Music + Culture

Music + Culture
3:54 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

As The Year Closes, A Concert Hall Remains Empty

Because of a bitter labor dispute, the Minnesota Orchestra has not played a single performance in its concert hall this year. The orchestra's music director, Osmo Vanska (pictured here), resigned in October.
Greg Helgeson Minnesota Orchestra

Three hundred sixty-five. That's the number of days the Minnesota Orchestra will have gone without playing in its concert hall in 2013. The orchestra became the unwitting poster child for labor strife in the classical music world — and, to some extent, an emblem of the problems facing non-profit arts institutions across the country.

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Music + Culture
12:47 pm
Sat December 28, 2013

Chopin's Favorite Piano Factory Plays Its Final Chord

The Pleyel piano factory, which once supplied instruments to Frederic Chopin, will close its doors at the end of the year.
Francois Guillot AFP/Getty Images

One of the world's oldest and most iconic piano makers, Pleyel, will close its factory doors in Paris at the end of 2013.

The French press characterized the bankruptcy as inevitable in the face of cheaper competition from China. But many disagree: They say Pleyel could have survived by adapting better to the times.

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Music + Culture
6:14 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Leaders In Early Music Face A Final Curtain, With Grace

The Hilliard Ensemble, active in the early music world since 1973, will end its long tenure in 2014 with one last world tour.
Marco Borggreve Courtesy of the artist

Since 1973, the four-man vocal chamber group The Hilliard Ensemble has been breathing new life into the sounds of the Renaissance. Now that they've reached their 40-year anniversary, the members have decided to call it a day. Fresh off the new album Il Cor Tristo, the Hilliards will spend 2014 celebrating their long tenure with one last world tour. Then, a year from now, it's all over.

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Music + Culture
2:07 am
Sun December 22, 2013

Talking Great Teachers And Students With Two Piano Masters

Pianist Lang Lang sits down with his own revered mentor Gary Graffman, to discuss what makes great teachers — and bad ones.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 9:52 am

The relationship between a teacher and a student can be transformative. It's a particularly important relationship in classical music. A teacher is part mentor, part manager — even a parental figure.

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Music + Culture
1:34 am
Tue December 17, 2013

New Owner Promises Handmade Steinways For Years To Come

Some Steinway company representatives and employees — like Wally Boot, pictured here — have been working for the company for decades. Boot is the last person to touch every piano that leaves the factory in Queens, N.Y.
Craig Warga Bloomberg/Getty

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:30 pm

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

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From Northwest Public Radio’s staff to you
2:15 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

'Tis the Season: favorite holiday recipes

Fragrant and buttery almond cookies

Add one of Northwest Public Radio’s favorite recipes to your holiday baking and entertaining traditions. Here are recipes Gillian Coldsnow, Robin Rilette, Thom Kokenge and the rest of us suggest for celebrating the season.

Cheesecake Bars
Contributed by Kerry & Lisa Swanson

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Music + Culture
11:57 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

Yuja Wang: Rooted In Diligence, Inspired By Improvisation

Yuja Wang at NPR's studio in Washington, D.C.
Denise DeBelius NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 7:56 am

Sergei Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 — "Rach 3," as fans fondly call it — is one of the most famously difficult pieces of music there is. The sheet music goes on and on, with notes so dense the pages start to look like modern art. The piece is so challenging that some noted pianists have declined to perform it — but Yuja Wang has recorded it for her newest album.

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Music + Culture
7:08 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

Serbian Composer Djuro Zivkovic Wins Grawemeyer Music Prize

Djuro Zivkovic's On the Guarding of the Heart has won the Grawemeyer award for music composition.
Courtesy of the artist

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Music + Culture
2:20 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Da Vinci's String Organ Must Be Heard To Be Believed

Pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki presents the "viola organista" on Oct. 18 in Krakow, Poland. Zubrzycki spent almost four years building the instrument, which is based on a late 15th-century design by Leonardo da Vinci.
Tomasz Wiech AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 8:41 am

The man who painted the Mona Lisa, and was the first to sketch out the helicopter and the submarine, also dabbled in music. So here's the question: What musical instrument did Leonardo da Vinci design?

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Music + Culture
7:08 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Confronting The Ghosts Of Classical Christmas Albums Past

Ah, the holidays: time to enjoy some great seasonal music.
Cagri Ozgur iStock

With the holidays upon us, our friends at member station WQXR invited me along with Washington Post chief classical critic Anne Midgette and Sony Masterworks producer Steven Epstein, the winner of 17 Grammy Awards, to sit down with host Naomi Lewin for a Conducting Business podcast on the topic.

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