Some people say we live in a gig economy. And its certainly true for musicians who gig, and have always gigged. But its different now than fifty years ago when industries hired locally and everything was run like a factory, because today you can choose to be infungible, one of a kind. There are so many tools at your fingertips that can help you market yourself, and create your own path. Today we talk about the first steps to becoming a leader, and its not what you imagined.
Opera is the art form that incorperates everything from complex stage sets to lighting and effects. In Italian “opera” means “work”. And Opera is a lot of work. It has drama, ballet, singing and instrumental music. Its “the works” alright. When supertitling came on the scene in the 1980’s, some Opera companies and fans that pushed back. You wonder: in an art form that embraces everything innovative, why wouldn’t the new idea be loved by everyone. Today we talk about the first supertitles, the trend and how it may change art going forward.
Environment has as much to do with our resolve and discipline as other factors like time management, finding good teachers, and being fortunate to have a good instrument. Meaning, we can have all four, and hopefully we can get good work done. Lots of books talk about preparation and planning. Those are all good, but if we can’t throw the switch and practice efficiently, we aren’t going to find success. Today’s episode talks about summer music festivals and retreats and why they can be so effective.
One can’t talk about the viola without including the viola joke. Today we explore the viola, its sometimes lonely existence, and its far too few moments in the spotlight. Stephen Weiss comments at the close about an up and coming violist/composer. There’s a lot to the viola we should give credit, where its due. I hope you enjoy this episode, and pay respects to our cohorts living in the world of the alto clef.
Astor Piazzolla grew up playing bandoneon in tango orchestras in New York City where he met Carlos Gardel. He would return to Argentina to study music composition with Alberto Ginastera, move to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, and eventually become the world’s greatest tango composer. Piazolla revolutionized the tango to a style now termed neuvo tango. Today we explore the composition he wrote for Mstislav Rostropovich in 1982: Le Grand Tango for cello and piano.
J.S. Bach wrote a lot of monumental works and the Chaconne for violin is one of the great masterpieces in the repertoire for solo violin. Aside from the many recordings, there are countless transcriptions for piano, orchestra and chamber groups. Violinists get hooked on the Chaconne early in their pursuit of the violin, but it takes decades to master the piece. For some, like Arnold Steinhardt of the Guaneri String Quartet, it becomes an obsession. Among players who have mastered the Chaconne, they speak about having revelations while performing the piece. Those of us who don’t play the violin feel a bit of envy. Today’s episode gives a look at the Chaconne so we can get better aquainted, without the grueling hours of practice. In anticipation of Bach’s birthday (March 21-31 The Julian and Gregorian calandars inclusive!) Bach in the Subways returns after three years of suspension due to you-know-what. Will you take part? Find a pop-up performance in your city/state/country.
There’s a signifigant amount of stigma among classical musicians when it comes to improvisation. But it wasn’t always this way. The Italian conservatories certainly taught improvisation in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Episode 73). The composers from most schools of music learned to improvise. So its mainly performers who don’t take improv seriously. When a concerto soloist plays a cadenza he’s imitating the act of improvisation. So what’s holding us back from using improvisation in our concerts? Gabriella Montero is a classically trained pianist who improvises on her concerts. Brinton Smith is a cellist who constructs interesting cadenzas for his performances. These are two ways musicians can make classical music more engaging.
2024 will see development of Web 3. We’re already seeing marketplaces for non-fungible tokens, and the on-going creation of blockchain technology. Music NFT’s are available to creators and buyers. Though these seem expensive, the novelty is what sells, and the notion that we can be our own entrepreneurs is what drives the innovation. Blockchains are a peer-to-peer entity. For musicians this means we have a new way to sell our art, bypassing the middleman. Record Labels and Social Media Platforms aren’t taking a cut. Today your song on Spotify gets you. $.0004 per stream. A music NFT on a site like OpenSea typically sells for .03 ETH. Thats about $69. The huge gap in profit is enticing musicians to look into the possibilities Web 3 trade can offer. So what’s holding people back? Web 3 uses cryptocurrency. Like other currencies it goes up and down in value every day. It might take 50 years (or longer) for the notion of peer-to-peer currency to take hold in our world.
Barbara Krakauer taught violin in New York during the year and then took her students to Provence France each summer for a three week retreat or “Stage” as the French name it. Katie Kresek and Colin Pip Dixon are two violinists who studied with Mrs. Krakauer in their youth, attended the Stage multiple summers and in their early adulthood assisted Barbara Krakauer in lessons in New York and France. Barbara Podgurski is a pianist that became Mrs. Krakauer’s pianist for lessons and recitals in both locations. The three musicians have become successful musicians. Now it’s their turn to curate the next generation of musicians: They are reviving the Stage in Barbara Krakauer’s name after twenty years.
The Symbolist movement was definitely a revolution. Artists, composers, authors and poets wanted to break away from the rules. And can you blame them? Today art means personal expression. Looking back we see times when art seemed to build on the past. The Symbolists were interested in infusing mystery, perfume, eerieness, unclear lines, fog and a little bit of magic into their music. The gamelan of Indonesia became a new obsession for Debussy and Ravel. They loved the indistinct pitches and the departure from traditional harmony, cadences and tonality.