The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is the start of Fall. Here is autumnal music by Richard Strauss. Plus, UW-Madison soprano Jeanette Thompson makes her FREE debut tonight at 7 p.m. in Mills Hall.

September 22, 2017
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ALERT: UW-Madison faculty soprano Jeanette Thompson gives her FREE debut recital tonight at 7 p.m.  in Mills Hall. Guest performers are pianist Thomas Kasdorf and faculty colleague baritone Paul Rowe.

Thompson has put together a concert of some of her favorite love songs, though not always typical of love songs:  some of them are about a love that is lost, some of them are about a love desired, and some of them are about a love for God.

These songs include excerpts from Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder and Johannes Brahms’ Volksbuchlieder. In addition to Rückert, they include some of her favorite poets like Charles Baudelaire and Eduard Möricke. She will perform songs by Cole Porter and George Gershwin, and will be joined by baritone Paul Rowe to sing two of the most beautiful “Porgy and Bess” love duets ever written.

Thompson (below) will conclude the concert with some of her favorite spirituals, including her mother’s favorite song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.“

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the autumnal equinox, which arrives at 3:02 p.m. CDT. It marks when the day has an equal amount of daylight and night.

It also means that today is the first official day of Fall.

And despite the hot weather right now, Fall is often a great time to start returning to indoor activities.

That makes it a good time for listening to classical music.

There are the usual candidates such as Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and its modern counterpart “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by tango master Astor Piazzolla.

If you want to hear other season-appropriate music, YouTube, Spotify, and other websites have generous compilations. Just Google “classical music for autumn.”

But today The Ear want to feature just one selection to celebrate the season. It is soprano Jessye Norman singing “September” from “Four Last Songs” by Richard Strauss.

What is you favorite music to greet autumn with?

Use the COMMENT section to let us know, along with a link to a video performance if possible.

Classical music: Steinway will remain Steinway, says John Paulson, the new billionaire hedge fund owner of the famed piano company.

December 27, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Talk about branding!

Is there any piano with more prestige than Steinway, whether it is the New York branch of the family or the Hamburg branch?

Steinway Grand Piano

What aspiring serous pianist doesn’t dream of being a “Steinway’ artist” like Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Rudolf Serkin, Van Cliburn, Emanuel Ax and so many others.

But maybe you remember that in the 1970s, CBS took over the company and used such “new and improved” things as Teflon couplings that led to many problems.

So people are rightly guarded about the new Steinway owner, a billionaire manager of a hedge fund manager who would seem more concerned about making money than preserving the nitpicky artistic quality, which you can get an idea of from the YouTube video tour at the bottom that is narrated by a member of the Steinway family.

But preserving artistic quality of the handmade and painstakingly assembled Steinway piano (below top) is exactly what John Paulson (below bottom), the new owner of Steinway, vows to share, and adds that such first-rate quality is exactly why he wanted to buy the company.

steinway piano inside

john paulson

That kind of vow is the ultimate Christmas gift to pianists around the world. Makes you wonder: Does John Paulson play the pain? How well? Is he a pianophile?

Here is a link to the interview and story about Steinway that appeared on NPR:

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