Seventy-five years ago folk singer Woody Guthrie penned the initial lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land,” considered by many to be the alternative national anthem. Sung in elementary schools, children’s summer camps, around campfires, at rallies, and during concert encores, “This Land Is Your Land” is the archetypal sing-along song, familiar to generations of Americans. But what most do not know is that Guthrie, the “Oklahoma Cowboy,” actually wrote the song in New York and that its production and dissemination were shaped by the city’s cultural institutions.
Imagine the unimaginable. Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), the person with whom you shared most of your life has forgotten who you are, and even worse, can no longer remember their own experiences, their relationships, and how to behave appropriately in everyday situations. But although most of their long-term memory is heavily impaired, they may continue to relate astonishingly well to autobiographically relevant pieces of music.
Fifty years ago, at the height of the British Invasion, The Yardbirds released “Heart Full of Soul” (28 May 1965) and The Kinks, “See My Friends” (30 July 1965). Both attempted to evoke something exotic, mysterious, and distinctly different from the flood of productions competing for consumer attention that summer. Drawing on Britain’s long fascination with “The Orient,” these recordings started sixties British pop down a path that proved both rewarding and problematic.
How The Light Gets In (named, aptly, in honour of a Leonard Cohen song) has taken the festival world by storm with its yearly celebration of philosophy and music. We spoke to founder and festival organiser Hilary Lawson, who is a full-time philosopher, Director of the Institute of Art and Ideas, and someone with lots to say about keepings things equal and organising a great party.
Many, perhaps most people listen to music with the hope that it permits them to step outside of the world as it usually is, the demands it places on us and the ugliness that so obviously mars it. People gravitate to music’s bright melodies, infectious rhythms, and perhaps especially to lyrics that, whether Beethoven’s or Beyoncé’s, give us some kind of life-raft or a phrase that clarifies our condition.
In celebration of The BBC Proms 120th anniversary we have created a comprehensive reading list of books, journals, and online resources that celebrate the eight- week British summer season of orchestral music, live performances, and late-night music and poetry.
Although often overlooked, the piccolo is an important part of the woodwind instrument family. This high-pitched petite woodwind packs a huge punch. Historically, the piccolo had no keys and was an instrument of its own kind.
On the Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate Independence Day at picnics, concerts, fireworks displays, and gatherings of many kinds, and they almost always sing. “America the Beautiful” will be popular, and so will “Our County, ’Tis of Thee” and of course the national anthem, “Star-Spangled Banner” (despite its notoriously unsingable tune). The words are so familiar that, really, no one pays attention to their meaning. But read them closely and be surprised how the lyrics describe the meaning of America in three very different ways.
Celebrate the end of Black Music Month with this timeline highlighting over 100 years of music created and produced by influential African-Americans. Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea for Black Music Month back in 1979 as a way to annually show appreciate for black music icons. After lobbying, President Jimmy Carter hosted a reception to formally recognize the month.
We’ve got one day here and not another minute…”. Well, not one day exactly, but just five—a short week’s stay in NYC from England, and four nights to catch a few shows. So how to choose? The first choices were easy: two new productions of classic musical comedies, and as it happens, shows by the same team of writers. Betty Comden and Adolph Green were veterans of Broadway by the time they came to write On the Twentieth Century (1978), though merely young starlets when they first scored a hit with On the Town (1944).
At age 23 I had finished my second degree in vocal performance from a distinguished music program, but so what? I felt that I was too young and inexperienced in the professional world to embark on a solo career. As luck (and connections) would have it, a well-known recording group in the Midwest, The Roger Wagner Chorale, eventually offered me that on-the-road experience and performance confidence that would also allow me to meet one of the greatest singing actors of the 20th century.
Gunther Schuller (1925-2015) was one of the most influential figures in the musical world of the past century, with a career that crossed and created numerous genres, fields, and institutions. Oxford offers heartfelt condolences to his family, and gratitude for the profound impact his work continues to have on music performance, study, and scholarship.
The seventh of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s stage works, Pipe Dream came along at a particularly vulnerable time in their partnership. After the revolutionary Oklahoma! (1943) and Carousel (1945)—with, above all, two of the most remarkable scores ever heard to that point—they disappointed many with Allegro (1947).
The first time I held a mandolin was at a rehearsal for Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. In the second act, the Don is trying to seduce the maid Zerlina by singing a serenade under her mistress’ window (the canzonetta “Deh, vieni alla finestra”).
What does it mean to create an artwork? For centuries, we thought we knew the answer. In literature, an author recorded words on a page. In the visual arts, an artist put paint to canvas. In music, a composer jotted down notes and rhythms on a staff as the raw material for his/her creations.
One of the great joys of classical composing is the plotting and planning of new sounds, harmonies, and rhythms. Many composers delight in working out exactly which instrument will sound when, which voice forms what part of a harmony, or how a motif will be created, twisted, and perhaps developed, morphed, or abandoned.