The same 1853 walking tour that brought young Johannes Brahms to Robert Schumann’s door, also took him to Weimar for a meet and greet with an even greater star of the day. Like any self-respecting 20-year old, Brahms refused to be struck.
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Briefly noting the birthday, on August 26, of an American inventor whose most familiar contributions helped make Classical MPR (and everything else on the radio) possible. Once though, he was considered something of a high-tech snake oil salesman whose electronic elixir turned out to be everything he claimed.
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Something in the concept of vacation was lost in translation for a small, portly but energetic German composer of the 19th century. The idea of kickin’ back always seemed to work out as kickin’ it up a notch.
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Plenty to mourn about this prodigious short-lived talent. He was short-changed in years. We’re short-changed in melodies that never were. But, strangely, that patina of poignancy need not apply to the famous, eponymous symbol of the young man’s unfinished business.
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When it started more than a hundred years ago it measured less than 500 kilometers. Today, it’s more than 3600 kilometers (and three weeks) long. A “cinematographe,” or two, from the early days of the Tour.
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An introduction to one of the most versatile and accomplished figures in American arts & letters. Introduction because despite his accomplishments, it’s very possible you’ve never heard of him. Yet, for Lincoln Kirstein, what’s now a major cultural institution was a just college club. And the first of a series of essential ballet scores by Aaron Copland? His idea.
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Credit the late Thomas Hoving for the line. As director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was part of his job, he said, to breathe life into antiquities, to make the mummies dance. A Polish pianist developed a similar sense of mission when her keyboard interests turned decidedly old-school.
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For Bela Bartok in America, illness and obscurity equaled poverty. A champion of new music gave him work and a paycheck, but expected nothing of particular value.
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A master symphonist, staring mortality in the face, pares back his forces.
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Mozart was down–financially, professionally–in the last year of his life, but not out. For him, a young man with immense talent, time was on his side. His current straits would become the briefest of dips in the market. But we, who can see the past’s future, have a different perspective, and sigh for what’s ahead.
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