Monthly Archives: August 2002

Even Ludwig Nodded

MY OH MY, HOW THE LETTERS HAVE poured in! “How could you?” their writers fairly scream, as if I had turned my back on motherhood, America and a hot lunch for orphans — which, by the way, I haven’t. What I did, in all innocence and, I think, all honesty, was to note my displeasure […]


Suddenly Tan Dun is everywhere you look, everywhere you listen. In just the past few months audiences in Lisbon and Singapore have flocked to his large-scale orchestral works. His Water Passion After St. Matthew  reached its first American audiences last July,  at the Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene; it’s listed for a Brooklyn Academy of […]


“it is a principle of music to repeat the theme. Repeat and repeat again, as the pace mounts. The theme is difficult but no more difficult than the fact to be resolved.” William Carlos Williams, “The Orchestra” in Steve Reich’s “The Desert Music.” A Harlem teenager testifies on police brutality, and one phrase on tape […]

The Sound of Silence

1.34 METERS TALL, SHORT ARMS, SEVEN FINGERS — four right, three left — large, relatively well-formed head, brown eyes, distinctive lips; profession: singer — so reads, in its entirety, Thomas Quasthoff’s autobiographical entry on his Web site: a profile in courage and in whimsy. The amazement around this extraordinary figure continues; last week, in his […]

Opera on High

Santa Fe‘s opera house is a scenery-studded 800-mile drive from Los Angeles; last week it seemed like home away from home. You ran into familiar Los Angeles faces everywhere — at the operas, and at other soul-renewing gathering places by day. John Crosby, who founded the Santa Fe Opera in 1957 and ran it until […]

Perfect Opera

What makes an opera work? If I had to guide a friend through the devious answers to that question, my final goal would be an understanding of the human interplay with Mozart‘s music in The Marriage of Figaro, tempered with awe at the interaction of harmony and tragedy in Berg’s Wozzeck. There would be other […]