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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: The English pianist Gerald Moore was born on this date in 1899. He was best known as an accompanist for some of the world's finest musician--especially singers such as Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Angeles, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He wrote two memoir--name either one. Answer >>

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      Spanish Fever at Grant Park

      February-March 1875, Paris – Within the span of one month, the Parisians saw the premieres of Lalo's Symphonie espagnole and Bizet's Carmen. For the audience, there was something different, something exotic about those pieces – eventually they would be whistling them in the streets. more...

      Does Music Have Meaning or Not?

      Do you think music has meaning? Music can move you; music can make you want to move. For most listeners, it's a simple transaction. There are those who look deeper into our relationship to music, however, and wonder why it affects us so. Igor Stravinsky was one of them. Not always inclined to subtlety more...

      David Robertson Puts Youth in Spotlight

      On Monday evening, David Robertson returns to the Chicago stage, this time with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. There is the notion that some conductors work with youth orchestras while hoping to move on to professional orchestras – not so with David Robertson. He has the big career more...

      Summer Migration, Payoff for Chicago

      If you've ever seen a nature documentary about the Serengeti, you might have some sense of the migratory patterns of classical musicians. There are music centers, like watering holes, to which players journey in order to refresh, commune with others, and nurture the young. The Aspen Music Festival is one of those places. One only has to read the biographies of Chicago's top musicians more...

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      Why music struck a chord with Beckett

      As a festival of Beckett's work opens, its director Sean Doran reveals how the playwright's love of music from Haydn to Beethoven to Schubert underpinned his drama

      "Music always wins" may be an unexpected statement to come from a Nobel prizewinner for literature. But those who knew Samuel Beckett also knew that his was a life embedded in music, both making and listening to it, usually in the company of friends. The writer uttered his three-word resignation when composing his radio play Words and Music, itself probably triggered by an occasion at the piano with his Romanian composer friend Marcel Mihalovici. Both were labouring over Mihalovici's operatic version of Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape, for which Beckett had agreed to write the libretto. Re-engaging with his own words at the behest of music was a struggle. But it led him to the creation of two highly innovative radio plays where music itself became a central character: as well as Words and Music there was Cascando; his composer cousin John Beckett writing the original music for the former, and Mihalovici for the latter.

      Music was always going to win out for a schoolboy sent to lessons with two German spinsters in a place called Stillorgan where the young Beckett grafted at the piano, and word had it that his style of playing was "intense". His cousin Morris Sinclair recalled evenings accompanying Beckett on the violin and remembered "well with what conviction and elan he would play the last movement of Beethoven's Pathétique. The intensity of his absorption was almost ferocious." In the late 1960s, when his sight was beginning to fail, Beckett wrote a humorous description of himself: "... bought a little German piano (a Schimmel) in the country and take it out on Haydn and Schubert ... my nose so close to the score that the keyboard feels behind my back. Get it by heart in the end and lean back."

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      Prom 17: Les Arts Florissants/Christie familiar finesse, classy soloists

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      Rameau's vivid, emotionally immediate Grand Motets brought a flavour of his importance as a composer of sacred music to the anniversary celebrations

      The Rameau anniversary celebrations have tended, inevitably perhaps, to focus on his importance as an opera composer. He only began writing for the stage late in his career, however, and for their late-night Prom, William Christie and Les Arts Florissants turned their attention to an earlier period in his life and the three Grand Motets, his important contribution to sacred music.

      The pieces are shrouded in mystery. They date from around 1715, though the third of them, In Convertendo Dominus, was revised in 1751. We don't know whether they were intended for church or concert performance. Their style pictorial, vivid and emotionally immediate pre-empts that of his operas, leading to discussion as to whether they are ultimately to be understood as devotional or dramatic.

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      Prom 16: Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic/Goetzel review

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      This was a classy, enthusiastic ensemble and Sascha Goetzel the consummate showman at this Middle East-inspired evening

      Founded in 1999, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic is the second orchestra to make its Proms debut as part of this year's "global visitors" series, and the impact it made with its flamboyant principal conductor, Sascha Goetzel, was tremendous. The bulk of the programme consisted of western European works inspired by the Middle East, some of them over-the-top, some teetering uncomfortably on the edge of orientalism. But they're a classy, enthusiastic ensemble, and Goetzel is the consummate showman.

      The programme allowed them to display their technical security over a wide stylistic range. Mozart's overture to Die Entführung aus dem Serail whirred dexterously, while Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, which they played without Goetzel, was all lightness and grace. A group of works from the 19th and early 20th centuries, meanwhile, showcased Goetzel's fine sense of orchestral colour and the virtuosity of the BIPO's playing.

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