The Magic Flute meets Weimar Berlin: “The sheer inventiveness of the staging, its fantastical mix of animation and live action, is hard to resist.”  (The New York Times, 7/18/19)

Rammstein was “a tough proposition for many people to get their heads around. But like most things relating to this deceptively enigmatic and frequently misunderstood band, there’s a method to the madness in everything they do.”  (The New Yorker, 5/20/19;  Louder, 7/4/19)

Brexit party MEPs turned their backs during the EU anthem at the opening of the European Parliament. Politicians of all stripes have happily associated themselves with Beethoven’s Ninth and “Ode to Joy” for nearly 200 years. But rejecting Beethoven? Not so much.  (The Guardian, 7/3/19)

In 1917, the Boston Symphony declined to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” in concert— ushering in a brouhaha that led to the internment of its Swiss German music director, Karl Muck. Now Melissa D. Burridge has written a comprehensive history of the scandal.  (The New Yorker, 7/2/19)

“In the case of Stockhausen,” writes Alex Ross, “only the colossal will suffice. ‘Aus Licht’ turned out to be the kind of inexplicable marvel that one waits half a lifetime to see.”  (The New York Times, 6/4/19; The New Yorker, 6/17/19)

“I’m the operator with my pocket calculator,” Kraftwerk sang in 1981. That same year, the band commissioned a special version of Casio’s VL-80 that doubled as a musical synthesizer.  (Open Culture, 6/6/19)

“‘Sound’ doesn’t come close to describing the experience. What the band produces penetrates to the bone marrow.” Classical music writer Rick Fulker attends his first Rammstein concert.  (Deutsche Welle, 5/28/19)

Stockhausen “is the ultimate conundrum for those of us who believe keenly in shifting classical music culture away from its alpha-male genius complex—but are still enthralled by the music.” Kate Molleson considers “the cult of Karlheinz.”  (The Guardian, 5/21/19; The New York Times, 5/24/19)

Headphones on! Here’s a handy introduction to the leitmotifs of Wagner’s Ring cycle.  (The New York Times, 4/23/19)

Alex Ross considers the quality, and the moral quandary, of the Berlin Philharmonic’s new 22-CD box set of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s radio recordings from 1939–1945.  (The New Yorker, 5/2/19)

“4 new operas in 4 months? Only in Berlin.”  (The New York Times, 4/24/19)

What makes the scene between Wotan and Brünnhilde in Act II of Die Walküre the heart of the Ring Cycle, and also “one of the most profound depictions of a father-daughter relationship in all the arts”? Anthony Tommasini breaks it down.  (The New York Times, 3/19/19)

Nearly two centuries after Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel composed her Easter Sonata, she’s finally getting her due.  (OUPblog, 3/28/19)

In memoriam: Michael Gielen (1927-2019). He was a champion of 20th-century art music and one of the most distinguished conductors of the postwar era.  (Classical Iconoclast, 3/8/19; The New York Times, 3/13/19)