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Music

The Berlin Staatsoper is reopening after a seven-year renovation.  (The New York Times, 9/3/17)

"In 1960, four years after the venerable Blue Note Records signed pianist Jutta Hipp, she stopped performing entirely." Here's a look back at the too-short career of Europe's "First Lady of Jazz."  (Longreads, 8/4/17)

At this year's Bayreuth Festival, Barrie Kosky presents a high-concept Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg that stars Richard Wagner himself.  (The Guardian, 7/27/17; The New York Times, 8/1/17; The New York Review of Books, 8/8/17)

The world's most powerful leaders just attended a performance of Beethoven's Ninth. How well did they listen?  (Los Angeles Times, 7/8/17; The New York Times, 7/9/17; The New Yorker, 7/12/17)

"Wim Wenders, Daniel Barenboim and Georges Bizet: when giants meet, the outcome should be huge." Alas, The Pearl Fishers earns only mixed reviews at the Berlin Staatsoper.  (The New York Times, 6/20/17; Financial Times, 6/26/17)

Beginning in September 1965, Beat Club brought the youth rock revolution to German television viewers. (Open Culture, 5/25/17)

The Protestant Reformation turns 500
"Through his hymns, Luther is grandfather of a musical revolution that shared and adapted, united in stomping change on the world through rousing melodies and simple words."  (BBC, 5/24/17; The Guardian, 8/18/17)

Brahms's A German Requiem "has become something of an anthem for our time, with grand social and political reverberations."  (The New York Times, 5/12/17)

"Slowly but surely, Germany has played catch-up with Weill’s music — in particular through the Kurt Weill festival in Dessau, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary."  (The New York Times, 3/9/17)

"The Elbphilharmonie is the concert hall that Hamburg needs. The Pierre Boulez Saal is what the world needs."  (The New York Times, 3/3/17;  Los Angeles Times, 3/5/17; The New Yorker, 5/22/17)

The conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was "naïve, vain, fatherly, occasionally high-handed and unstintingly devoted to his art."  (Gramophone, 3/1/17)

If I Think of Germany at Night, a new documentary by Romuald Karmukar, is an intimate portrait of techno DJs at work. (The Hollywood Reporter, 2/14/17; The Economist, 5/22/17)

In The Political Orchestra, Fritz Trümpi examines the experiences of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras under National Socialism.  (Times Higher Education, 2/9/17; Literary Review, 3/2017)

Ute Lemper brings "Songs of Eternity" and an important message for today to Washington DC.  (The Washington Post, 2/3/17)

In memoriam: Jaki Liebezeit (1938-2017), "the rigorously minimal and quietly influential drummer for the 1970s German experimental rock band Can."  (The Guardian, 1/23/17; Rolling Stone, 1/23/17; The New York Times, 1/25/17)

Take a tour of Germany's grandest pipe organs with Akhil Sharma.  (Financial Times, 1/19/17)

The Konzerthausorchester Berlin pays homage to "the sweet sound of currywurst."  (The Local, 1/17/17)

"The €789m Elbphilharmonie is an astonishing building: unpredictable, unforgiving and not entirely beautiful, but also generous, open and profound in its relationship with the docks, the city and the sky."  (Financial Times, 12/2/16; Deutsche Welle, 1/9/17; The New York Times, 1/10/17; Los Angeles Times, 3/23/17)

"Tonight at six I will listen to the Furtwängler concert on the radio," Hermann da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote to his wife Käthe, while imprisoned at Buchenwald. "Why don't you, too, turn on the radio on Sundays, so we can think of each other fervently."  (The New York Times, 5/4/16)

From the land of "long entertainment," Wagner's Ring Cycle is the original binge-watching experience.  (The Washington Post, 4/14/16)

"Once again, if you have a little time for Nena, she’ll sing a song for you." Genau jetzt!  (Slate, 4/13/16)

In memoriam: Roger Cicero (1970-2016), popular jazz vocalist who represented Germany in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.  (Deutsche Welle, 3/29/16)

Ready for "a mind-melting 24 hours"? Run, don't walk, to one of the Met's three NYC campuses to hear Karlheinz Stockhausen's Klang.  (The Guardian, 3/18/16; The New York Times, 3/27/16)

"Nerd's musical ensemble" Geekchester welcomes you to the wonderful world of German engineering.  (The Local, 3/11/16)

"Megaloh is a true product of the digital music age. Praised by his peers and listened to by millions of fans on YouTube and streaming services, the 35-year-old still has to work as a warehouseman to make ends meet."  (Handelblatt - Global Edition, 3/8/16)

See and hear how Wagner's "Ring" was forged, in a new exhibition at NYC's Morgan Library & Museum.  (The New York Times, 1/28/16; The New York Review of Books, 2/25/16)

"In the nineteen-seventies, the German supergroup Harmonia made music that sounds as though it could have been made this morning."  (The New Yorker, 1/20/16)

Here's how "a song about a cold-blooded serial murderer written by a Marxist playwright and a leftwing composer for a musical that aimed to lay bare the hypocrisies of bourgeois morality went on to become a huge commercial success."  (Financial Times, 1/15/16)

"In many respects David Bowie was like Berlin: sometimes over-hyped and overrated, but undeniably one-of-a-kind....Berlin is mourning one of its favorite adoptive sons."  (Deutsche Welle, 1/11/16)

In memoriam: Kurt Masur (1927-2015), "musician, humanist and a symbol of transformation in the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall." He led the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the New York Philharmonic. (Deutsche Welle, 12/19/15; The New York Times, 12/19/15; The Guardian, 12/20/15)

In memoriam: Heinz Fricke (1927-2015), "East German conductor who had an unlikely late-career renaissance as the beloved music director of the Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra."  (The Washington Post, 12/8/15)

For two days, Xavier Naidoo was Germany's contestant for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest—two days too long.  (Deutsche Welle, 11/23/15)

Alex Diehl's "kleines Lied", a heartfelt response to the Parisian terrorist attacks, has gone viral. (The Local, 11/17/15)

"A Beethoven cycle? Again? Yes, a Beethoven cycle, a mere 1,1017 days after the last one" at Carnegie Hall...  (The New York Times, 11/16/15; The New York Times, 11/22/15; NPR, 11/23/15)

If only we all had 1st-grade music classes this cool! Watch these elementary school students in Mainz perform Kraftwerk's "Roboter".  (Electronic Beats, 10/31/15)

"Ist das noch der Diwan, auf dem sich dein Vater verblutet hat?" The artists behind the Met's new production of Lulu consider one of the opera's most pivotal passages.  (The New York Times, 10/29/15)

"Berlin’s three opera houses united to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall and open their seasons with a trio of new productions by Wagner, Offenbach and Meyerbeer."  (The Guardian, 10/8/15)

#RefugeesWelcome

"Deine Gewalt ist nur ein stummer Schrei nach Liebe..."  A 1993 rock anthem against right-wing extremism makes a resounding comeback.  (The Washington Post, 9/4/15)

Just in case you're not sure Christian Thielemann was the right man for that new job opening in Bayreuth—read My Life With Wagner.  (The Independent, 8/13/15; The Economist, 8/15/15; The Spectator, 8/15/15; Standpoint, 10/2015)

Heiner Goebbels and the Ensemble Musikfabrik
would like to introduce you to the alternate musical universe of Harry Partch, onstage at Lincoln Center.  (The New York Times, 7/21/15; New York Classical Review, 7/24/15; The New York Times, 7/24/15)

In memoriam: Dieter Moebius (1944-2015), experimental music pioneer, co-founder of Cluster and Harmonia.  (The Guardian, 7/21/15; The Guardian, 7/22/15)

In the summer of 1970, a young Conny Plank captured the sounds of Duke Ellington and his orchestra at the Rhenus Studio in Cologne. Now you can hear for yourself!  (The Economist, 7/3/15; Electronic Beats, 7/9/15)

"With gaudy costumes and 80s-style dance routines, Helene Fischer has become one of the most successful German artists of all time—and polarized the country."  (Deutsche Welle, 7/3/15)

"It’s that time of year again: the balmy nights of late spring are the augurs of the annual ritual of blood-letting in northern Bavaria, when the remaining Wagners do their best to tear each other apart in public on the eve of the Bayreuth festival."  (The Guardian, 6/11/15; Slipped Disc, 6/12/15)

Get right in the middle of a symphonic performance at the Konzerthaus Berlin.  (The New York Times, 5/27/15)

"Cassettes never really died in Germany, a country that still houses a flourishing tape scene."  (Electronic Beats, 5/14/15)

Who will succeed Simon Rattle as chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2018? Kirill Petrenko! (The New York Times, 5/6/15; The New York Times, 5/11/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/12/15; The New Yorker, 5/13/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/22/15; The New York Times, 6/22/15; The Spectator, 6/23/15; NPR, 7/7/15)

After 265 years, Elias Gottlob Haussmann's renowned portrait of J.S. Bach has come back to Leipzig.  (The Guardian, 4/29/15; Deutsche Welle, 6/15/15)

Berlin and its discontents
"No one had the intention to destroy the Wall. After all, it was the life insurance for West Berlin." B-Movie recalls the mid-1980s counterculture of a divided city.  (Dazed, 3/18/15; Deutsche Welle, 5/20/15)

"If there’s one thing about which I feel confidentdespite the radical contingencies that typify our worldit’s that there will be no rioting or disruption whatsoever at the Royal Opera’s production of Mahagonny." Good call, Will Self.  (The Guardian, 3/13/15)

The Berliner Staatsoper celebrates Alban Berg, "one of the 20th century’s most innovative composers, a man who is paradoxically also one of its most nostalgic Romantics."  (The Economist, 3/11/15)

Better start warming up to "Black Smoke": There was a surprise twist at the end of Germany's Eurovision finals.  (The Local Germany, 3/6/15)

"It's like a historical recovery project, with Schoenberg’s ‘voice’ and dissonant material being deployed by utility carts.” (USC News, 2/26/15)

"The tradition of Beethoven and Wagner is ignored by today’s academic composers, but over-the-top Romanticism thrives in first-person-shooter video games."  (The Daily Beast, 2/21/15)

Germany's baroque opera houses: still stimulating the local economy after all these years.  (Bloomberg, 2/12/15)

No new concert hall for Munich, Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer has announced, angering Mariss Jansons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and many more.  (Forbes, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/9/15; Forbes, 3/4/15)

"By the time Richard Strauss died in 1949, many musicians and critics considered him an embarrassing fossil." Don't listen to them, writes Tim Page. Instead, listen to the "significant and beautiful music" that Strauss composed throughout his long career.  (The New York Review of Books, 1/31/15) 

In memoriam: Edgar Froese (1944-2015), leader of Tangerine Dream—"first an improvising avant-garde rock band, then an ambient electronic-music project, and finally an arena-filling machine of smooth and heroic synthesizer pulsations."  (The Guardian, 1/23/15; Los Angeles Times, 1/26/15; The New York Times, 1/26/15)

"For reasons difficult to fathom, Weber’s 'Der Freischütz' has rarely caught on outside Germany." Michael Thalheimer's new production at the Berlin State Opera probably won't be the one to spark new interest abroad.  (The New York Times, 1/22/15; Deutsche Welle, 1/24/15)


Forty-five years since they started out, Kraftwerk’s influence is everywhere, in every pop genre you can think of – and quite a few you can’t...Kraftwerk’s mechanical cadences have become the soundtrack of our lives."  (The Spectator, 1/19/15; The Conversation, 2/4/15)

Go back to the musical future in Röbel, Germany, home of the largest vinyl pressing factory in Europe.  (The Guardian, 1/7/15)

"Why, within a year, is the Universal Music Group...putting out two new versions of Brahms’s symphonies, played by orchestras based 70 miles apart in the former East Germany?"  (The New York Times, 1/2/15)