The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Composer Philip Glass, 78, writes a fascinating memoir of his training, struggle and acceptance as a “minimalist” musician.

April 19, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Not a lot of musicians write well. It’s probably because they prefer to let their music-making do their communicating.

But one notable exception is the “minimalist” composer Philip Glass (below), whose new volume of memoirs is being praised for its insights and for its engaging, articulate style. (A good sample of his speaking, composing and playing is in the YouTube  video at the bottom.)

Phlip Glass 2015

Recently, Glass did a 46-minute interview for Terry Gross and her “Fresh Air” program on NPR (National Public Radio.) He discussed his early days composing and performing as well his training with famed French teacher Nadia Boulanger.

Philip Glass book cover

The NPR story has the interview plus some highlights from the interview and also some excerpts from the book “Words Without Music.

The Ear thinks that Glass, now 78, emerges as a very thoughtful and perceptive man who is also droll and self-deprecating.

See what you think.

Here is a link to the NPR story:

And here is a highly positive review of the book that appeared in The New York Times:

What do you think of Philip Glass and his music? His memoirs?

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music news: Maurice Sendak loved classical music, especially Verdi and Mozart, and, yes, he was gay.

May 12, 2012
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ALERT: Just a reminder that today 2-6 p.m. is the FREE and PUBLIC “Curtain Down Party” and Open House at the Wisconsin Union Theater. Here are links to news releases and stories about the event. My own thoughts about the WUT’s history and future were in yesterday’s posting:

By Jacob Stockinger

Ever since he died this week at 83 of complications from a stroke, the famed children’s book writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak (below) has been featured in many tributes in the old and new media — and rightfully so.

I love listening to his voice, his articulate conversation and quick thinking. Just listen to the hour that Terry Gross and “Fresh Air” on NPR devoted to old interviews he did.

And The Huffington Post compiled some of Sendak’s most memorable and self-effacing quotes:

But other sources, with less of a high-profile, also discussed other aspects of Sedak and his art.

One is the famed classical music radio station WQXR in New York City, where Sendak was born and lived his whole life.

Sendak told a blogger at WQXR how much he loved classical music, especially Mozart and Verdi. He even collaborated on various musical projects including one with contemporary British composer Oliver Knussen.

Here is a link:!/blogs/wqxr-blog/2012/may/08/classical-music-fueled-maurice-sendak-muse/

And the question I kept hearing was whether Maurice Sendak was gay.

Well, it took him a long time to make a public statement, but he did it recently on The Colbert Report. Take a listen not only to Sendak’s wit and humor but also to absolute candor.

Here is a link to Be sure to listen to the blog but especially to listen to the clip from the Colbert Report at the bottom:

That kind of emotional honesty, I am convinced, was also one of the qualities that permeated Sendak’s own books and accounted for his popularity and prestige.

We adults are The Wild Things and we are sad at his passing,

Even more than children, it is adults who will miss Maurice Sendak.  He embodied the kind of cosmopolitan intelligence and tolerant creativity that we see too rarely in our increasingly anti-intellectual society.

In honor of Sendak and his musical taste, here is the finale from Verdi’s opera “Falstaff,” a character who seems as lusty for life and as larger-than-life as Sendak himself:

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