Music

Press Release: Melograni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

April 24, 2008
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Press Release: Melograni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

New in Paperback—Piero Melograni here offers a wholly readable account of Mozart’s remarkable life and times. This masterful biography proceeds from the young Mozart’s earliest years as a wunderkind—the child prodigy who traveled with his family to perform concerts throughout Europe—to his formative years in Vienna, where he absorbed the artistic and intellectual spirit of the Enlightenment, to his deathbed, his unfinished Requiem, and the mystery that still surrounds his burial. Read the press release. Also read an excerpt. . . .

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The monumental AACM

April 10, 2008
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The monumental AACM

In 1965 a group of Chicago musicians dedicated to exploring the frontiers of American jazz banded together to create the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians—one of the most radical and influential musical collectives in the history of the genre. Now, author George E. Lewis has chronicled the definitive history of the movement in, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, a book music critic Peter Margasak praises in today’s Chicago Reader for “ deeper into the formation and development of the AACM than any previous history, and as a formal acknowledgment of the group’s enormous importance and influence….” Margasak’s article continues: In the early 60s the marketplace was indifferent or hostile to creative jazz, and the AACM was the first sustained musician-run group to support it, producing legendary artists like Anthony Braxton, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Henry Threadgill. The organization remains active today, led by reedist Douglas Ewart and flutist Nicole Mitchell, and its members still display the fierce determination and brilliant creativity that made its name a seal of quality. And on Tuesday, April 15, 4:15 pm you’ll have a chance to see some of the AACM’s brilliant creativity yourself if . . .

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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

April 19, 2007
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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

Adding to the long list of positive reviews of Philip Gossett’s new book Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, in this month’s Literary Reviewcritic Patrick O’Connor rains his praise on Gossett’s extraordinary study of the Italian opera. O’Connor writes: a very personal and wide-ranging study of the great nineteenth-century Italian composers, and the problems and challenges facing those who decide to study their music beyond the available printed scores.… The depth and scope of Gossett’s book, on which he has been working for over twenty years, makes it one that will be of immense value to anyone approaching the subject of opera in the so-called age of bel-canto. Although the minute detail of some of the individual music examples he chooses may be beyond even the informed opera aficionado, he writes so clearly, and with such vigor, that the arguments about transpositions, cuts, translations and interpolations, take on something of the feel of detective work. And indeed Gossett’s work is both extensive enough to enthrall aficionados of Italian opera and passionate enough to captivate newcomers seeking a reliable introduction to it—in all its incomparable grandeur and timeless allure. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Harvey Sachs on 98.7 WFMT

February 22, 2007
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Harvey Sachs on 98.7 WFMT

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of conductor Arturo Toscanini, WFMT’s Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner will feature a two part conversation with Harvey Sachs, editor of The Letters of Arturo Toscanini, which we recently published in paperback. The first show airs on February 26 at 10:00 pm central time and the second on March 5 at the same time. If you’re in the Chicago area be sure to catch the show, if you’re not, WFMT offers streaming audio, but you’ll have to subscribe to listen. Fifty years after his death, Arturo Toscanini is still considered one of the greatest conductors in history, and probably the most influential. His letters, expertly collected, translated, and edited in The Letters of Arturo Toscanini, will give readers a new depth of insight into his life and work. As Sachs puts it, they “reveal above all else a man whose psychological perceptions in general and self-knowledge in particular were much more acute than most people have thought likely.” They are sure to enthrall anyone interested in learning more about one of the great lives of the twentieth century. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Phillip Gossett on 98.7 WFMT

January 8, 2007
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Phillip Gossett on 98.7 WFMT

Tonight—Monday, January 8—at 10 p.m. 98.7 WFMT Radio’s Critical Thinking with Andrew Patner will present the first of two programs with University of Chicago musicologist Philip Gossett discussing his new book Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera, illustrating his points on bel canto opera performance with musical extracts. The second program will air Monday, January 15, at 10 p.m. Divas and Scholars is a dazzling and beguiling account of how opera comes to the stage, filled with Philip Gossett’s personal experiences of triumphant—and even failed—performances and suffused with his towering and tonic passion for music. Writing as a fan, a musician, and a scholar, Gossett, the world’s leading authority on the performance of Italian opera, brings colorfully to life the problems, and occasionally the scandals, that attend the production of some of our most favorite operas. Read an excerpt. . . .

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Review: Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool

January 2, 2007
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Review: Gennari, Blowin’ Hot and Cool

In reviewing Blowing Hot and Cool: Jazz and its Critics for the December 17 issue of the Independent, jazz columnist Sholto Byrnes argues that “in the first century of jazz’s existence, it’s the critics who have articulated the arguments about where jazz is from, who it belongs to and where its boundaries lie. have been its historians and its definers.” And as the first academic exploration into the legacy of these critics and their powerful role in defining jazz, Byrnes’ review acknowledges John Gennari’s Blowin’ Hot and Cool as an essential contribution to the history of the music. Byrnes writes: is a valuable book, and a fascinating one, ranging from the the important role played by the critic John Hammond in promoting Benny Goodman and Bessie Smith in the 1930s, to the epic battles fought over the ‘Young Lions’ movement in the 1980’s. An original and comprehensive approach to jazz history, Gennari’s book will be appreciated by anyone wanting to know more about how modern culture has come to see one of America’s greatest musical traditions. Read an excerpt along with a soundtrack the author outlined to go with the book. . . .

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Review: Melograni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

December 18, 2006
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Review: Melograni, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is, of course, one of the most enduringly popular and celebrated composers to have ever lived. With this year marking the 250th anniversary of his birth his compositions remain some of the most frequently interpreted by orchestras worldwide. But what accounts for the perennial popularity of his work? Writing for Opera News Todd B. Sollis praises Pierro Melograni’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: A Biography for its keen insight into the enduring presence of Mozart’s music. Sollis writes: “Never able to secure the kind of well paid permanent court post that many of his contemporaries obtained—Mozart turned to the resources offered him by the consumer market. Melograni argues that in the process Mozart became the sublime composer we know.… Melograni demonstrates persuasively how the furnishes the composer with ‘new stimuli,’ assures his greater liberty, and opens the way to modernity in ways that enable him to occupy center stage on the musical scene even two and a half centuries after his .” Expertly analyzing Mozart’s genius and the social environment that allowed it to thrive, Melograni’s biography will be welcomed by anyone wanting a deeper understanding of one of the greatest artists ever . . .

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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

November 17, 2006
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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

Frankly, we don’t know what the late, great Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko thought about Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, or any of the other icons of Italian opera. (We’ll look through his collected columns.) But in a review of Philip Gossett’s Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera Marc Geelhoed from Time Out magazine draws a direct comparison between Gossett’ s first-hand account of the opera and Royko’s famously shrewd journalism. Geelhoed writes: Mike Royko had an instinctive love for the theory of how the deal went down, but what mattered most was seeing first hand how the theory played out in the real world. Musicologist Philip Gossett has spent his career at the University of Chicago, but his scholarship resides in the Royko school of street-smart reporting. Gossett isn’t content to leave a groaning shelf of unread books as his legacy; he’s gotten out into the Opera house and made a difference in the performing world. With Rossini’s operas in particular, opera houses have relied on Gossett’s expertise to coach singers and assist conductors with regard to style before a production opens. Opera lovers of all levels of musical knowledge should rejoice that his recollections are now available for their perusal. Enlivening . . .

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CBGB closes

October 18, 2006
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CBGB closes

CBGB, the legendary New York night club that spawned some of the most colorful icons of the punk genre—Patti Smith, Blondie, the Ramones—closed last Sunday, the end of an era in American music. Though the music may no longer be as loud as it was during the club’s heyday in the mid-seventies, the powerful influence of the club and the culture that surrounded it continues to permeate nearly every form of popular music today; even the more sophisticated echelons of the avant-garde. A listen to the hipster stylings of contemporary chamber musicians the Kronos Quartet is enough to demonstrate the profound ways that the world of modern art has enthusiastically assimilated the forms and conventions of punk rock. The collision between low-brow pop artists and the artistic avant-garde was the subject of Bernard Gendron’s 2002 book Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde. When we published Gendron’s book we posted an excerpt to our Web site focused on the first wave of punk that crested on CBGB’s dilapidated stage. The excerpt is an excellent introduction to the early history of CBGB, bands like the Ramones and Talking Heads, and the pop and/or art sensibilities that echoed . . .

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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

October 6, 2006
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Review: Gossett, Divas and Scholars

A recent review by virtuoso pianist and music critic Charles Rosen has much to say about Philip Gossett’s latest work, Divas and Scholars: Performing Italian Opera. Rosen writes for the New York Review of Books: “To my knowledge, there is no other book like it. No one else has treated an important genre of half a century in its social and political setting, its stylistic development, together with a detailed history of its dissemination and performance … Along with occasional indulgence in what the author calls ‘that backstage gossip indigenous to the opera house,’ all this is accomplished in a prose style sensible, often original, provocative, learned, technical but lucid, and always entertaining—and, most remarkably, in only 603 succinct pages.” The review continues: “The achievement was possible not only because Gossett is our leading authority on nineteenth-century Italian opera and the principle figure in establishing the new editions of Rossini and Verdi, but also because he has been actively engaged for some years as a consultant to productions of operas in Italy and America, advising on the problems created by the multiple versions that exist for most of these operas as they were rewritten for different singers in different cities, . . .

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