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
June 2, 2009

Summer, they say, is the time to unwind and relax. Whether you choose to do so at the beach, in your garden hammock, or at the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome, you’ll certainly welcome music to carry you one step farther toward infinite bliss. Here, then, is a Critic’s Choice classical potpourri specially tailored for the summer season. J.S. Bach: Six Concertos for the Margrave of Brandenburg • Trevor Pinnock: European Brandenburg Ensemble • Avie (AV 2119)

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Feature Article
May 26, 2009

Has Porgy and Bess finally arrived? Despite its troubled history, George Gershwin’s 1935 opera may be coming into its own at last. As the San Francisco Opera prepares three full productions and a concert running May 29 – July 5 at the War Memorial Opera House, Porgy seems poised to emerge as the jewel in the summer season crown.

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Feature Article
May 19, 2009

His life and musicmaking were inextricably entwined with the Viennese milieu of his time, in both its artistic richness and its provincialism. In his life he faced illness, felt a strong sense of fate governing him at times, and met a tragic, early death.

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Feature Article
May 12, 2009

When it comes to classical music and opera, we enlightened ones are supposed to be color-blind. Regardless of our race, the racial characteristics of singers and musicians are not supposed to matter … some of the time.

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Feature Article
May 5, 2009

Concert audiences can hear the seemingly impossible sound of a singer, watch a pianist type out an incomprehensible profusion of tones, be moved by someone scrubbing on a very little box, or survive an evening where, in spite of the band’s best efforts, it all falls apart. Yet audiences are willing and eager to ascribe a concert’s overall success to a conductor — the one individual on stage who (we hope) produces no sound at all.

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Kids & Families Feature
April 28, 2009

Like a lot of us, monkeys generally prefer a Russian lullaby to German techno music. But given a choice between music and silence, the apes opt for quiet. It seems their brains simply aren’t wired to enjoy music or pay it much mind. “They don’t care about it,” said Vinod Menon, the noted Stanford neuroscientist who’s deeply engaged in research on music and the brain.

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Feature Article
April 21, 2009

Economic times are tough these days, for sure. But watching expenses doesn’t necessarily mean giving up one of the finer pleasures of life: music performed live. Research suggests that listening to music has a beneficial effect on the listener, even stimulating the release of serotonin, which leads to a sense of well-being.

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Feature Article
April 7, 2009

Being funny, it seems, is serious business. Many years ago, I prepared an audition piece for a critique by an acting coach. My tastes in selecting arias and songs ran to the lugubrious, and someone suggested Dinah’s aria from Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. As I was singing it for my coach, I noticed she was laughing her head off.

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Feature Article
March 31, 2009

The composer Kurt Weill and the city of Berlin are often mentioned in the same breath. Both the composer and the city are icons of the Weimar Republic, the name given to Germany’s government between 1919 and 1933.

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