In memoriam: photographer Astrid Kirchherr (1938-2020). “In a dingy, disreputable Hamburg bar, amid the noise and squalor, she detected something beautiful.”  (The New York Times, 5/16/20; The Guardian, 5/19/20)

In memoriam: Florian Schneider (1947-2020), co-founder of Kraftwerk. “Few people could have claimed to have exerted as much musical influence while remaining so enigmatic.”  (The Guardian, 5/6/20; Rolling Stone, 5/6/20; The Quietus, 5/7/20)

“The Berlin Philharmonic tests a musical path out of lockdown,” with a livestreamed concert featuring soprano Christiane Karg and a much reduced, socially distanced ensemble.  (The New York Times, 5/1/20)

“With Brahms, everything passes through layers of reflection. He is the great poet of the ambiguous, in-between, nameless emotions . . . In a repertory full of arrested adolescents, he is the most adult of composers.”  (The New Yorker, 4/16/20)

The Ensemble Avantgarde has released a new collection of chamber music by composer Paul Dessau.  (The New York Times, 4/8/20)

“While there are no over-the-top costumes, sweaty high-fives between strangers or sex by the dancefloor, there are a few perks to virtual clubbing: no long queues or bouncers denying entry.”  (The Guardian, 4/3/20)

In memoriam: Hellmut Stern, violinist and longtime concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He returned to his home city after years in exile, setting “a unique example of reconciliation and forgiveness.”  (The New York Times, 3/31/20)

The cultural venues may be closed, but Covid-19 has opened up their performances to wider (online) audiences than ever before.  (The Guardian, 3/16/20)

John Eliot Gardiner explains how he rediscovered Beethoven’s radicalism with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.  (The New York Times, 2/14/20)

Jaromir Weinberger’s Frühlingsstürme, “the last operetta of the Weimar Republic,” is back on stage at the Komische Oper.  (The New York Times, 1/26/20)

“The cruel isolation of deafness created the possibility of writing music that slipped the bonds of earth to touch the face of God. That Beethoven grasped his opportunity is an achievement almost beyond comprehension.”  (The Spectator, 1/11/20)

“When he conducts, Kirill Petrenko presents a paradox: How can an artist so mysteriously shy and monastic offstage manage to steal the spotlight whenever he’s on?”  Here’s a check-in with the celebrated conductor, “deep into his inaugural season” with the Berlin Philharmonic.  (The New York Times, 1/24/20)

“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)