The Power of Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites”

By |2019-06-15T11:36:20-05:00June 14th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Opera, Senior Contributors|

Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” is based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a community of sixteen Carmelite nuns who were guillotined during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Many hold it in high esteem as one of the twentieth century’s greatest operas. Francis Poulenc The Metropolitan Opera’s [...]

The Sound of a Summer Symphony: Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite”

By |2019-06-07T12:30:57-05:00June 5th, 2019|Categories: Christine Norvell, Culture, Music|

Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite” communicates an infectious passion for the beauty of the Canyon, especially the allure of the composer’s magnificent first impressions. His pictorial orchestration is emotional but that does not imply simplicity. It is a strength that welcomes and holds listeners of every age. Emblazoned with striking black and white titles, [...]

Killing Kate Smith

By |2019-05-24T11:06:36-05:00May 19th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Modernity, Music|

Kate Smith’s version of “God Bless America” moved the hearts of listeners worldwide. Yet, she is now being “investigated” for potentially racist lyrics, as if she committed a crime worthy of being prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials. Let us hope that we can make a stand to defend those who represent beauty, truth, and [...]

Slipping Inside Fauré’s Nocturne No. 4

By |2019-05-12T00:06:31-05:00May 11th, 2019|Categories: Beauty, Culture, Europe, Music|

Falling in love with French composer Gabriel Fauré’s Nocturne No. 4 wasn’t one of those thunderclap experiences. It crept up on me, gradually. I’d been listening to this Fauré Nocturne CD for almost a decade, mostly as I drove, and enjoying the music’s understated elegance and beauty. Then, this past year, something clicked with [...]

Stravinsky’s Other Rite of Spring: “Perséphone”

By |2019-05-11T09:23:26-05:00May 10th, 2019|Categories: Christianity, Culture, Igor Stravinsky, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

One of my favorite musical works about spring is by Igor Stravinsky, but it’s not the one you would expect—the wild and primal Rite of Spring. Rather it’s his stage piece Perséphone, set to words by the French poet André Gide and retelling through song, ballet, and spoken narration the Greek myth explaining the [...]

Seeking the Humane: Big Big Train’s “Grand Tour”

By |2019-05-09T22:58:30-05:00May 9th, 2019|Categories: Bradley J. Birzer, Culture, Europe, Music, Senior Contributors|

On its new album, Grand Tour, Big Big Train considers everything from the NASA ship Voyager's leaving the solar system, to the nineteenth-century romantic interpretation of The Tempest, to the meaning of one of the greatest saints of late antiquity, St. Theodora. The album really is about human exploration of self and of world. There [...]

Berlioz in Hell: “The Damnation of Faust”

By |2019-05-29T08:35:21-05:00April 18th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Stephen M. Klugewicz|

"You see," Hector Berlioz said to a friend after enumerating his torments. "It's diabolical isn't it? I mean, it's once tragic and grotesque. I said I deserved to go to hell... but I'm there!" Indeed, Hector Berlioz was the archetype of the tortured Romantic soul: a professed atheist who yet felt the pull of his [...]

Mass of Notre Dame

By |2019-04-15T23:17:07-05:00April 15th, 2019|Categories: Catholicism, Music|

Editor's Note: Guillaume de Machaut's Messe de Notre Dame (Mass of Our Lady) is the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer and was written for performance at the great Cathedral of Our Lady of Reims in France. The following description comes from the website of the Boston [...]

Music for Holy Week and Easter

By |2019-04-14T21:54:10-05:00April 14th, 2019|Categories: Antonio Vivaldi, Culture, Hector Berlioz, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz, Timeless Essays|

Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords our readers the opportunity to join Stephen Klugewicz, as he provides musical suggestions for listening during Holy Week and the Easter season. —W. Winston Elliott III, Publisher Though Handel’s Messiah rightly reigns supreme as the king of music for Easter, there are many other seasonal masterpieces [...]

Composers and Wine

By |2019-04-11T22:23:27-05:00April 11th, 2019|Categories: Character, Culture, History, Music|

As a wine professional and classically trained musician, I’ve always wanted to know if wine was important in the lives of the great composers. Did Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven enjoy wine daily? Did they keep a cellar? Did they write about the wines they drank? I’ve never been able to find much about the [...]

Paul Hindemith’s “Life of Mary”

By |2019-04-01T11:25:30-05:00March 30th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Despite all its intellectual rigor, Paul Hindemith’s Life of Mary is a very approachable piece of twentieth-century vocal music. I can think of no other work that treats the totality of Mary’s life, including episodes that even the most devout rarely think about. A giant among 20th-century composers, Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) went from an [...]