Arts

All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Sax Ed: The NPR Music Saxophone Quiz

Adolphe Sax's invention has found its way into many styles of music. Here, Clarence Clemons plays the tenor sax with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Lexington, Ky., in 1984.
Lexington Herald-Leader Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:04 am

In November 1814, Col. Andrew Jackson marched on Pensacola, taking the Florida city away from Britain and Spain, while the Congress of Vienna was busy drawing new boundaries after the Napoleonic Wars. And 200 years ago today, in a little 10th-century town south of Brussels, Adolphe Sax was born.

Sax learned instrument-building from his father and soon was inventing new instruments of his own, including the one that bears his name. He patented the saxophone in 1846.

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Arts
6:13 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Composition Conveys War's Effects On Vets In Words And Music

Jake Runestad
Credit jakerunestad.com

The Rockford Symphony Orchestra is premiering the work of an internationally acclaimed young composer November 9.  Jake Runestad also happens to be a Rockford native.  WNIJ’s Guy Stephens spoke to the composer, who now lives in Minnesota, about his work, “Dreams of the Fallen.”  RSO Director Steven Larsen leads the orchestra, the Mendelssohn Chorale and pianist Jeffrey Biegel in the local premiere of "Dreams of the Fallen," a work

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Music News
1:03 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago Thursday.
The LIFE Picture Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:23 pm

It's rare to be able to celebrate a person who invented a popular musical instrument. Mostly, from the guitar to the violin to the flute, musical instruments have evolved over time: There is no Mr. Flute or Ms. Trumpet. But there is a Mr. Sax — or, rather, a Monsieur Sax.

Adolphe Sax was born in Belgium 200 years ago Thursday. As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

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Free Range Radio
7:41 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Celebrating Wells, Welles, And 'War Of The Worlds'

Credit Michael Uhlenkott / via Southern California Public Radio

It was Halloween night, 1938. People were mesmerized, even terrified, by what they heard coming from their radios. The world was being attacked by invaders from space. 

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Music
4:41 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

Amid Hunger And Cold, An Unforgettable Symphony Premiere

Citizens of Leningrad collect water from a broken main in the winter of 1942, during a blockade of the Russian city by Nazis.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 11:30 am

In early 1941, Dmitri Shostakovich was nervous. He was one of Soviet Russia's most brilliant composers, but he had fallen out of favor with the ruthless dictator Joseph Stalin.

He'd been forced to denounce several of his own pieces of music, and some of his friends and family had been imprisoned or killed. He knew the same thing could happen to him.

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Music News
3:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

A Violin Concerto Back From Beyond The Grave

Robert Schumann wrote his Violin Concerto in 1853.
Josef Kriehuber Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 1:40 pm

Classical music meets Halloween and the paranormal Thursday night when the National Symphony Orchestra plays the Schumann Violin Concerto, a work buried for nearly a century and recovered — or so the story goes — by a message from the beyond.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:39 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Just Who Is This Opera Star Singing At The World Series Tonight?

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is singing the national anthem at Game 7 of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, Mo.
Simon Pauly Courtesy of the artist

Maybe this trajectory mirrors the Kansas City Royals' unlikely road to the pennant: An opera star beats out much more mainstream artists to sing the national anthem at the decisive World Series Game 7.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Ghosts In The Music: A Spooky Songs Quiz

Ghosts, both friendly and fiendish, make appearances in a wide range of songs.
iStockphoto.com

Where would Halloween be without ghosts — those wispy spirits either friendly or fiendish in disposition? They've haunted our consciousness for ages, thanks to appearances in visual art, literature, film and music. And now they've overrun this puzzler. From country and classical to rock and jazz, ghosts glide through these songs. Some are nice, others nefarious. Score high and allow yourself to be treated today. Score low and consider yourself tricked.

Music Interviews
4:13 pm
Sun October 26, 2014

Maya Beiser Shreds The Cello

Maya Beiser's new rock covers album is called Uncovered.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun October 26, 2014 5:31 pm

Through the decades, classical cellists have studied the masters: Pablo Casals, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pre. AC/DC doesn't quite make that list — but cellist Maya Beiser loves playing their music.

Beiser gives some of her favorite rock and blues numbers — like AC/DC's "Back in Black" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" — a modern cello workover on her new album, Uncovered.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
7:03 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Danish String Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Starff

An abundance of facial hair is not restricted to the sensitive male indie-rocker set. Three of the four players in the Danish String Quartet could easily pass for hipster Brooklyn beard farmers. "We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard," the group's website says.

Yet what's really important about the ensemble is how they play — and judging from this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, these Nordic lads possess warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none.

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