Music Articles

Every week, our writers take an in‐depth look at an artist, program or topic of interest to us. Spend some time with this week's classical music feature, or scroll through the extensive SFCV archive for insights in many music topics.


Feature Article
August 14, 2007

You have to be a bit of a high-stakes gambler to be an opera composer. You spend a long time, probably several years at least, carefully putting together a project, writing and revising it, and seeing it through to performance (assuming it's been accepted for production). And then, even if the first audiences applaud it — not necessarily a given — its future is uncertain.And the same thing is true for an opera company. Commission a work, and win the prestige of having performed it. But
later see it disappear into the ether, along with money, sets, and costumes.

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Feature Article
August 6, 2007

This article is excerpted from the new book Why Classical Music Still Matters (University of California Press, 2007).

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Feature Article
July 31, 2007

This article is excerpted from the new book Why Classical Music Still Matters (University of California Press, 2007).

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Feature Article
July 24, 2007

The cellist David Finckel remembers the first time he heard the Escher String Quartet. It was on an audition DVD. Intrigued, he arranged to watch them play. "I thought, 'Wow, they are very young, but they sound good. We can work with them,' " says Finckel, who codirects the summer festival [email protected] with his wife, the pianist Wu Han. "So we accepted them for a two-week residency the Emerson Quartet does at Stony Brook University [in New York]."

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Feature Article
July 17, 2007

The cellist David Finckel remembers the first time he heard the Escher String Quartet. It was on an audition DVD. Intrigued, he arranged to watch them play. "I thought, 'Wow, they are very young, but they sound good. We can work with them,' " says Finckel, who codirects the summer festival [email protected] with his wife, the pianist Wu Han. "So we accepted them for a two-week residency the Emerson Quartet does at Stony Brook University [in New York]."

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Feature Article
July 10, 2007

The eminent Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos raises his baton on opening night at Symphony Hall in Boston. Before a single note sounds, a cell phone rings. Frühbeck's shoulders slump, and he waits appropriately for a new starting point. As he raises his baton once more, the same cell phone rings again. He turns and glares — our offender is in the pricey seats up front — but mister no-clue actually takes the call this time, and everyone can hear him say, "I'm in Symphony Hall right now, and I may have to call you back later."

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Feature Article
July 3, 2007

The eminent Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos raises his baton on opening night at Symphony Hall in Boston. Before a single note sounds, a cell phone rings. Frühbeck's shoulders slump, and he waits appropriately for a new starting point. As he raises his baton once more, the same cell phone rings again. He turns and glares — our offender is in the pricey seats up front — but mister no-clue actually takes the call this time, and everyone can hear him say, "I'm in Symphony Hall right now, and I may have to call you back later."

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Feature Article
June 26, 2007

The San Francisco Symphony's festival this month, "Russian Firebrand, Russian Virtuoso: The Music of Prokofiev," conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, features, quite appropriately, four pianists (Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltsman, Mikhail Rudy, and Ilya Yakushev) who, like Prokofiev, grew up or received their musical training in Russia (or in two cases, the former republics of the Soviet Union).

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Feature Article
June 19, 2007

The San Francisco Symphony's festival this month, "Russian Firebrand, Russian Virtuoso: The Music of Prokofiev," conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, features, quite appropriately, four pianists (Yefim Bronfman, Vladimir Feltsman, Mikhail Rudy, and Ilya Yakushev) who, like Prokofiev, grew up or received their musical training in Russia (or in two cases, the former republics of the Soviet Union).

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Feature Article
June 12, 2007

It's an ironic fact that these days, Handel's operas are being triumphantly presented around the world, while Christoph Gluck's are mostly ignored. Handel, for all his musical glories, was old-school opera seria — castrato singers in the primary roles, convoluted plots and subplots, and stand-and-deliver arias, one after another. Gluck, on the other hand, was the primary ignition switch on modern operatic ideology.

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