Music

Was Johannes Brahms as sweet and comforting as the lullaby that bears his name? Actually, as conductor Manfred Honeck told the New York Times, “There was nothing cozy about Brahms.” He never had students in the formal sense. Brahms’s manner was described as “not encouraging,” when younger composers would beg for his attentions. But Antonin Dvorak didn’t have to beg. Read More
Many of us admire our musical idols from afar - maybe through keepsakes like concert ticket stubs, autographs or posters taped to our walls. Marin Alsop had two posters up in her New York City bedroom growing up - one of the Beatles and the other of the man who inspired her to become a conductor - Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein ended up becoming more than the man on her Read More
William Shakespeare - author of deeply romantic prose, particularly memorable and witty dialogue, 27 plays and 375 poems. He also stood as inspiration for many an opera, overture and incidental music. There’s a lot to love about ‘The Bard,’ and NWPB rose to the task of picking some favorites in honor of his birthday - April 23. Read More
Vivaldi’s "Spring" is one of the most recognizable, best loved works in the world and one of the best ways to celebrate the season. Vivaldi penned his famous quartet of concertos, The Four Seasons or Le quattro stagioni, between the late 1710s and early 1720s. Each concerto includes an accompanying sonnet of unknown origin (a classic case of “which came first – the Read More
Unlike his contemporaries, Britten did not devote much of his time to writing symphonies. It’s no wonder that when he *did* sit down to write his Spring Symphony, it resulted in a grand journey in 4 parts and 12 movements, harnessing the power of mixed chorus, boys’ choir, soprano, alto and tenor soloists and a massive orchestra including harp, tambourine and cow horn. Read More
Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel got a much needed breath of fresh air and a boost of musical inspiration from a year-long Italian trip in 1840. Mendelssohn-Hensel, her husband and their young son spent the entire year away from their home of Berlin and vacationing throughout Italy - stopping in Rome and Venice to take in the vast musical inspiration. Read More
The chamber music impresaria Toby Saks became a legend in the music life of the Pacific Northwest. She began her career in New York: she earned awards as a teenage cellist; she played in the New York Philharmonic in her 20s. She moved out west to join the faculty of the University of Washington School of Music, and soon gathered a group of classical music supporters to Read More
The conductor Mary Terey-Smith made music history here in the Pacific Northwest, as a result of a political revolution half a world away. This Hungarian-born music talent, student of Kodaly at the legendary Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, hadn’t been out in the working world very long when the 1956 Hungarian Revolution turned her into a refugee. Read More
You’ve heard so much about the sons of Johann Sebastian Bach, but there were daughters, too. Bach was 23, and his wife Maria Barbara was 24, when the first of their children was born. They named her Catherina Dorothea. CD grew into a singer, and helped out in her father’s music work. Fifteen years passed, her mother died, her father remarried, and finally, CD Bach Read More
Barbara Strozzi changed the face of vocal music with her stunning and emotional song collections.  Born to a famous poet and librettist, she was encouraged to follow her artistic talents from an early age and received a musical education from other famous Italian composers.  Strozzi wasn’t afraid to experiment. She made a big name herself in the 17th century, Read More
Louise Farrenc inspired the world and demanded what she deserved - something we can all aspire to.  A musician, composer and teacher ahead of her time, she gained fame as an incredible performer, wrote award winning music and taught at the Paris conservatory for 30 years as the only woman on staff in the 19th century.  Read More
As pianist Mahani Teave was poised to launch her international career, she remembered the moment when the first piano arrived on her remote island. It was 1992, she was nine years old and the instrument landed on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island as it was named by Europeans. Best known for its mysterious, sentinel-like stone statues, the island lies some 2000 miles off the coast Read More
Maestra Margriet Tindemans made history as a performer of early music. The Pacific Northwest was her home for the final three decades of her influential career, but she started as a child violinist in a 1950s European youth orchestra. Born in the Netherlands, Tindemans developed mastery on all manner of medieval, renaissance and baroque string instruments, adding her Read More
Symphony Tacoma’s Sarah Ioannides is making history. Her Arrival in Tacoma in 2014 as the orchestra’s first woman music director brought Symphony Tacoma into what its calling “the era of Sarah.” Her energetic work on and off the podium has powered Symphony Tacoma into partnerships and performances expanding access to students and audiences beyond the historic Pantages Read More
All the lights in the house would go dark. The wait staff would turn still. The audience, often largely white, would either wait, in discomfort, or leave, knowing what was to come. On stage, a single spotlight illuminated the jazz artist’s face. And then Holiday, the glamorous jazz singer, would end her set with “Strange Fruit,” a song of protest against lynchings. There Read More
Candles and books rest on a trunk at the bottom right corner of the wide shot. There, too, are special photographs of alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins with family in his childhood home in Philadelphia. "One of the brightest things about this pandemic was going home to spend time with my mother, father and grandmother after being on the road for a while," Wilkins told NPR Read More
Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" has long been offered as an "alternative national anthem," performed by musicians from Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger to Chicano Batman and Sharon Jones. Its message seems fairly simple — we are all equally entitled to the rights of this country, including the land we stand on. But Native Americans will just as soon point out Read More
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