Are Musical Geniuses Intrinsically Bullies? 

With terse painful poignancy, Glenn Berger details in Esquire Magazine his memory of musicians being brutally humiliated by Bob Dylan forty years ago at the New York recording sessions for Dylan’s historic album Blood On The Tracks. Berger reports that Dylan called out to the players a song to rehearse, then without warning, switched midstream to a different song. If a musician made mistakes anticipating Dylan’s chords, Dylan waved his hands to silence them, signaling that they were off the album. This…

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Morton Feldman’s 4.5 hour "For Philip Guston" 

If you have an extra four and a half hours—and who doesn’t?—you might want to listen to Morton Feldman’s For Philip Guston, scored for three musicians performing piccolo, flute, bass flute, piano, celesta, glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, and chimes.

Hear Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston
I don’t know critic Alex Ross, but I thank him for this link. He tweeted it as “Some Thoughts About Taylor Swift.” Gotta love that …

Feldman’s music has a real cult following. Its quietness, minimal materials…

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The Missing Quality Found—Garrick Ohlsson’s Chopin Waltz in C# minor 

Garrick Ohlsson’s Chopin Waltz in C# minor

 

What is this missing quality in most concert artists today that seemed in abundance from the 20th century “legends” I heard as a kid—Horowitz, Rubinstein, Segovia, and many others? It can’t be technique or musicianship. Our top artists today have undeniable command of both. But maybe it’s the sense of revelation I used to feel with those earlier artists, the secrets they revealed in each piece, the joy we the audience felt at their concerts combined with deep…

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Ray Kurzweil and Exponential Growth 

Ray Kurzweil and Exponential Growth


Seven and a half years into the Human Genome Project, scientists announced they had decoded only 1% of our genetic code. The project was budgeted for only 15 years. Skeptics said it wouldn’t work; it would take a century to complete.  Ray Kurzweil—inventor, philosopher, futurist—had a different reaction. He said the genome was practically solved. And indeed the mapping was completed in another seven years. The amount of data sequenced each year practically doubled.

 

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No Vocabulary For Music Today? 

Los Angeles New Music Scene May 2014

No Vocabulary For Music Today?

 

Three days of new music concerts, two dozen works—that was the Hear Now Festival of Los Angeles Composers May 2-4 2014. It was scrunched between the LA Philharmonic’s Minimalist Festival, a major Philip Glass concert at UCLA, and dozens of new music concerts at professional halls, schools, and universities. That was all itself a smaller part of a larger LA classical music scene going on simultaneously, that for me reached an apex with a…

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Does Classical Music Need Hooks? 

Does Classical Music Need Hooks?

I’m convinced every article I read these days originates from the satirical paper The Onion.  This week’s national headlines were abuzz with the Colorado Symphony’s plans for a “Classically Cannabis” concert series.  Says the symphony’s CEO, Jerome Kern, "We think it's a great opportunity for the symphony to satisfy two of its needs: to reach a younger, more diverse audience and raise money. We’re not passing judgment on whether smoking marijuana is a good or bad thing."

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Music and the End of Time 

TEDx Talk given at Milken High School
View the talk (begins at approx. 2:51:00)

MUSIC AND THE END OF TIME
Russell Steinberg

 

I think of art, at its most significant, as a Distant Early Warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.
Marshall McLuhan



In our electric age, as we humans “race” in transition to become full cyborgs, the new paradigms emerging in music point the way to what we will both gain and lose as we continue to question what makes…

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Secrets Inside the Brahms Op. 60 Piano Quartet 

Hear the Brahms Piano Quartet in C minor

Brahms Piano Quartet in C Minor, Opus 60 
JOHANNES BRAHMS

The great C minor Piano Quartet, op. 60 shows the art of a lion tamer and is easily one of Brahms’ finest achievements. He began the piece while living with Clara Schumann and helping run the Schumann household while Robert was in the mental asylum. Brahms was candid that the brooding quality of the piece was a direct reference to Werther, Goethe’s Romantic hero of unrequited love who eventually commits…

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Mozart's Marriage of Figaro 

Mozart’s Figaro

Lorenzo Da Ponte’s genius was that while he removed the social taboos and political messages of the Beaumarchais play that offended the royalty, he still pushed right to the edge of morality in nearly every scene of the opera. We sense a tension that the familiarity of the bedroom farce can go off the cliff at any moment into tragedy or irreparable offense. The Countess, Susanna, and Cherubino continually careen near the point of no return in sexual impropriety. But unlike Beaumarchais’…

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The Most Important Musical Invention 

The Most Important Musical Invention

 

Teaching music, you sometimes confront great mysteries. Once a student innocently asked me to explain the difference between major and minor. Two hours later, still enthusiastically into the explanation, I realized it was hopeless. Once beyond the typical and inadequate definitions of major and minor we all learn, this turns out to be a really deep question, and I realized I myself didn’t have a clue. That’s one kind of discovery. Another is when in the process of…

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Steinberg Happenings

Previous events

Oct19

UpBeat Live

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles Philharmonic Prokofiev Symphony 1 ("Classical") Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 Dvorak Symphony No. 7

AFC-LA Composer Winners

Boston Court, 70 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena, CA

Selection from Russell Steinberg's Sacred Transitions http://www.bostoncourt.com/events/220/red-hen-press Los Angeles, CA (June 6, 2014)—The American Composers Forum of Los Angeles (ACF-LA) announces the winners of its 2014 Composition Competition. In alphabetical order they are Mark Abel, Kevin Kelly, Leslie LaBarre, Jeffery Parola, and Russell Steinberg. Their contest entries for voice and piano are scheduled to be performed at Boston Court Performing Arts Center on Tuesday evening, July 15 (time TBA). In addition, Red Hen Press will present poetry readings on the program. The performance is free and open to the public (donations are welcomed). For membership to ACF and other information on the presenting organizations, visit the websites of the American Composers Forum, Red Hen Press, and Boston Court.

Russell Steinberg UpBeat Live/ Sibelius Violin Concerto with Joshua Bell

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA

COSMIC DUST

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