Wolfgang Sawallisch died Friday at the age of 89. I confess to have been working under the assumption that he had died years ago. Because conducting is often something that people at the highest levels do until they’re extremely fucking old (or extremely fucking dead in some cases), it’s unusual to think of a world-class maestro “retiring” to the Bavarian Alps and just chilling and playing piano and shit. But that’s exactly what Sawallisch did – his last major gig was with the Philadelphia Orchestra, which ended in 2003 and he retired “officially” in 2006 – something that, as I reflect upon that unbelievably relaxed cardigan/tie combo and wry smile, seems totally reasonable, ill health or otherwise. Continue reading
It’s been a long, strange gap between top 10 lists here at Everything But the Music, mostly because I like to tell myself that I’m busy and don’t have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to writing. The truth is that I’m lazy and these are a lot of work to compile, fun as they may be. At any rate, with the incredible success the previous lists enjoyed (tens of page views!), I figured now was as good a time as any to dive back in and give the fans what they want, or perhaps the exact opposite of what they want depending on your viewpoint. Without further ado, here it is: the definitive, inarguable list of the ten best symphonies numbered 2. Continue reading
Yesterday, for the first time in God knows how long, the weather in Kansas City was palatable. It was so palatable, in fact, that I decided to wander the streets with no real purpose or intention. I took my headphones, my wallet, and an appalling sense of fashion and set off from my apartment in Midtown. Here are five things I learned on my journey:
2011 wasn’t just a year to hear new performances and recordings, it was also a great time to get to know some older shit that perhaps had slipped under my personal radar for a long time. You never know what is going to capture your attention, but when something grabs you you just hold onto it as tight as you can, like you would your children in a thunderstorm or a fake 38DD breast in the cordoned-off area behind the bar because I mean you already paid for two drinks plus the $40 for the actual dance and Jesus can’t I just touch the damn thing. Sequitir. Continue reading
With the new year rapidly approaching, and by rapidly approaching I mean here already, every publication, news program, radio show, and 16-year-old-girl’s diary are presenting their annual “The Year in ______” lists. I wish I had the kind of job where I could make a credible “The Year in Music” list, but I don’t and I’m not entirely sure I ever will. But I can make a “My Year in Music” list and nobody can really say shit about it because the word “my” is right there in the title. What to put in my list? I will likely include discussions of superlative performances and recordings in a mock-awards format in which no actual prizes will be given away or even considered for that matter, with the exception of the sheer prestige of being acknowledged by this blog. Perhaps I will include some random thoughts about things that don’t have anything to do with this year. Most importantly, I will bring a whiff of nostalgia and a smile to my own face thinking back on what was, even as I realize that I continue to march inexorably toward the brittle and cold embrace of death. Anyway, over the next little while, I’ll be presenting the first and quite possibly last annual Everything But the Music Awards in this space. Here we go!
Juanjo Mena will be succeeding one of my favorite conductors, Gianandrea Noseda, as the Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic beginning with the 2011-2012 season. His was a name I had seen on the internets, but his was not a conductor whose work I had seen or heard. Judging by the exciting performance he led with the Kansas City Symphony this past weekend (and by the fact that he will be conducting the orchestra affiliated with a broadcasting organization based out of a town called Media City UK), it is likely I will hear from him again. Continue reading
Continuing what has magically turned into a series that I didn’t intend to start, we’re counting down the 10 Best Symphonies no. 3. The field is more crowded than ever, probably uncomfortably so. I had a hell of a time sifting through all these amazing works, and some pieces that I really love got left off altogether. The most interesting trend I noticed in compiling this list was the startling amount of quality Symphonies no. 3 by American composers; it is very clearly a lucky number. Ives, Copland, Schuman, Rorem, Harris, Bernstein, Cowell, Diamond, Ward, Glass, Hanson, Hovhaness, Mennin, and Sessions all contributed strong entrants to the field (clearly I should have just made a list of Symphonies no. 3 by American dudes). Which of these made the cut? Here we go… Continue reading