JPR Classics

Classical music posts.

The album might be called In the Light of Air, but it's anything but conventionally light or airy. Instead, this rumbling, evocative music by composer Anna Thorvaldsdottír seems grounded deep in the beautifully austere landscapes of her native Iceland. Don't listen too hard for hummable melodies. While there are flashes of lyrical writing, the composer excels at weaving sound textures together to create distinct atmospheres.

'Summertime' In Hanoi

Aug 24, 2015

Summer might be winding down, but you couldn't tell by the steamy temperatures, not only in much of the U.S. but also in Hanoi, where Vietnamese performer and composer Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ grew up — and where it should top out around 92 degrees today.

A beautiful ballerina and a handsome prince are at the heart of the world's most famous ballets. Sleeping Beauty. Swan Lake. The Nutcracker, of course.

And at training grounds for future dancers, plenty of girls hope to someday wear the prima ballerina's tutu.

But it's become a challenge to find the boys who will one day form the other half of the pas de deux.

'Cooties And Stuff'

The list of its faculty and students is a who's who of 20th-century music: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas.

An anxious, awkward teenager, social media, suicide. These are the themes at play in a new musical at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The production has garnered praise from both the New York Times ("sweet, sad and quite moving") and the Washington Post (which said it "radiates charm and wit)." They're not the only ones buzzing about it — this play about human behavior in the digital age will head to New York's Second Stage Theater next spring.

Mary Jo Heath, who has worked as producer and guest host for the Met over the past nine seasons, will become the fourth full-time radio host in the company’s history this September.

Aoife O’Donovan grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. She spent her school-year summers in Ireland singing songs with her extended family, and became interested in American folk music through artists such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Aoife went on to study contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Humpback whales don't just sing songs — they compose with the whales around them, singing a song that evolves over time. Scientists didn't know that until they started recording whale sounds in the 1960s and spent years listening. The evolution of this "culture of listening" among researchers is the focus of Morning Edition's weekly summer series, Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound.

The denouement of a 35-year drama takes place Thursday at the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. And I trust that my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago, will be watching from somewhere.

For decades he played his beloved Stradivarius violin all over the world. And then one day, he turned around and it was gone. Stolen.

While he was greeting well-wishers after a concert, it was snatched from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

The discovery of a 1922 version of Happy Birthday means that the 1935 copyright is no longer valid.

Deborah O’Grady

During the Britt Classical Festival, JPR hosted special pre-concert conversations in the Performance Garden with Britt soloists, guests, and orchestral members.

On Saturday, August 1st 2015, JPR's Eric Teel talked with Camden Shaw and Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt of the Dover Quartet, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams about the quartet's mindset when performing the music of a composer in attendance, and Mr. Adams' thoughts on his place in the continuum of classical music.

It's a story that could have been taken from a breaking news report: A soldier, gravely wounded in a brutal battle, flees the fighting to try and make his way home. Only this story is set during the Civil War.

The Metropolitan Opera is poised to make a big change.

When the fall production of Verdi's Otello opens next month, its lead character will not be wearing the traditional blackface-style makeup.

The Met tells NPR by email that its upcoming production of Otello will be the first without dark makeup since the company first produced the opera in 1891.

A Mahler Symphony Squeezed In A Squeezebox

Aug 4, 2015

When Gustav Mahler said a symphony "must be like the world. It must embrace everything," I suppose he meant embracing accordions, too.

Gustav Mahler's sprawling Ninth Symphony is a 90-minute journey brimming with the joys of life, haunted by death and with a lot happening along the way. Accordionist William Schimmel has squeezed this immense musical canvas down to just 6 1/2 minutes. That takes some guts.

Sound Design: The Art Of The Album Cover

Jul 30, 2015

Calling all design geeks and fans of cool album art! Check out this thing we made.

It tells the story of graphic designer Denise Burt and her album covers. Read about her process, see the art — and hear the music that inspired her.

Shortly after Burt moved to Copenhagen in 2000, she landed a job creating album covers for Denmark's Dacapo Records. Trouble was, she didn't know a thing about the contemporary classical music the label specialized in.

Unassuming Czech Pianist Ivan Moravec Dies At 84

Jul 28, 2015

Ivan Moravec, a Czech pianist known for his lyrical and selfless approach to music, died Monday in a Prague hospital, according to a management representative, Linda Marder of CM Artists in New York. Moravec had been treated for pneumonia. He was 84.

Song Of A Haunted Childhood

Jul 28, 2015

Even the clearest recollections from childhood tend to be coauthored by time and imagination. Looking back on early memories, fun or frightening, we know the mind can play tricks on itself. Did everything happen exactly as our adult brains remember?

One Feisty Victorian Woman's Opera Revived

Jul 24, 2015

Ethel Smyth was not your typical Victorian lady. She defied her father, a stern army general, to pursue a career in music. She loved women, played sports and played an important role in the women's suffrage movement in Britain in the early 20th century. Along the way she composed chamber and orchestral music, an acclaimed Mass and six operas.

The board of directors for the Astoria Music Festival has resigned, as first reported by The Daily Astorian, citing unresolved differences over the festival’s future in a statement given to OPB.

The eight outgoing board members and the managing director, Carol Shepherd, said they are leaving in order to allow artistic director and festival co-founder Keith Clark to take the lead in developing the organization’s structure.

Cuban dancers and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, founded by Alicia Alonso, are known all over the world. Now that diplomatic relations have been restored between the United States and Cuba, opening the island up for more cultural exchange, what will that mean for Cuba’s ballet scene?

Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti spoke with José Manuel Carreño, a Cuban-born former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, who is now artistic director of Silicon Valley Ballet, based in San Jose.

Pages