Podcast: Michael Daugherty. Three vivid orchestral narratives.

Michael Daugherty is considered among the Top 10 most performed American composers of concert music today. This podcast details three of his orchestral works that cement this status. Each was inspired by a larger-than-life American cultural figure—the author Ernest Hemingway, the artist Grant Wood and Randolph Hearst, who headed an extensive journalistic empire in the Read More …

A baker’s dozen

Nadia Boulanger was born in 1887 on the date of today’s post, 16 September; she died in 1979 at the age of 92. She was a French pianist/organist and the first woman to conduct leading orchestras in Europe and America; she also composed. But she’s remembered chiefly as a teacher, who was responsible for the Read More …

Podcast: Aaron Copland. Martha Graham. Ruth Page. A balletic major triad.

Raymond Bisha presents two ballet scores by Aaron Copland: one woefully little known; one a beloved staple of dance companies. The jazz-influenced Hear Ye! Hear Ye! (1934) narrates the scenario of a nightclub murder and the ensuing trial in a Chicago courtroom. Highlighting life at the violent edge of American society, the work’s original choreography Read More …

September Songs

Having grown up a student in the northern hemisphere, September was never a favourite month of mine since it primarily marked the start of a new academic year. This mild dread was exacerbated by all the jolly ‘Back to School’ advertisements, since the experience itself never seemed particularly jolly to me. Knowing that Naxos will Read More …

Podcast: Kevin Puts. Three fascinating symphonic works.

Kevin Puts is one of today’s leading American composers. His persuasive music, colourfully orchestrated and emotionally charged, is well showcased on this month’s new release of three of his highly engaging symphonic works. Raymond Bisha guides us from the adventurous harmonic combinations of River’s Rush to the elegant transparency of the Flute Concerto and the Read More …

A Fab Four

The week ahead moves between the Zodiac signs of Leo (ends August 22) and Virgo (starts August 23). No doubt there’s a gradual astrological change of character traits between people born under the respective signs, but this particular week of 19-25 August marks the anniversaries of the births of four people who all bear a Read More …

Podcast: John Field’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 7 + Piano Sonata No. 4

The pianist and composer John Field certainly didn’t let the grass grow under his feet. He was born in Dublin, spent time in Bath and London, performed before Haydn, sustained a long European association with Clementi, then took Russian residency for a quarter of a century before spending his final years battling the illness that Read More …

Echoes of Edinburgh

August 5 marks the opening of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival [EIF]. Together with the Fringe Festival’s cladding of some three thousand satellite events, EIF’s exhaustive programme of theatre, music, dance and opera runs until August 29. In the words of The Spectator: “… you can sleep in September.” Founded in 1947, EIF has developed Read More …

A Magnificent Seven

Alan Fletcher is the president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival, one of America’s leading classical music events. He has every reason to be proud of the festival’s history and achievements; but he’s less enamoured of his country’s track record in promoting the works of certain 20th-century American symphonists. Last month he elaborated on Read More …

You ditty rats!

The Brothers Grimm cited the date as 26 June 1284; Robert Browning gave 22 July 1376. Different dates, same event: the occasion when the Pied Piper, cheated of his promised reward for clearing Hamelin of its infestation of rats, led the children of the town away and into a mountainous cavern, never to be seen Read More …