JPR Classics

JPR Classics
3:02 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago Thursday.
The LIFE Picture Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:23 am

It's rare to be able to celebrate a person who invented a popular musical instrument. Mostly, from the guitar to the violin to the flute, musical instruments have evolved over time: There is no Mr. Flute or Ms. Trumpet. But there is a Mr. Sax — or, rather, a Monsieur Sax.

Adolphe Sax was born in Belgium 200 years ago Thursday. As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

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JPR Classics
12:36 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Celebrating John Philip Sousa's 160th Birthday

Legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. back in 1854. (AP)

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:59 pm

On this day in 1854, legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C.

Today also happens to be the birthday of Here & Nows Robin Young, so to celebrate the dual occasion we listened to some Sousa favorites with longtime Sousa lover Keith Brion, founder and director of the New Sousa Band. He also happens to live next door to Robin Young in Cambridge, Mass.

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JPR Classics
2:41 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Amid Hunger And Cold, An Unforgettable Symphony Premiere

Citizens of Leningrad collect water from a broken main in the winter of 1942, during a blockade of the Russian city by Nazis.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 9:30 am

In early 1941, Dmitri Shostakovich was nervous. He was one of Soviet Russia's most brilliant composers, but he had fallen out of favor with the ruthless dictator Joseph Stalin.

He'd been forced to denounce several of his own pieces of music, and some of his friends and family had been imprisoned or killed. He knew the same thing could happen to him.

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JPR Classics
10:40 am
Fri October 31, 2014

A Violin Concerto Back From Beyond The Grave

Robert Schumann wrote his Violin Concerto in 1853.
Josef Kriehuber Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 11:40 am

Classical music meets Halloween and the paranormal Thursday night when the National Symphony Orchestra plays the Schumann Violin Concerto, a work buried for nearly a century and recovered — or so the story goes — by a message from the beyond.

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JPR Classics
3:05 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Just Who Is This Opera Star Singing At The World Series Tonight?

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is singing the national anthem at Game 7 of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, Mo.
Simon Pauly Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 1:39 pm

Maybe this trajectory mirrors the Kansas City Royals' unlikely road to the pennant: An opera star beats out much more mainstream artists to sing the national anthem at the decisive World Series Game 7.

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JPR Classics
7:03 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns' piece Danse Macabre draws on the late-medieval allegory of "the Dance of Death" — pictured here in a painting of the same name by Frans Francken II.
Getty Images / The Bridgeman Art Library

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 10:03 am

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JPR Classics
7:55 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Danish String Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Starff

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 5:03 am

An abundance of facial hair is not restricted to the sensitive male indie-rocker set. Three of the four players in the Danish String Quartet could easily pass for hipster Brooklyn beard farmers. "We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard," the group's website says.

Yet what's really important about the ensemble is how they play — and judging from this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, these Nordic lads possess warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none.

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JPR Classics
4:52 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Oratorio Tackles The Issue Of Leaks From 'The Source'

Originally published on Sat October 25, 2014 8:57 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

JPR Classics
12:31 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Great Danes: Three Symphonic Albums By Danish Composers

A 1931 portrait of Danish composer Carl Nielsen by Sigurd Swane. Nielsen's symphonies are still undervalued.
Alfredo Dagli Orti The Art Arc

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 9:58 am

Denmark may be small — smaller than West Virginia — but its musical impact is disproportionately big. Since the late 19th century, some of the best symphonists have hailed from the Scandinavian country, and though they may not be household names in the U.S., their works have influence far beyond their homeland.

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JPR Classics
5:41 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Opera About 1985 Achille Lauro Hijacking Draws Protests At Met

Protesters rail outside the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center on opening night of the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" on Monday in New York.
Bryan Thomas Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 8:29 am

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was among those who showed up at the Metropolitan Opera last night to denounce the production of The Death of Klinghoffer, which protesters say glorifies terrorism.

Chanting "Shame on the Met!" protesters, numbering about 400, said the performance of the 23-year-old opera was an affront to the memory of Leon Klinghoffer, a passenger on the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro that was hijacked by members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1985. Klinghoffer, 69, was shot in his wheelchair and dumped overboard.

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JPR Classics
7:06 am
Mon October 20, 2014

After 200 Years, A Schubert Song Still Resonates

Scottish-American soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) portrayed Goethe's character Gretchen, known as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's opera Faust.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 4:32 pm

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JPR Classics
6:58 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Postlude To A Kiss: Scriabin's Raging 'Poem Of Ecstasy'

Alexander Scriabin originally set out to write a piece called "Orgiastic Poem," centered on physical ecstasy, but later decided to alter the title to something more ambiguous.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 21, 2014 8:03 am

I love composer anniversaries because they afford us opportunities to look at musicians anew, and 2015 will mark the centenary of the death of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. It's quite possible that you've never heard of Scriabin, but take comfort in the fact that even his biographer said, "No one was more famous during their lifetime, and few were more quickly ignored after death."

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JPR Classics
1:15 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Twenty Years Later, 'Klinghoffer' Still Draws Protests

Several hundred protesters picket the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season at Lincoln Center, Sept. 22, 2014. "You will be made to destroy that set," Jeffrey Wiesenfeld said.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 3:26 pm

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is bracing for one of the more controversial productions in its history. Since its first performance more than 20 years ago, some critics have charged that composer John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer is anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic. But the opera's supporters dispute that. They argue that Klinghoffer is a dramatic masterpiece that deserves to make its Met debut on Monday.

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JPR Classics
7:40 am
Mon October 13, 2014

The Case Of The Stolen Stradivarius

The Lipinski Stradivarius is worth between $5 million and $6 million. Only about 650 Strads, made by master luthier Antonio Stradivari, survive today.
Courtesy of Frank Almond

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 3:52 pm

Stradivarius violins are so important that they come with their own biographies. Several hundred of them survive today, and they're so prized, you can trace their lineages through the musicians who played them over the centuries.

The instruments have been valued at prices ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to several million. That kind of money attracts a lot of nonmusicians, like investors — and thieves.

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JPR Classics
7:29 am
Mon October 13, 2014

The Royal Shakespeare Company Releases Music From Its Archive

The Royal Shakespeare Company is releasing albums of the music commissioned for its productions of many of the plays in this first collected edition of William Shakespeare's works.
Leon Neal AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 10:14 am

For more than a century, the Royal Shakespeare Company in England has hired composers to write original music for its productions. That sheet music has sat in a vault for decades — until now.

The company has started releasing albums that combine music from its contemporary productions with much older works.

Bruce O'Neill, head of music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, describes the archive as "a bit like a bank vault."

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Ashland / Redding Theaters Included
9:20 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Met Opera HD Season Begins

Isabel Leonard as Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville.
Credit Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The 2014-15 season of opera performances, transmitted live in HD from the Metropolitan Opera stage, begins October 11th with Verdi’s masterful adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, starring Željko Lučić’s in the title role and Anna Netrebko as his mad and murderous mate Lady Macbeth. Adrian Noble’s chilling production also features Joseph Calleja as the noble Macduff and René Pape as Banquo.

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JPR Classics
7:21 am
Mon October 6, 2014

The Maestro And The Liberator: Gustavo Dudamel's Cinematic Debut

Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA Philharmonic since 2009, composed the score for the new Simón Bolívar biopic The Liberator.
Vern Evans Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 9:19 am

A film opened in the U.S. this weekend about the life of Simón Bolivar, the military leader who helped free much of Latin America from the Spanish Empire. Libertador, or The Liberator, tells that story with the help of rousing music by a first-time film-score composer: Gustavo Dudamel.

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JPR Classics
12:37 pm
Sun October 5, 2014

WATCH: Protesters Disrupt St. Louis Symphony With 'Requiem For Mike Brown'

Protesters unfurl banners during a performance of the St. Louis Symphony.
YouTube

Originally published on Sun October 5, 2014 2:59 pm

A Saturday performance of the St. Louis Symphony was disrupted by demonstrators protesting the killing of Michael Brown, the black, unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

"Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all," protesters sang, before asking the audience, "Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on?"

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JPR Classics
1:38 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Three Quick Lessons From The Violin Wunderkind Who Became A Master

"The key is to figure out what you're contributing," Joshua Bell says of playing chamber music.
Eric Kabik Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 3:30 pm

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JPR Classics
1:37 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Tuning Pianos In The Digital Age

Piano tuning courses are still taught at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. (Courtesy North Bennet Street School)

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 11:54 am

Does anyone tune pianos any more? And how?

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson went to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Mass., which offers nine-month courses in piano technology.

He met Debbie Cyr, who tunes instruments and also instructs students at the school. It turns out that there is still a demand for piano tuning as many of those who practice the profession decide to retire.

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