JPR Classics

Classical music posts.

Kurt Masur, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic, died Saturday from complications from Parkinson's disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Conn. His death was announced by the New York Philharmonic.

Our 10 Favorite Classical Albums Of 2015

Dec 17, 2015

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Amid the ubiquitous din of annual chestnuts like "Jingle Bells" and "Let it Snow," you may be surprised to learn that people are actually writing new holiday songs. And as it turns out, some of them are pretty great.

A New Music Journey From The U.S. To Havana

Dec 10, 2015

When you think of Cuban music, contemporary classical most likely isn't the first — or possibly even fifth — genre that springs to mind. But a group of American composers and musicians couldn't resist an opportunity to travel to the island to present their own music and seek out their Cuban colleagues' work — and frankly, neither could I. We traveled together last month to the Havana Festival of Contemporary Music, for the event's 28th edition.

Jean Sibelius, born 150 years ago on Dec. 8, 1865, was the first Finnish composer to reach an international audience, but his popularity began at home. In the late 1890s, Finland was a part of the Russian empire and its people were striving for independence.

Cameron Carpenter plays the organ in a way you'll rarely hear in church. He travels with his instrument on a huge truck, and it takes a small team to set it up in concert halls around the world. A virtuoso composer and performer who plays everything from Bach to pop, not to mention the first organist ever to be Grammy-nominated for a solo album, Carpenter says his connection to the instrument goes back even further than his interest in music.

On December 7th at 10am, JPR's Classics & News Service is proud to kick off the Metropolitan Opera's 85th season of Saturday broadcasts with Puccini's La Boheme. This year, all broadcasts begin at 10am.

In the new movie Youth, an elderly, retired composer-conductor is called upon to conduct for the first time in years. He's an Englishman named Fred Ballinger — and the request is from Queen Elizabeth II. It seems Ballinger's composition Simple Songs, written when he was a much younger man, is the only thing the Queen's husband, Prince Phillip, will listen to.

Beginning Sunday evening, January 3rd at 7pm, JPR's Classics & News Service will begin a new series of special programs called Shanghai Spring.

Teddy Abrams: Tiny Desk Concert

Nov 30, 2015

If we're relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.

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On a long drive, Itzhak Perlman will sometimes listen to classical music on the radio and try to guess who's playing.

"There is always a question mark," he says. "If it's good, boy, I hope it's me. If it's bad, I hope it's not me."

Instead of marking a half century with a few of her greatest hits from the ballet, Broadway or modern dance, the woman who has transformed dance in our time is on the road with two new pieces. Twyla Tharp says Preludes and Fugues, set to music by Bach, is "the world as it ought to be," and a jazz piece called Yowzie shows "the world as it is."

At 74 years old, Tharp is lean, limber and silver as a greyhound, with unblinking brown eyes behind round, owlish glasses.

When she thinks a question is wrong, silly or just obvious, she corrects it.

When the opera Appomattox premiered in 2007, it put on stage a piece of history that was more than 140 years old.

But creators Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton recently decided the story wasn't over.

When the Washington National Opera wanted to stage the opera, Glass said it needed a rewrite — to reflect what's happened in the U.S. since the premiere.

"In the last seven or eight years there have been profound and really horrific changes in the way this country understands itself," Glass says.

John Adams Mines Beethoven's Mind

Nov 10, 2015

All composers have obsessions. For John Adams, a composer who decidedly broke with the past, that obsession is Beethoven, as heard in the new album Absolute Jest.

You don't often hear "football" and "bel canto" in the same sentence. How about the same opera?

Richard Strauss' Musical Mountain Climb

Oct 28, 2015

Up until this year, composer John Williams had scored every single Steven Spielberg movie, save one, since the director's big-screen debut in 1974. In a storied collaboration that has lasted decades, they've worked together on films like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones and Schindler's List.

That streak comes to an end this weekend, though, with the release of Spielberg's new Cold War drama, Bridge of Spies. The movie, the director's 28th feature film, is only the second he's made without the help of Williams.