperion CDA-68094

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