Classic

Prolific and multifaceted British composer and conductor Peter Maxwell Davies died Monday at age 81 at his home in the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland. His death, from leukemia, was reported on the websites of both his publisher and his management company.

The harpsichord was eclipsed first by the fortepiano in the 18th century and eventually by the modern grand, but that doesn't mean the instrument is out of sight or out of mind.

You might call it old wine in new bottles, but what sweet, masterfully crafted wine it is. Upheld by Stillness, the debut album by the young and vibrant British a cappella choir ORA, presents a contemporary twist on a 16th-century classic.

Widely influential conductor and early-music specialist Nikolaus Harnoncourt has died at age 86 in the Austrian village of St. Georgen im Attergau, near Salzburg.

The Ballroom Thieves is a folk trio with a cellist at its core. Singer Calin Peters and her bandmates, guitarist Martin Earley and percussionist Devin Mauch, have now teamed up with the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra on a music video for its song "Bury Me Smiling," and the combination makes for a compelling song.

British composer Anna Meredith produces so many types of works that attempts at a simple summary of what sort of musician she is are laughable, almost quaint.

Hungarian conductor Iván Fischer has strong opinions about his homeland, from its music to its politics.

Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee is known for portraying kings and princes. But lately he's been thinking about real people: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, to name a few.

When Franz Liszt wrote The Fountains of the Villa d'Este, he added a Latin quotation from the Gospel of St. John. It says: "But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life." That composition is featured on the newest album by French pianist Helene Grimaud, called Water.

A Voice You Can Feel

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly, you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

Nicholas McCarthy was born without his right hand. Pursuing the piano would not exactly appear to be the most intuitive career choice. And yet that is exactly what the 26-year-old British pianist has done. His debut album, Solo, will be released next week.

McCarthy's "Aha!" piano moment came relatively late, at age 14, after he heard a friend play Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata. In a flash, he saw his future. He was determined to become a concert pianist.

Benjamin Clementine On World Cafe

Jan 27, 2016

A Mercury Prize-winning musician, Benjamin Clementine worked his way up from playing the streets of Paris to performing in clubs and festivals. Clementine's theatrical voice is often compared to that of Nina Simone, whom the singer admits he didn't know about until people mentioned the comparison.

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 1902 when the Philadelphia Orchestra made its debut at Carnegie Hall. Music by Tchaikovsky was on the program and on the podium was Fritz Scheel, the first leader of an orchestra founded just two years before.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released, but you can hear an excerpt below via YouTube.

The title of Daniel Wohl's "Source" is something of a play on words. The actual sources of his captivating array of sounds are not completely clear. But it doesn't really matter. Just let the meticulously crafted, slightly surreal music from the Paris-born, Los Angeles-based composer soak in.

French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez was one of the most recognized figures in 20th century classical music. His outspoken advocacy for the music of his time earned him fans — and detractors. He died Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. He was 90 years old.

Just as the chaos of World War II was coming to an end, Pierre Boulez was emerging into his life as an artist.

Although 2015 produced arguably fewer big headlines in classical music than its predecessors, there were still surprising stories.

The question of assimilation has been on my mind a lot lately. Living in this great country where individuality is embraced, our current obsession with assimilation for those choosing the U.S. as their new home seems like a strange paradox.

In Memoriam 2015

Dec 30, 2015

Many musical voices fell silent in 2015. We lost soul singers and opera stars, blues and folk guitarists, saxophonists and percussionists, plus composers, conductors, producers, and other visionaries. Explore their musical legacies here.


Diane Charlemagne

Feb. 22, 1964 — Oct. 28, 2015

Ryuichi Sakamoto has been a film composer for more than 30 years. His résumé includes Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Wuthering Heights, and three films by Bernardo Bertolucci, including The Last Emperor, which won Sakamoto an Oscar. But he hasn't done an American studio film since 1992 — until now.

Kurt Masur, a former music director of the New York Philharmonic, died Saturday from complications from Parkinson's disease at a hospital in Greenwich, Conn. His death was announced by the New York Philharmonic.

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