Analysis

Appropriate Conduct? The Maestro in America in the Year 2001

Brian WisePhoto by Melissa Richard As American orchestras come to terms with dwindling, aging audiences, music directors are increasingly called upon to roll up their sleeves and develop bolder, more inventive ways of awakening the public’s appetite for orchestral music. The image of the Great Maestro – the heroic, omnipotent and often tyrannical conjurer who […]

The Form Without a Name: American Music Theater

Barry DroginPhoto by Lindsay Drogin Here’s a frustrating parlor game: Come up with a term for the form that includes the operas of Gian Carlo Menotti, the musicals of Leonard Bernstein, the dance-theater of Meredith Monk, the music-theater of Robert Ashley, and such hard to classify works as Porgy and Bess, Four Saints in Three […]

More Than a Coin Toss: Improvisation vs. Composition in Jazz

Howard MandelPhoto by Melissa Richard Improvisation and composition are two sides of one coin alloyed in the medium of form. At least it’s how it is in jazz — though maybe a coin is too static an image for anything so dynamic as music or so fluid as the relationship of improvisation and composition. Not […]

Four Quartets

Frederick KaimannPhoto by Melissa Richard Entering history on the ground floor is an exciting thing, but over time new floors get added beneath as you’re jacked high above the street where you entered. Eventually the hot dog vendors and beggars forget what you look like even if you’re, say, ridiculously fat. So it goes with […]

Americana Arcana: What is the Most-Performed American Classical Music?

Bradley BambargerPhoto by Melissa Richard There is no doubt that American composers have come a long way since Dvorák admonished them to stop mimicking Europe and come up with a distinctly native form of expression. Yet determining just who are the most popularly successful (i.e., the most frequently performed) American composers on their home soil […]

Whatever Happened To Supermarket Music?

Joseph Lanza Whatever happened to supermarket music? There was a time – not very long ago – when one could stroll through the aisles of an A&P or a Safeway while violins, pianos, guitars, harps and trumpets played soft instrumental versions of old standards and current hits. These ceiling serenades offered the musical equivalent to […]

Intellectual Property: Whose Song is it Anyway?

Heidi WalesonPhoto by Melissa Richard Intellectual property has been a locus of debate for centuries. The difficulties of establishing standards for its ownership and exploitation stem from the fact that such property is not tangible, but rather the expression of the human mind and spirit. What is more, most creations of this kind can only […]

Smoke and Mirrors: Mr. Smith Returns to Washington

Photo of Ken Smithin front of “Smoke Free” (1999){cigarette butts and wood, 45″x67″}by John Salvest(courtesy Rudolph Projects)Photo by Melissa Richard A former political journalist turned music critic offers up a HyperHistory uncovering “smoke and mirrors” politics in the American classical music business. My name is Ken. I’m a recovering addict. I can trace my awareness […]

BETWEEN U S: A HyperHistory of American Microtonalists

Twelve-tone equal temperament, as this common tuning is called, is a 20th-century phenomenon, a blandly homogenous tuning increasingly imposed on all the world’s musics in the name of scientific progress. In short, twelve-tone equal temperament is to tuning what the McDonald’s hamburger is to food.

On the Money: New Music Funding in the United States

Theodore WiprudPhoto by Melissa Richard Think “new music,” and chances are, whatever you mean by “new music” does not earn its keep. Fortunately, there is more to musical life than earned income. That’s because in the United States there exists a highly developed world of nonprofit institutions, and a tax code that encourages their support […]

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