KPAC Blog

The KPAC Blog features classical music news and analysis.  From a detailed look at Wagner's masterpiece "Parsifal," to an inside look at the Latin Grammys, the KPAC Blog features writings about some of the music played on air as well as other interviews and essays about classical music.

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The Two-Way
4:09 pm
Sun April 28, 2013

Janos Starker, A Master Of The Cello, Dies At 88

Hungarian-born American cellist Janos Starker died Sunday at 88. Starker's career included more than 165 recordings, as well as decades of teaching.
Erich Auerbach Getty Images

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 9:24 am

Cellist Janos Starker has died at 88, ending a life and career that saw him renowned for his skills as a soloist, his prodigious work with orchestras, and his commitment to teaching. Starker was born in Budapest in 1924; his path to becoming an international star included surviving life in a Nazi labor camp.

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KPAC blog
11:15 am
Sun April 28, 2013

Beethoven's Ultimate Piano Sonata, No. 32 in c minor

Luckily Beethoven could read his writing!

Ultimate, a word that originally meant last in Latin has become a description of finest or best in English
or ne plus ultra in French. It can be argued that Beethoven's last or ultimate sonata fits both definitions.

Coming near the end of a life of breaking barriers and exercising his considerable will, the composer's last
sonatas are artistic works that have earned their immortality.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:04 am
Sat April 27, 2013

Madame Mao's Hollywood Fantasies

A Chinese and a North Korean embrace in a pledge of everlasting (political) love. From Raid on the White Tiger Regiment, 1971.
Zhang Yaxin Courtesy of the see+ Gallery, Beijing, and the Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto.

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 3:56 pm

During the chaos and oppression of China's Cultural Revolution, one curious new theatrical genre was born — and it was the child of the Communist Party. Jiang Qing (a.ka. Madame Mao), a former stage and screen actress and the notorious wife of Mao Zedong, led the creation of yang ban xi: "model works" that were meant, in words attributed to Chairman Mao, to "serve the interests of the workers, peasants, and soldiers and [conforming] to proletarian ideology."

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Classical Spotlight
2:47 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Blue Shades' And More From Composer Ticheli At TLU

Composer/Conductor Frank Ticheli
Charlie Grosso

Friday night marks the return of Frank Ticheli to Texas. He grew up near Dallas playing trumpet, studied composition at SMU and Michigan, and taught at Trinity University for several years.

Currently a USC professor, Ticheli will lead seven of his works with members of the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble at Texas Lutheran University.

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KPAC Blog:
2:45 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

The Last Sonatas, Beethoven And Composing For The Ages

Rembrandt's depiction of the crucifixion, The Three Crosses.

It is scary to realize that some of our planet's great art is there for what at the time was an accidental circumstance.

In 1819 Moritz Schlesinger, a music publisher, met with Beethoven and bargained for 60 songs and 3 piano sonatas. These were his last three piano sonatas - the pinnacle of his Late period - and took longer because of illness and other work.

Because of these circumstances there was talk of dropping the sonatas from the contract. The Piano Sonata No. 31 was finished Christmas Day 1821.

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KPAC Blog: Metropolitan Opera
1:15 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

'Giulio Cesare' And The Return Of George Frederick Handel

Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

If you're older than thirty you may know something of the unlikely and extremely rare probability of a baroque opera being performed at the Metropolitan Opera. This was sometime in the late eighties, but in musical terms seems a lifetime ago.

To quote Inspector Morse, the opera loving sleuth, "I was horrified to discover that the tickets I had received for Wagner were in fact for Handel!"

I can think of no opera composer of the first rank who has undergone so radical a transformation of fortune as Handel.

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Classical Spotlight
11:47 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Final Fiesta Event Is Classical Concert At St. Mark's Episcopal

The organ at St. Mark's Episcopal Church
Courtesy of the artist

Music from St. Mark’s presents their annual Fiesta celebration this Sunday at 4 p.m. It showcases the music of Francis Poulenc, including the "Concerto for Organ in G minor" and his grand choral symphony "Gloria."

Members of the San Antonio Symphony will augment musicians of the St. Mark’s Choir and featured soloist Joseph Causby.

Causby is the music director and conductor at St. Marks. He chuckles at the question: Is being a soloist and then conductor like juggling?

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KPAC Blog
11:46 am
Wed April 24, 2013

What Was Old Is New Again With Beethoven's Sonata No. 30

Flickr user Jochen Spalding (b_lumenkraft) cc

After his mighty "Hammerklavier Sonata," Ludwig van Beethoven continued with writing sonatas, but on a smaller and more intimate scale.

The "Sonata No. 30 in E" is a rare combination of nostalgia, youthful vigor and an antiquarian's love of baroque musical forms.

In the first movement, the music swims out of the void into being and the composer weaves passages that simultaneously project them forward and fall back into reminiscence.

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KPAC Blog
4:27 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

One Of Beethoven's Greatest Testaments, The 'Hammerklavier Sonata'

1820 portrait of Beethoven done by Joseph Karl Stieler, color by Greg Firlotte

My piano teacher told me about the story of Ludwig van Beethoven's creation of his biggest Piano Sonata the "Hammerklavier."

It goes back to John Broadwood sending him his best and biggest piano, and Beethoven's reply was this groundbreaking work. When I looked up to confirm what I was told, I found out the story was even more amazing.

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KPAC Blog
4:53 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Parker Makes Stravinsky Ballets One Man Band

Jon "Jackie" Kimura Parker
John Clare / Texas Public Radio

Igor Stravinsky made an original piano version of his ballet "Petrushka," so why would someone else make one?

"Well, I played it as a student, and I remember thinking, you know, I would actually trill this octave, not that one," says Jon "Jackie" Kimura Parker.

Parker has made a solo piano version of the entire ballet, not just a few scenes.

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