Dead White Guys

Bach-cropped

Bach-cropped

Mahler-cropped

Mahler-cropped

Ravel-cropped

Ravel-cropped

Beethoven-cropped

Beethoven-cropped

Dvorak-cropped

Dvorak-cropped

Stravinsky-cropped

Stravinsky-cropped

Brahms-cropped-2

Brahms-cropped-2

Rachmaninoff-cropped

Rachmaninoff-cropped

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Memoir of an Addiction

Until my mid-twenties, I thought the prospect of going to see a group of people dressed as penguins playing music by irrelevant dead white guys was tantamount to watching grey paint dry on a cloudy day. But as I grew bored with pop music and the three-minute format, I decided to look for something more.

My mom was an ethnomusicologist, so exotic music was very much part of my childhood. But save ballet, she didn’t have any interest in the western classics. I prided myself on being open to different genres, so my music collection ran the gamut from soul to deep purple to weirder stuff like the flying lizards and early Adam and the Ants.

I thought the 3 classical recordings I had – Chopin waltzes, Copland and Ravel hits (pretty good makeout music) – would be the only ones I ever needed. But then I got struck by lightning when I heard the overture to the Force of Destiny by Verdi, which completely blew my mind. I guess I was in the right space to really listen to it. So I wanted to know more about this art form, especially when I discovered that it encompassed history and culture and politics and technology.

A thousand years worth of material. Amazonia! I’ve been exploring this realm for over 30 years and I’m still discovering new tributaries and new vistas.

This website is designed for the person I was; filled with curiosity, yet not knowing a sonata from a frittata.


Recent Musings

Review: First Time Back at the Symphony – 32nd Season Begins

First symphony concerts of the 2022 season. The orchestra is in very fine form with new music director Esa-Pekka Salonen. The new programming employs a terrific balance of war horses, obscure classics and emerging composers.

Essential Composers: Haydn is the Most Underrated “Great” Composer

Essential Composers: Haydn is the Most Underrated “Great” Composer

A life in music from age 6. Member of the Vienna Boys Choir until his voice broke. Respected as an innovator of the Symphony and the father of the String Quartet, but infrequently performed or given a dedicated festival. He wrote tons of music for all sorts of ensembles as court composers did, performing managerial…
Essential Composers: Bach is THE Essential Composer

Essential Composers: Bach is THE Essential Composer

A really good place to start. He wrote for almost every genre except opera. The textbook nature of his music means that everybody who comes after has learned from it.his well-tempered clavier is literally a textbook you can listen to again and again and hear something new.  In Bach, you’ll find every aspect of musicianship: energy,…
Review: Salonen Ushers in a New Era of Mahler Interpretation

Review: Salonen Ushers in a New Era of Mahler Interpretation

San Francisco has become a Mahler orchestra of global note. Often, and successfully, a conductor picks a sensible tempo and the music proceeds more or less down the white water. Salonen’s river is a little calmer at points and might drift towards a tide pool, and that’s ok. There’s an exaggeratedness in Mahler that often gets…