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Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Chopin, whose Ballade No. 1 in g minor is one of the "musical moments" that inspired a <em>New York Times </em>series.
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Chopin, whose Ballade No. 1 in g minor is one of the "musical moments" that inspired a New York Times series.
  • In the New York Times this week, Anthony Tommasini has a series in both print and video about those microcosmic musical moments like "a fleeting passage, a short series of chords, some unexpected shift in a melodic line — when something occurs that just grabs us." What links these diverse bits from Chopin to Puccini to Mahler together? "In every instance the composer seems intent on using strategic musical means to bring about some acute sensory and emotional reaction, even if the listener is not consciously aware of what is happening." He's also asking readers to weigh in with their picks, and the responses have been well worth (re-)visiting.
  • Meanwhile, the Times is simultaneously asking readers to submit their comments about — you guessed it: how to save classical music. Kicking things off is retired Met Opera violinist Les Dreyer, whose helpful tips include getting this done: "The younger generation ... must be weaned away from the cacophony of rock and the neon glitter of 'American Idol'-type TV shows." (His countersuggestion? More Bugs Bunny.)
  • Philip Ledger, who had a multifaceted artistic life as a collaborator of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears, composer, organist and director of music for the famed King's College, Cambridge (among other highlights), died Sunday at age 74 after a long battle with cancer.
  • A classical music newbie writes about his experience in the tweet seats at the Mobile (Ala.) Symphony, watching Chee-Yun play the Sibelius Violin Concerto: "Given the power of her performance, I regret somewhat that I spent a few precious seconds sending 140-character missives into the swirling void of the Twittersphere. It seems obtuse, even vulgar, to try to capture something so grand using the most disposable medium since the Post-it note. However, the exercise helped transform me into more of an active listener, a true observer instead of merely an audience member. Little details that I might have missed seemed to jump out at me. Attempting to capture the concert in words forced me to think about it on a deeper level." (He loved the concert, by the way.)
  • The week's only half over, but there's already lots here for you to catch up on during the holiday. You can listen to John Eliot Gardiner conduct Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at Carnegie Hall and read (and hear) what makes the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth so revolutionary. And in case you're still looking for sounds to spin for your T-day feast, we have some ideas (and welcome yours).
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    Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.
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