Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:55 pm
After 11 days and more than 500 submissions, we proudly unveil a winner (and several honorable mentions) in our very first classical cartoon caption contest. Congratulations to Gregory Curnow from central Massachusetts, who remembered that hippos not only excel at the violin, but also have a habit of snorting.
"I just tried to put myself in the shoes of a judge in one of those blind symphony orchestra auditions," Curnow said when asked how he came up with his winning caption. We'll send him a new NPR Music tote bag and coffee mug for his efforts.
On May 17th, the famous auction house Christie's will sell more than 150 items for pianist Van Cliburn. Now 77 years old, the Cold War-era classical music megastar and competition founder has long been a collector of fine English furniture, Russian art, silver and jewelry — and Christie's expects this New York sale to bring in more than $3 million.
My father, world-renowned virtuoso violinist and teacher Roman Totenberg, whose professional career spanned nine decades and four continents, died early Tuesday morning at the age of 101.
His death was as remarkable as his life. He made his debut as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic at age 11, performed his last concert when he was in his mid-90s, and was still teaching, literally, on his deathbed. This week, as word flew around the musical world that he was in renal failure, former students flocked to his home in Newton, Mass., to see the beloved "maestro."
Born into a well-to-do Danish family in 1840, Christian Frederik Emil Horneman showed musical talent at an early age, then went on to study in Leipzig and later spent most of his life as a teacher. But he would also compose a limited amount of music, which one wishes had been greater in quantity judging from the fine orchestral works on this new release.
When it comes to reliable lightning rods in classical music, it's hard to top Richard Wagner. The latest controversies center on the Metropolitan Opera's current staging of the composer's gargantuan Ring cycle, the set of four epic and mythical operas first mounted at Bayreuth in 1876, and now seen live at the Met together in a series.
Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert.
I'm not sure how the Daily Mail arrived at the unfortunate headline "An Unlikely Fan: Why Opera's Biggest Star, Domingo Placido Is Crazy For Lady Gaga." The obvious hed goof aside, it's not like Domingo gives La Gaga effusive praise: "I think Lady Gaga has a very good voice. Absolutely. She has a wonderful voice.