Leonard Bernstein is widely considered one of the great American composers and conductors. He was the longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic, and he composed the music for “West Side Story” and other musicals, in addition to serious works of contemporary American classical music.
"The Nutcracker" is now an American Christmas tradition, but when Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky debuted the work in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, it wasn't a success. San Antonio Symphony’s Associate Conductor Akiko Fujimoto explains.
"You have to understand, until Tchaikovsky came along, ballet music was just ballet music," Fujimoto said. "It wasn’t appreciated for its own good, and Tchaikovsky single-handedly did that."
An extended ovation greeted conductor James Levine last May when he returned to performing after a two-year absence. In 2011, he resigned as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and cancelled his performances at the Metropolitan Opera. He'd been plagued by health problems, injuries and operations, and it was painful for him to move. Many of his admirers, even he himself, feared he might never conduct again.
Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 8:27 am
There's a beguiling photo of Krzysztof Penderecki, who turns 80 today, inside the brochure of this week's Warsaw music festival that bears his name. It shows the lauded Polish composer standing in his immense garden, surrounded by a labyrinth of trees and shrubbery trimmed to symmetrical perfection.