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Music Post: The prodigal composers of classical music

Classical music history is replete with cases where children showed composing and performing talent and were put before the public before reaching their teens. Sometimes, as with Mozart, a parent saw a meal ticket in prodigal talent; sometimes, as with Bach, instruction began early because music was the family business;…

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Music Post: South American composers on parade

Classical music in Latin America, like that of the United States, started as an extension of the European tradition, then was enriched by the folk music already to be heard on the ground. Modern classical music from Latin America tends to be as well-accepted worldwide as popular music from the…

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Music Post: Swedish composers on parade

A view of downtown Stockholm with a transit train in the foreground. Stockholm is a metro area of 2.2 million – all of Sweden, Europe’s third largest country, has a population of 10 million. The very late 1800s were a golden age for classical music not composed in Vienna or…

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Music Post: Swedish composers on parade

The very late 1800s were a golden age for classical music not composed in Vienna or Paris. Russian and Czech music were more widely performed outside of Russia, and even Germanocentric critics welcomed Grieg, Nielsen and Sibelius. Yet a century later most classical concert programs show little interest in Nordic…

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Music Post: The Renaissance of Temporarily Forgotten Music

Our sense of time is not the same as our measurement of time. Ten seconds in an automobile accident, seeing an oncoming vehicle and knowing you will collide, can be longer than 10 minutes listening to a bore. A half hour PowerPoint presentation lasts longer than three hours dining in…

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Music Post: Fugues of the Modern Age

Two things that inspire creative people are freedom and bondage. The best radio shows, for example, are free-ranging and unpredictable but still hew to a format. The best architecture displays art while still meeting the physical demands of the project. In classical music, the fugue has brought out the best in…

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Music Post: Minimalists Other Than Reich and Glass

Minimalism started in San Francisco, mostly, and the Sixties scene in San Francisco specifically spawned both Steve Reich and Philip Glass, so it’s understandable that we often regard Minimalism as an American thing. But all kinds of interesting Minimalist music has come out of Europe, and some American Minimalism has…

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Music Post: The soundtracks of video games

Video games have roots going back to the 1940s, when a “cathode ray tube amusement device” was patented by the chief engineer of the Dumont Television Network. “Tennis for Two” came in the 1950s and Pong in 1972. Most of us, however, were innocent of the existence of video games…

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Music Post: Music from the gardens of Spain

When we speak of classical music history, we speak mostly of Italy, Germany and France. When we discuss the roots of jazz, we speak mostly of America and Africa. Yet Jelly Roll Morton, breaking jazz down into component parts, said one was “the Spanish tinge.” And Spain has been an…

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Music Post: The nine or 10 members of “Les six”

Members of Les Six – Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric (not shown), Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, and Louis Durey, with their friend and promoter Jean Cocteau seated at the piano. On Jan. 8, 1920, at 4:30 p.m., according to Arthur Honegger’s diary, Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), then 27, had several young composer…