My first exposure to the music of Guiseppe Verdi came in high school. Fred Junkin, the director of the Victoria High School Band, chose Verdi's "Overture to La Forza del Destino" for one of our contest pieces. The drama of the piece stuck with me, such that as a professional musician and devoted listener to classical music, my heart still responds to Verdi's restless score.
Two hundred years ago today, in a small northern Italian village, a couple named Verdi — tavern owners by trade — welcomed the birth of a baby boy who would later change the face of opera forever. And, whether we recognize it or not, on the bicentennial of his birth, Giuseppe Verdi is still vital.
Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 9:36 am
Close your eyes, and you may think that this is 1913. In the past few days, the classical music community has been set aflame by recent comments from three prominent male conductors who are — steel yourself — actually saying that women are not capable of standing on the podium.
Two hundred years ago this week, Giuseppe Verdi was born in an Italian town midway between Bologna and Milan. On the occasion of his bicentennial, All Things Considered wanted to know what makes the great opera composer so enduring — why his work is still so frequently discussed and performed these two centuries later. The answer, says conductor and arranger John Mauceri, is that Verdi had a knack for making thorny topics accessible.
The San Antonio Symphony debuted its new season last weekend and Musical Director and sometimes Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing predicts a lot of sizzle for their Friday and Saturday night performances at the Majestic.
"It’s going to be a very exciting performance for me," he said. "Schumann is something that’s very personal for me. I’m very close to his music. I’ve recorded all of his symphonies and always feature him when I can."
Lang-Lessing is also looking forward to playing Rachmaninoff’s "Symphonic Dances."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. They call it The People's Opera, but after this month, the New York City Opera will exist only in the history books. The renowned company is closing after 70 years. The New York City Opera failed to raise the $7 million it needed to cover its debts and will file for bankruptcy protection.
San Antonio’s SOLI Chamber Ensemble is about to begin its new season and violinist Ertan Torgul said their selections will include what he calls "classics of today" -- selections of such quality that time will eventually render them classics.
"We’re always very innovative," he said. "We do a lot of multimedia and we do a lot of mixed ensemble things, and brand new pieces of course. Every season features at least four or five brand new works."
Cellist and composer Erik Friedlander lost his wife of many years, dancer and choreographer Lynn Shapiro, to breast cancer in 2011. She'd been diagnosed a decade earlier, and Friedlander says music became a place of vital release for him as her condition worsened.
"During the difficult years, I did take refuge in working," he says. "It was a place where I could make the rules; where I could control what I could control."