Category Archives: Music

COLE PORTER:  COMPOSER OF THE WEEK (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 4) ·

 

Listen at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04brk6s

He was one of the most famous Broadway composers of his time, and many of his songs remain popular today, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Cole Porter. On his deathbed, Porter said to a close friend, “I don’t know how I did it”. His remarkable achievements include a huge catalogue of witty, sophisticated, and sometimes risqué songs, plus a raft of successful shows like Anything Goes, Can-Can and, his most popular musical, Kiss Me Kate. The opulence of these lavish productions was matched by Porter’s glamorous lifestyle; the parties were legendary, and his apartment at the Waldorf Hotel was photographed for Vogue magazine. Yet there were parts of his life that Cole Porter needed to shield from public view; he lived at a time when being gay was not considered acceptable.

Cole Porter was born in Peru, Indiana, where his father ran a drugstore. His maternal grandfather was something of a tyrant, but also one of the richest men in the state. It was Porter’s mother, Katie, who encouraged her son in music, and she who published his first song, from 1901. 

Porter scraped through his college years, graduating in 1913. His mind was on other things than his education, including the composition of four musicals and over one hundred songs. Porter was refining his ability to write witty patter songs, including I’ve a Shooting Box in Scotland from 1916, and When I Had a Uniform On, also known as the Demobilisation Song.

Cole Porter’s activities during the First World War are somewhat sketchy. He journeyed to France where he acquired a number of uniforms, including a colonel’s which he wore with total disregard for the regulations. In Paris, Porter held a number of lavish parties, and it was there that he met the American divorcee who would become his wife.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY: A SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT SPOILER ALERT   ·

 

(Christ Jordan’s article appeared on app., 9/28; via the Drudge Report.)  

So Bruce Springsteen of Freehold, whose “Springsteen on Broadway” begins previews  Tuesday, Oct. 3, and opens Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, should feel right at home.

“He’s the greatest living storyteller because of how he connected with everyone at his shows, all the way to the last row” said Matt Pinfield,  former host of MTV’s “120 Minutes” and author of the new book “All These Things That I’ve Done: My Insane, Improbable Rock Life.” “There’s such a human element with his storytelling and his songs. He’s always been able to tell stories in between songs, that in itself is an art form.

(Read more)

http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/music/2017/09/28/bruce-springsteen-broadway-spirit-night/704050001/

SIR TIM RICE DISCUSSES MUSIC AND HIS MUSICALS (LISTEN NOW ON BBC RADIO 3–LINK BELOW) ·

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05sxy5j

Tim Rice has written the lyrics for some of the most successful musicals of our generation: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat … Jesus Christ Superstar … Evita … For 45 years he has been creating hit songs, collaborating first and famously with Andrew Lloyd Webber, then with Abba, Elton John, Freddy Mercury and Madonna. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, thanks to the success of his songs in Disney movies The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. A three-time Oscar winner, he has been knighted for services to music.

In Private Passions, he talks to Michael Berkeley about the process of lyric-writing, about why it’s an extraordinary experience to work with Elton John, and about what it is that makes a successful song lyric. He also reveals that his early ambition was to be a pop star, and that he started out as a singer – in fact, he recorded a single.

Music choices include a satirical operetta by Offenbach, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony, The Swan of Tuonela by Sibelius, Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture and Britten’s arrangement of the folk song The Plough Boy. And Tim Rice ends by revealing which is his favourite musical of all – music his father introduced him to as a boy: My Fair Lady.

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Production for BBC Radio 3.

Photo: D23.com

 

JOHN CAGE’S GIFT TO US ·

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(Tim Page’s article appeared in The New York Review of Books, 10/27.)

There are certain creative figures whose mature works are almost tangential to their enduring artistic influence. Marcel Duchamp falls into this group, as does Andy Warhol. And so, certainly, does John Cage (1912–1992). He opened doors—floodgates, really—and dissolved definitions; if most of his own compositions now seem less interesting than the ramifications of his ideas, there can be little doubt that his oceanic spirit changed the topography.

It is fitting, perhaps, that the son of a Los Angeles inventor should have attracted initial public attention with his own homemade instrument—the “prepared piano,” a standard-issue piano transfigured with the help of nut bolts, screws, erasers, rubber bands, and other material placed between its strings. Described so dryly, the idea calls to mind some sort of Dada stunt (“C’mon kids, let’s see what we can squeeze into this piano!”), but the resulting sound was specific, exotic, and euphonious, a percussion orchestra in a box.

A 1943 concert at the Museum of Modern Art made Cage famous—and controversial. “About forty kinds of instruments were employed, ranging from thunder sheets and a ‘string piano’ to cowbells, flower pots and even an audio-frequency generator,” Noel Straus reported in The New York Times. “But practically all the ‘music’ produced by the various combinations of them had an inescapable resemblance to the meaningless sounds made by children amusing themselves by banging on tin pans and other resonant kitchen utensils.”

(Read more)

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/10/27/john-cages-gift-to-us/

Photo: University of Utah

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NETREBKO AND HVOROSTOVSKY TO DEBUT AT BOLSHOI THEATER IN NEW SEASON ·

(Olga Svistunova’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 9/16.)

The Bolshoi’s new season will see Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky perform in the theater’s own productions for the first time, while the opera premieres include David Alden’s staging of Benjamin Britten’s “Billy Budd” with the English National Opera.

The Bolshoi Theater has announced the premieres and guest star performers that will grace its new season – including “debuts” at the theater for two of opera’s greatest names.

The parade of opera premieres at the Bolshoi Theater will open on Oct. 16 with Manon Lescaut on the Historic Stage. The Puccini opera will be staged by director Adolf Shapiro. The conductor's stand will be taken by Italian maestro Jader Bignamini, while the title part will be performed by Anna Netrebko.

It is the first time that she will take part in one of the theater’s productions, so for the famous diva it will be a kind of debut at the Bolshoi, said general director Vladimir Urin, adding that such "debuts" are also planned for other opera stars in the upcoming season.

http://rbth.com/arts/theatre/2016/09/16/netrebko-and-hvorostovsky-to-debut-at-bolshoi-theater-in-new-season_630521

STREISAND UPDATE: 11TH NO. 1 ALBUM ON BILLBOARD 200 CHART WITH ‘ENCORE’ ·

  

(Keith Caulfield’s article appeared on Billboard; via the Drudge Report and Pam Green.)

The icon extends her record as the woman with the most No. 1 albums in chart history.

Barbra Streisand achieves her 11th No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as her latest release, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, enters atop the list.

Her newest leader extends her record for the most No. 1 albums among women, and ties her with Bruce Springsteen for the third-most among all acts. The only artists with more No. 1s are The Beatles, with a record 19 chart-toppers, andJay Z, with 13.

Among women, Streisand outpaces Madonna, the runner-up with eight Billboard 200 No. 1s.

(Read more)

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7495997/barbra-streisand-earns-11th-no-1-album-on-billboard-200-album-chart

OPERA STARTUPS: SMALL COMPANIES IN NEW YORK TAKE ON THE MET ·

(Alex Ross’s article appeared in the New Yorker, 4/4.)

Last year, the British critic Philip Clark had a provocative response to the perennial question of how to save classical music from its so-called image problem—the perception that it is stuffy, élitist, and irrelevant. He declared, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with classical music. It cannot pretend to be anything other than it is. And perhaps it’s the wider cultural environment . . . that has a problem.”

I don’t accept Clark’s entire argument. Certain of classical music’s difficulties are self-created: ossified concert norms, brain-dead programming, a pervasive fear of the new. Yet his principal point holds. Endless chatter about the need to reinvent the art is symptomatic of a deep-seated hostility toward fundamental features of the concert experience: the extended duration of works, the complexity of their construction, the attention they demand. There is no shame in the fact that classical music has trouble adapting to a marketplace dominated by celebrity worship and by the winner-take-all economy for which celebrity serves as a seductive symbol.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/04/operatic-startups-take-on-the-met