Liam Byrne is a sought after viol de gamba player for both ancient Western music—covering eras in history like the Renaissance and the Baroque period—as well as music composed today from renowned composers such as Nico Muhly and Nadia Sorota. Mr. Byrne does not let the dated instrument of his choice deter him from experimenting with sounds of all kinds with ensembles, as well as by himself with electronics. Click here for the article! (Image by Suzanne Plunkett/The New York Times).
An interesting read and a small insight into Faksimile Verlag, a publisher of facsimile editions. “Facsimile” comes from two Latin roots: facere, meaning “to make,” and simile, meaning “like.” The article also briefly discusses the role facsimiles plays within the current age of digitalization we are in, and how technological progress can help the field of creating facsimiles thrive for years to come. The end of the article is followed with several other parts contributing to this story. Click here for the article! (Image is a facsimile of J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz).
Advanced technicians at Steinway & Sons are working to restore the famous American song writer and composer, Cole Porter’s, beloved piano. The writer of the article, James Barron, also elaborates on Porter’s personal life and how intricate the family ties and networks were for the famed musician, including connections to former President Herbert Hoover. An intriguing piece on American culture within the music field as well as an obscure history of this particular piano. Click here for the article! (Image by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times).
An eloquently written piece by Cleveland Johnson about a nearly forgotten instrument called a tangent piano. Sort a mix of a modern piano and a harpsichord, the texture of the sound that it produces is unlike any other keyboard instrument out there. He provides a many explanations, as well as plenty of sound examples, including recent albums made entirely with this instrument. Click here for the article! (Image by Emil Matveev/ECM Records).
This fascinating article written by Elizabeth Hummuth Margulis discusses how repetition within music plays a vital part in how we actually listen to it. She makes the argument that the frequently asked philosophical question, “What is music?” should instead be asked as, “What do we hear as music?” Citations were made to several studies, one of which was done by her in her lab at The University of Arkansas, proving her argument and encouraging a new way of thinking about how we listen to music. Click here for the article!
Ancient Greek music has been deemed by many as a lost art. Though an abundance of information is accessible, specific terms and notions affiliated with the sounds are complicated and foreign to modern minds. Attempts to reconstruct it have proven to not be too successful for how unappealing and strange it ended up sounding. However, thanks to the newly developed research done by Armand D’Angour, the situation has changed for the better. Click here for the article!
Within the classrooms of most music history courses at Universities, students are taught the evolution of western music through the compositions of mainly men, if not only men. Infrequently are women mentioned at all, other than the occasional reference of a male composer’s wife. For example: when we learn about the music of Johannes Brahms, we are often taught about the strong friendship he had with Robert Schumann, as well as the drama surrounding his admiration for his wife, Clara Schumann. However, we never delve into the complex and beautiful music that Clara Schumann composed in the shadows of her husband. In this article, Alice Gregory provides a short overview of classical music of only women composers, with sound excerpts included! Click here for the article. (Featured image above is taken by Krista Schlueter for the New York Times).
Giacomo Puccini’s dominance within the opera repertoire is virtually unmatched. With operas like “La Bohéme” and “Tosca” still remaining as house staples in opera houses around the world, Puccini solidified himself as an eminent composer in both the 19thand 20thcentury. Have a read of this NY Times article to see how Puccini’s influence and dominance in the New York scene attracted the biggest names in industries within the Big Apple. Click here to read the article.
As a musician, composer and activist, Louis Armstrong needs no introduction. One of the most influential musicians of the 20thcentury, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong captivated the nation with his virtuosity on the trumpet, the timbre of his voice and his natural ability to govern the performance stage at any given time. Unlike most composers or musicians that we study regularly here at the Cali School, Armstrong’s posterity made him unique amongst contemporaries. He wrote over 10,000 letters to fans and hundreds of personal memoirs, many of which have been stored in the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Thanks to a generous grant from the Fund II Foundation, these archives are now digitized and accessible to the public. Take a read! Click here to read the NY Times article.
On Friday April 6th, Cali students in Music in Time, Place and Ideas (MUHS 308) had an extraordinary experience in the new instrument gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The renovated gallery had opened only the week before and the Associate Curator, Dr. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, was keen to share the new curatorial vision for the collection with us. At the front of the galleries, the curators have placed a spectacular case of brass instruments and nicknamed the display “Fanfare.” Everyone agreed that it’s fairly impossible not to smile as one approaches it. To our delight, Bradley retrieved a conch shell and handed it to the nearest brass player, Justin Hovi, who did us all proud. The Met’s permanent collection has been reinvigorated by its new associations within type and themes across cultural boundaries, and has to our relief discarded the former Eurocentric models of “west” versus “east.” It’s a triumph, and will no doubt continue to be a world-class resource for Cali School students and thousands of other students for years to come.