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1837, vol. 4: Meyerbeer, Hensel, Heinrich

By 1837, Giacomo Meyerbeer was the star composer of the Paris Opéra. He had premiered his opera Robert le diable there in 1831. It was a sensational success, but Meyerbeer outdid himself with his next opera, Les Huguenot, which had premiered at Paris in the spring of 1836. […] Continue reading

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1837, vol. 3: Sor, Glinka, Liszt

Spanish guitarist and composer Fernando Sor was born in 1778. He grew up at Montserrat, which is just outside Valencia, halfway up the east coast of Spain on the Mediterranean. In 1808, when Sor was 30 […] Continue reading

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1837, vol. 2: Hummel, Lortzing, Chopin

If I could have seen the world from the perspective of any one classical musician, if it were for the sake of being able to meet as many of Europe's legendary musicians as possible, I think I'd choose Johann Nepomuk Hummel. […] Continue reading

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1837, vol. 1: Cherubini, Mercadante, Donizetti

There was not a state of Italy in 1837, but the Italian unification movement was well underway. The Italian peninsula at the time was a collection of city-states and duchies and kingdoms, which had been reconstituted by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after the Napoleonic wars. […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 14: Webern, Milhaud, Poulenc

Of all early Modernism, it’s Anton Webern’s music that’s most abstract and challenging. Introducing this music in the foreword to his six-CD set of the composer’s complete works, Pierre Boulez speaks of the “purity” of Webern’s “asceticism.” […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 13: Stravinsky, Antheil, Gotovac, Schmidt

Most music historians recognize Igor Stravinsky to be the most influential composer of classical music in the 20th century. They talk about three kinds of “liberation” involved in the Modernist revolution in music […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 12: Ives, Holst, Rachmaninoff

Just as Mark Twain had been the first writer to create a indigenous American style in literature — the first American author who wasn’t just a transplanted European — Charles Ives was the first composer to create an indigenous American style in classical music. His music is experimental and aggressively Modernist, so it’s not as immediately agreeable as Duke Ellington or Aaron Copland, but it evokes the American experience with an eloquence and candor that few other classical composers have matched, and none have exceeded. […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 11: Dohnányi, Atterberg, Finzi, Bax

Especially if you're an American afficianado of classical music, the name Dohnányi might first call to mind Christoph von Dohnányi, the conductor who led the Cleveland Orchestra as music director from 1984 to 2002. But even more important a musician than Christoph was his grandfather, the Hungarian composer, pianist, and conductor Ernő Dohnányi. […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 10: Fuchs, Sæverud, Turina, Korngold

We’ll begin this episode with a Viennese composer and end it with a Viennese composer. Robert Fuchs was eighty-nine years old in 1926 — the last full calendar year of his life. […] Continue reading

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1926, vol. 9: Madetoja, Seeger, Casella

Like his teacher Jean Sibelius, the Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja was amongst those artists who had continued to uphold the Romantic style after the Modernist revolution. In 1924, Madetoja had premiered his opera Pohjalaisia at Helsinki. […] Continue reading

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