There’s a new recording of a Paul Dessau opera that was absent from stages for far too long: “Involving more than 30 solo singing roles, a nine-part chorus and a huge orchestra, as well as dancers and actors, Lanzelot was one of the most ambitious operas ever mounted in the GDR.”  (The Guardian, 1/12/23)

“For devotees of fiendish musical modernism, Bernd Alois Zimmermann was one of the 20th century’s most notorious—and at times elusive—composers.” A new 3-CD set reveals something surprising: “a Zimmermann who smiles.”  (The New York Times, 12/27/22)

“Part of the fascination of listening to [Bruno] Walter’s conducting now . . . lies in hearing him reinvent the traditions he was said to embody.” A 77-disc box set follows his interpretations of the symphonic classics over decades.  (The New York Times, 11/2/22)

Underappreciated composer Othmar Schoeck “seemed most himself when he was ambling through the German Romantic twilight, his seductive melodic inventions tinged vaguely by irony, by aerial quotation marks. His music is suffused with a sense of having arrived too late in the day.”  (The New Yorker, 10/6/22)

It’s taken a millennium and a particularly scandal-ridden 20th century—but the elite Regensburger Domspatzen choir and school is now accepting girls.  (NPR, 9/15/22)

Karl Bartos recalls his innovative musical career in The Sound of the Machine: My Life in Kraftwerk and Beyond, translated into English by Katy Derbyshire.  (The Guardian, 8/3/22; Clash, 8/8/22)

“Performing classical music, or listening to it, has never been an apolitical act. But the idea that it might be flourished in the wake of World War II, thanks in part to the process of denazification, the Allied initiative to purge German-speaking Europe of Nazi political, social and cultural influence.”  (The New York Times, 4/15/22)

Perennial questions about music and politics gain new urgency: “What is the point at which cultural exchange—always a blur between being a humanizing balm and a tool of propaganda, a coopting of music’s supposed neutrality—becomes unbearable? What is sufficient distance from authoritarian leadership?”  (The New York Times, 3/2/22; The New Yorker, 3/3/22)

Eugen Engel was murdered at Sobibor in 1943. His opera Grete Minde, recently discovered in a San Francisco basement, has just had its world premiere at the Theater Magdeburg.  (J, 2/7/22; The Guardian, 2/14/22)

Heroism, love, and freedom in the face of injustice: Already inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Heartbeat Opera’s updated Fidelio “is now permeated with it, and the adaptation is even more powerful.”  (The New York Times, 2/14/22)

Meet conductor Hans Rosbaud: “His public stature has never approached the private respect in which musicians held him, in part because of his advocacy for music that has never really caught on.”  (The New York Times, 1/13/22)

Why does Kraftwerk belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? “Rather than mastering and transforming the music of the 20th century’s first half, they invented the rock and roll of the future.”  (Open Culture, 11/10/21)

A 55-CD box set gives us new occasion to reflect on the complicated legacy of conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, whose “sublime artistry . . . collided with his role as de facto chief conductor of the Nazi regime.”  (The New York Times, 10/14/21)

“The Isarphilharmonie, designed for temporary use but with a potential future after the Gasteig’s reopening, was designed to hold its own among Germany’s important concert halls.”  (The New York Times, 10/12/21)

Tresor is turning 30, and there’s a 12-record set of new and classic techno to help you celebrate. (DJ, 9/30/21; The Guardian, 10/5/21)

A fresh take on the Dreigroschenoper at the Berliner Ensemble? Yes, please! Director Barrie Kosky “adds and subtracts, breathing new life into a work that desperately needed it.”  (The New York Times, 8/5/21; The New York Times,  8/15/21)

“Why would any self-respecting woman perform Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben?” Carolyn Sampson makes a well-considered case. (The Guardian, 4/13/21)

“My obsession with Rammstein annoyed and worried my parents in equal measure,” writes Keza MacDonald, “and over the next few years gifted me with a German vocabulary that my high-school teacher memorably described as ‘extraordinary, if unrepeatable.'” (The Guardian, 3/1/21)

“A debate about racism, musicology, free speech and the music theorist Heinrich Schenker” is roiling academia and making international news. (The New York Times, 2/14/21)

The 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth is safely behind us—time for a less reverential look at “how our Beethoven obsession took hold.”  (The New Yorker, 1/19/21)

“With a warehouse that produced 50 to 65 grand pianos a year, Nannette Streicher’s firm was considered by many to be the finest in Vienna.”  (The New York Times, 11/6/20)

“Like operagoers across the generations, filmmakers have had trouble deciding whether Wagner is an exhaustible store of wonder or a bottomless well of hate. But that uncertainty also mirrors the film industry’s own ambiguous role as an incubator of heroic fantasies, which can serve a wide range of political ends.”  (The New Yorker, 8/24/20)

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, the last known living member of the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz, will deliver a (virtual) speech at the Salzburg music festival, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.  (The New York Times, 8/13/20)

“You’ve heard of Shakespeare in the Park. How about Wagner in the Parking Lot?” Germany’s opera companies get creative to meet the demands of social distancing.  (The New York Times, 7/15/20)

“The lesson of [Marian] Anderson’s time in Europe is stunning in its simplicity and, for that reason, has been easy to dismiss. She showed up. . . And she delivered what was becoming increasingly difficult to showcase amid so much racial violence: a brilliant demonstration of her full humanity at a time when white supremacists wanted to deny it.”  (The New Yorker, 7/15/20)

In praise of the Schlager: “Germany’s most embarrassing musical genre,” and a “bright, shiny thread . . . in the fabric of pop music.”  (The Guardian, 7/8/20)

“German theaters have the artistic drive as well as the means, thanks to generous government subsidies, to insist that the show go on.” (The New York Times, 5/19/20; The Guardian, 5/29/20; The New York Times, 7/2/20)

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)