Texas Public Radio Classical Music blog and other stories.

Phil Houseal

Symphony of the Hills' new season begins with an unexpected bang. That bang will be provided by the style of music: Rach & Roll.

Neville Marriner, the conductor and violinist who was something of an entrepreneur as well as the guiding spirit behind one of the most successful classical recordings of all time — the soundtrack to the 1984 smash movie Amadeus — died overnight at age 92 at his home in London. His death was announced by the chamber orchestra he founded, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.


It wasn’t too long ago that a friend of mine asked me about why I enjoy listening to LPs. It’s not because I feel they sound superior to compact discs, I explained—though I do enjoy the rich, warm sound of a good vinyl record. Instead, I like the way the LP format makes me focus on the music I’m listening to more intently than I would with a CD, let alone my trusty iPod Shuffle. Those formats have their place, but they also feed into our growing national case of ADHD. When I sit down with a beautiful album, my tendency is to let it play all the way through.

In 1996, I was listening to “Performance Today” on KPAC and heard the host, Martin Goldsmith, introduce a piece of music by a composer new to me. It was “The Yellow Pages,” by Michael Torke. Besides Torke’s affinity for music associated with colors (he is a synesthete), Goldsmith described the subtle variations in the short work as something akin to flipping through the pages of the phone book.

Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3, which appears on his latest album, contains many levels of meaning. It's an homage to the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose Second Symphony serves as a structural model for the piece. It's an encoded musical portrait of Rouse's wife. And it's an engaging piece of music even for a listener who possesses none of this background knowledge.