“There’s a reason why Adorno’s defenders might gravitate toward depression, unpleasantness, or both: his world is a huge bummer. But so is ours.”  (The Baffler, 11/22/19)

Kudos to Heartbeat Opera in NYC for their new take on Der Freischütz: “A fantastic work about the end of the Thirty Years’ War, magic bullets, and winning women with violence has taken on, with remarkably little adaptation necessary, hot-button issues like gun culture, toxic masculinity and the plight of returning soldiers.”  (The New York Times, 11/28/19; The New York Times, 12/5/19)

“Strauss and Hofmannsthal operatically imagined in 1919 the possible relevance of a spiritually dedicated empress for the 20th century, her beauty embellished by harps and tuned to a solo violin in the key of E-flat.” You’ll want to see Die Frau ohne Schatten after reading this piece by Larry Wolff.  (The New York Times, 10/12/19)

Thirty years later, David Hasselhoff is still looking for freedom in Berlin.  (The Guardian, 10/8/19; NPR, 11/8/19; The Washington Post, 12/17/19)

The Bauhaus may have never had a proper music department, but “musical thinking permeated the lives of its students and faculty.”  (The New York Times, 8/22/19)

It’s Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday—celebrate by listening to Isata Kanneh-Mason’s new recording of her best piano music.  (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/10/19; The New York Times, 8/28/19;  The Guardian, 9/12/19)

In praise of Richard Strauss’s Salome: “The score is at once staggeringly original, more than a little trashy, and unsettling in its sexual and racial politics. When the clarinet slithers up a disjointed scale at the outset of the piece, the curtain effectively goes up on twentieth-century music.”  (The New Yorker, 8/21/19)

“He does not give press interviews. He does not schmooze with artists. He releases hardly any recordings.” Meet the Berlin Philharmonic’s astonishingly shy new chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko.  (The Guardian, 8/25/19; The New York Times, 8/26/19; The New Yorker, 9/9/19)

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. Burrage 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)