The Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara died on Wednesday at the age of 87. He wrote eight symphonies, nine operas, 12 instrumental concertos, plus a wide variety of orchestral, chamber, instrumental, choral and vocal works. [more inside]
In December, grad student and occasional NYT music writer Will Robin asked on Twitter, "What are the best large-scale orchestral works of this century?" He Storified the responses, with links for listening, and then on Tuesday, streamed the result: Symphomania, a 24-hour marathon of sixty 21st-century orchestral works by sixty different composers, on Q2 Music at WQXR in New York. Starting tonight at midnight, WQXR is repeating the stream. [more inside]
All of Bach: Every week, you will find a new recording here of one Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1080 works, performed by The Netherlands Bach Society and many guest musicians.
Górecki's 4th Symphony premiered this past weekend. Left unfinished, but near completion, at his death, it has been now been finished by his son, Mikołaj Górecki, who describes the work as "very different from its immediate predecessor … and is closer to monumental works like Symphony No 2 or Beatus Vir and to later pieces with Tatra folk influences such as the Little Requiem." The immediate predecessor, Symphony No 3, was hugely successful, selling over a million CD copies. The Guardian hosts the video of the performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and tells the story behind the posthumous premiere.
World Concert Hall publishes a schedule, seven days out, of live classical concerts and operas scheduled for streaming broadcast on the web.
The sound of silence - Research by Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay published in PNAS suggests that top musicians are judged as much for the visual aspects of their performances, as much as for the aural ones, regardless of the experience level of the listener or judge
Several members of the Philadelphia Orchestra were on a flight from Bejing to Macao that got stuck on the tarmac for three hours. With nothing better to do, the musicians resorted to doing what they do best...
"Note that Scriabin did not, for his theory, recognize a difference between a major and a minor tonality of the same name (for example: c-minor and C-Major). Indeed, influenced also by the doctrines of theosophy, he developed his system of synesthesia toward what would have been a pioneering multimedia performance: his unrealized magnum opus Mysterium was to have been a grand week-long performance including music, scent, dance, and light in the foothills of the Himalayas Mountains that was somehow to bring about the dissolution of the world in bliss." - From Russian composer Alexander Scriabin's Wikipedia page [more inside]
The best classical performance you've never heard: the remarkable violinist Amandine Beyer plays the Diverse Bizzarrie Sopra La Vecchia Sarabanda Ò Pur Ciaccona, by 17th-century composer Nicola Matteis. Here she discusses trying to recreate Matteis's original violin technique, to understand why the Baroque composer, whose work pre-dates Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote his pieces the way he did. Previously, Beyer and her ensemble Gli Incogniti breathed life into one of classical music's most overplayed masterpieces, Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
The Music Ngram Viewer from Peachnote tracks appearances of any given note or chord sequence in a corpus of 60,000 optically scanned public-domain classical scores, ranging from the 17th century to the present -- a la what Google Ngram Viewer does for words and phrases. A fuller description with examples. And if you don't like the Google-esque GUI, you can download the raw data and mess with it yourself. (Via Music Hack Day Boston.)
Sir Roger Moore (recently on MeFi) performs recitations to introduce each segment of Saint-Saëns' 1886 suite Le carnaval des animaux ("The Carnival of Animals") [more inside]
The Australian ABC's Limelight magazine has put together a potted history of music, with video examples (40LYTP). [more inside]
Composer Henryk Górecki, known for his choral and orchestral works in the "sacred minimalist" style, has died. He was best known for his Symphony #3, "Sorrowful Songs," (YT sample) premiered in the U.S. in 1994. Górecki's Symphony #4, scheduled to premier in 2010, was postponed because of the composer's extended illness, will not be completed.
Over the past few years, Eric Whitacre has been taking the composition world by storm. And now he's all over the web. (Most links silent, personal website has an autoplay rainstorm going on.) His choral works range from the mysterious and brooding Water Night to the rambunctious modern madrigal, With a Lily In Your Hand, to the wonderfully lush Sleep (formerly a setting of Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" - tragically halted by copyright infringement, but still available thanks to the magic of YouTube). While his instrumental compositions run the spectrum from silly musical parody (Godzilla Eats Las Vegas) to poignant melancholy (October) with some delicate crossover between vocal and instrumental (Lux Aurumque - first choral, then instrumental!). If you are or think you may be even remotely interested in contemporary classical music, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the work of Eric Whitacre.
Rejoice, classical music lovers! After closing in October 2007 due to copyright issues, the International Music Score Library Project (previously) has reopened! (In June, but there's no FPP about it.) From a quick overview, it seems the site has most of every major (pre-20th-century?) composer's opus - far more than any other "free sheet music" website.
Explore a thousand years of classical music in 30 fifteen-minute programmes on BBC Radio 4.
The International Music Score Library Project. PDF downloads of public domain classical music scores. From solo piano to full symphony orchestra. 2,762 works and counting.
Mahler performances were rare in Vienna in those days because Mahler's city had already been contaminated by the acolytes of Adolf Hitler. By their reckoning, Mahler's music was loathsome — a product of "Jewish decadence." To put Mahler's music on the program was therefore a political act. It was to protest and deny the hateful faith that blazed across the border from Germany. That much I understood quite clearly, even as a boy. The New Yorker's Alex Ross reprints Hans Fantel's New York Times 1989 essay on Bruno Walter's 1938 performance of Mahler's Ninth Symphony -- the last performance of the Vienna Philharmonic before Hitler invaded Austria.
Music is nothing. Sound could become music. The end must be in the beginning, and the beginning in the end. I am here because I am not here. Music lives in the eternal now. Music is the now becoming now. What I learned from Sergiu Celibidache, by Markand Thakar. More inside.
ITC Sangeet Research Academy - a guide and resource of Hindustani classical music
RealPlayer and Flash recommended
RealPlayer and Flash recommended
As a follow up to this earlier thread, the BBC has just posted the final installment of their Beethoven Experience, free mp3s of Beethoven's symphonies 6 through 9. Get them while you can, they're only up for a week (Number 6 goes down on Monday).
From the Top is a weekly radio show broadcast throughout the USA. It originates from Boston's New England Conservatory, but travels all over showcasing young classical musicians. The show can be heard (RealAudio) from the website, and there is an extensive library as well an archive of past shows (photos too)... the kids are very talented, and the show's hosts are great at bringing out their personalities.
Has there ever been a classical music review this damning? "It's difficult to tell how good they are. If they played a wrong note or lost the rhythm, no one but the composer would notice. Music is dead, and here is the corpse, embalmed on two slices of plastic hell. "