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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: An early Italian composer was also the organist at San Marcos (St. Mark's) Cathedral in Venice from 1566 until his death in 1585. He was succeeded by his nephew who served as organist and chief composer until 1612. What was the family name and what were their first names? Answer >>

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      Composer-Pianist Plays “Super” Music on Nintendo Themed Piano

      It’s a truth universally acknowledged by music students around the world that at any given moment in any conservatory, there’s at least one person in the practice rooms playing Bach, Beethoven, and the songs from Nintendo’s classic game Super Mario Bros. The video game, released in 1985, has some pretty memorable music: six songs composed by Koji more... more...

      Vic Firth, Who Revolutionized Drumstick Manufacture, Dies at 85

      Vic Firth, the long time principal timpanist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who revolutionized the manufacture of percussion sticks and mallets, passed away Sunday at age 85. Seiji Ozawa, one of many illustrious conductors with whom Firth worked throughout his career, once said Firth was, “the single greatest percussionist anywhere in the world.” Firth was more... more...

      6 of Muti’s Most Memorable Moments in Chicago

      Riccardo Muti, the celebrated conductor from Naples, Italy, came to Chicago in 2010 when he became the 10th music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Since, Chicagoans have enjoyed many magical moments with the maestro both in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center and beyond, as the CSO extends its reach with performances in the community. more... more...

      From YouTube to Lyric: Composer Jimmy López on his Operatic Debut

      Composer Jimmy López never could have imagined that uploading some of his music on YouTube could have landed him his first opera commission, and at Lyric Opera of Chicago, no less. Read more about the creation of this new opera before it has its world-premiere this fall in a behind-the-scenes interview with the composer during tech rehearsals. more...

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      Adams: Absolute Jest; Grand Pianola Music CD review – musically serious but still enormous fun

      John Adams’s Grand Pianola Music succeeds in its referencing of Beethoven’s cascading arpeggios, but the Absolute Jest is limited by the shards of scherzos

      It was moving out west in the early 1970s, swapping what he saw as the buttoned-up musical culture of Boston and New York for the much more open-minded artistic atmosphere of California, that liberated John Adams as a composer. It meant exchanging academic serialism for the freewheeling approach of John Cage and his followers, and set him on the musical path that he has followed ever since. The orchestra of what became Adams’ home town played a hugely important part in the early stages of that journey; between 1978 and 1985 Adams was respectively the San Francisco Symphony’s (SFS) new-music adviser and then its composer in residence, and his earliest orchestral works were all introduced and first recorded by them.

      So there’s a nice symmetry in pairing one of those pieces with Adams’s most recent commission from the SFS. The orchestra gave the first performance of Grand Pianola Music in 1982, and of Absolute Jest 30 years later. What also links the two works is Beethoven. But where Grand Pianola Music’s references to the Emperor Concerto and its cascading arpeggios and celebrations of B flat and E flat major are only a starting point, the use of Beethoven’s music in Absolute Jest – the scherzos of the Op 131 and 135 quartets, Grosse Fuge, Ninth Symphony and Waldstein Sonata – seems both the raison d’etre and the limiting factor of the whole work.

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      Three Choirs festival: Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie review – scintillating, extreme physicality

      Hereford Cathedral
      The Philharmonia’s Turangalîla under Jac van Steen, with Steven Osborne’s piano, had extraordinary impact: a tumult of sounds bouncing off stone pillars

      Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie is not so obviously imbued with the Christianity of his later compositions, yet the composer saw the human love he celebrated within it as a reflection of divine love.

      Related: Rufus Wainwright: Why I love composer Olivier Messiaen

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      Prom 14: LSO/Gergiev review – Prokofiev piano concertos score mixed results

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      Daniil Trifonov, Sergei Babayan and Alexei Volodin’s treatments of all five works were fine individual achievements that made a less than ideal evening

      Following immediately on from Leif Ove Andsnes’s remarkable Beethoven cycle, the Proms turned its attention to Prokofiev’s piano concertos, albeit according them very different treatment. Shared between three pianists, and with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, all five were performed in chronological order in a single concert, which proved less than ideal, despite fine individual achievements.

      The concertos are variable in quality. Except for the Fourth – for the left hand only, and commissioned in 1931 by the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm as the result of a wartime injury – Prokofiev wrote them for himself as flamboyant showpieces. The atrociously difficult Second is arguably the greatest, the Third the most popular. The chronological approach meant that the introverted Fourth and flashy, aphoristic Fifth seemed anticlimactic. Many in the audience, drawn by the prospect of Daniil Trifonov playing the First and Third, left after the latter.

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      Eschenbach: Romantic Piano Music

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