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This tag is associated with 14 posts

The Little Concert Roundup

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has Midori. Need I say more? I thought not, but I will anyway: she’s doing the Bartok violin concerto (praise be to God that it’s not the Mendelssohn!) and then the BSO follows it up with Brahms‘ first symphony. [Some pun about melon liqueur goes here.] April 25 & 26 at the Meyerhoff; April 27 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra counters with a solo pianist: Andreas Haefliger taking on the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1. Plus Tchaikovsky‘s fourth symphony (the “Little Russian” if I’m remembering correctly) and did you know there’s a composer named Wagenaar? Did Wagner know about this? I feel like he would have sued. April 25 – 27. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Jazz drumming; boogie-woogie piano; the Marian Anderson String Quartet. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.


You Can’t Stop the Concert Roundup

  • GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE! This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra‘s BSO Pops bring in none other than Baltimore’s favorite son John Waters to narrate a semi-staged version of his musical Hairspray. Miss Baltimore Crabs, anyone? January 24 at Strathmore, January 25 – 27 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra counters with Mozart (fifth violin concerto performed by Dan Zhu), which is just silly until you notice that the program also features Beethoven (Gross Fuge) and Bartok (Concerto for Orchestra). January 24 – 26.[ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, progressive soul. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

A Concert Roundup My Mom Won’t Like

  • This week, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra wants to ravish you with Rachmaninoff, so get ready for that. Yes, folks, it’s an all-Rachmaninoff program – sorry, Mom! Isle of the Dead, etudes, and his third piano concerto performed by Garrick Ohlsson. January 17 & 20 at the Meyerhoff.  [ See it! ]
  • Or, if you’d rather get just the piano concerto, the BSO is performing another one of their Off the Cuff concerts, wherein in addition to playing the piece you get history, context, and commentary on its creation, form, and place in the musical pantheon from none other than Marin Alsop. January 18 at Strathmore; January 19 the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • The National Symphony Orchestra returns and counters with its own pianist – Tzimon Barto, and I think it it is fair to say he has one of the coolest names ever – playing the Bartok Piano No. 2 – and I think we can say he’s one of the coolest composers ever. So there’s that. Also Beethoven‘s Egmont Overture and Brahm‘s second symphony. January 17 – 19. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: a rock-n-classical string quartet; jazz singers. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Early Concert Roundup Consort

Edited to add that I really should’ve edited this intro before I published. Oh well. Hi!

  • A nifty lineup this week at the Baltimore Symphony OrchestraTchaikovsky‘s fourth symphony, Bartok‘s third piano concerto, and selections from Dvorak‘s Slavonic Dances. Really can’t argue with any of that (unfortunately; I’m so much wittier in opposition). October 19 & 21 at the Meyerhoff; October 20 at Strathmore. [ See it! ]
  • Speaking of the BSO, they’re still looking for people to sign on to their Ambassador program, wherein you receive points for sharing BSO-related content on your social networks; these points can then be turned in for prizes. [ Learn more! ]
  • No National Symphony Orchestra concert this week.
  • The Bach Sinfonia starts of the season with everyone’s favorite Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel, plus works by Avison, Boyce, and BondOctober 21. [ See it! ]
  • This week at Strathmore: late Renaissance and early Baroque music with Guido’s Ear, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, D.C.-area songwriters. [ See the calendar! ]

If you’d like your concert included in next week’s roundup, leave a comment or drop me a line.

Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match


  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*


  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*


  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms


Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

Continue reading

Composer Cagematch! Round 4: Brahms vs. Stravinsky

And so goes the final match of round 3, as I predicted: with Brahms the winner. But Grieg, sir, let it not be said that you didn’t put up a valiant fight. In deference to your heroic effort, we are throwing Brahms directly back into the ring. Immediately! Without rest! Against one hell of a competitor!

Hold on to your hats and glasses, folks, because in this corner, he sent Grieg on a long walk off a short Peer! It’s


And in this corner, he subjugated Bartok! (‘Cause, y’know, the USSR took over Hungary, and… shut up. The Peer one was good.) It’s


Well? Are you a romantic at heart, or are you ruled by new and modern sensibilities?

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Verdi vs. Gershwin

Well. No one can say that wasn’t definitive.

In a contest that probably surprised precisely no one including those that voted for the other guy, Stravinsky took the first match of round 3 away from Bartok. Not that there wasn’t a lot of love for Bela! There was! Just not… y’know… enough. Whereas practically everyone on earth seems to be doodling “Mrs. Igor Stravinsky” in their notebook during study hall (do the kids still have study hall?), his vague rat-face notwithstanding. (Sorry, Igor, but I’m sure you know what you look like; and anyway, you WON, so chillax.) (Do the kids still say chillax?)

Hopefully this one will give you a bit more pause. Wait for it…

Wait for iiiiiiiiit…*

………….. In this corner, he CAN Handel it! It’s


And in this corner, he gave Chopin the chop! It’s


USA vs Italia, people!

UPDATE! I have exciting news! This CC! just got more interesting, because our own medalist of Violar Mr. Stephen P. Brown (Can Moo. Can You?) is offering one lucky winner 20% off the online viewing fee of the Tapestry Tampa Bay concert on March 23! All you need to do to win is comment on this post with the reasoning behind your vote (those who have already commented are automatically entered). One name will be selected at random as the winner, who will be announced along with the weekly viola joke on March 22. Ready? COMMENT!

* This can be a HIMYM reference OR a Psych reference. Dos deuces!

Or Concert Roundup

The letters of the day are “O” and “R.”

  • This week the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra plays Elgar that ISN’T a march from Pomp and Circumstance. Crazy, right? But apparently he also wrote a Serenade for Strings. And if you can’t get behind that, how about the second Bach violin concerto? Or a Mendelssohn octet? March 8 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Or if you prefer, you can catch the BSO outside their gilded cage in the wilds of Frederick on March 10, with the exact same program only for some reason it’s got its own completely separate link. What a bunch of weirdos. [ See it! ]
  • Or! Have kids? I’m sorry; I would’ve counseled against it if you’d asked me beforehand. Ah, well, fait accompli. You’re probably desperate for a means to distract them on weekends; the BSO can help with that too. Their matinee children’s program “Sea Songs” promises shipwrecks, pirates, and Rimsky-Korsakov. March 10 at the Meyerhoff. [ See it! ]
  • Current Cagematch! competitor Bartok in the house! The National Symphony Orchestra’s house, that is. It’s an all Bartok program, with The Miraculous Mandarin and Bluebeard‘s Castle. March 8 – 10; free discussion after the March 8 performance. [ See it! ]
  • Or! On March 9, the NSO offers a rather more varied program. You still get a bunch of Bartok, but you can intersperse it with Kodaly, Liszt, and all the Brahms you can dance, provide your dance is Hungarian. [ See it! ]
  • A smattering of upcoming Strathmore concerts: a jazz quintet, Ugandan song and dance, classical guitar, and Army and Marine bands. [ See the calendar! ]

Composer Cagematch! Round 3: Stravinsky vs. Bartok

AHA! Finally I get a win!

In the last match of the second round, you chose Gershwin over Chopin to advance. Handshakes all ’round, guys. Good show.

And that brings us to round three, everybody — we’re less than ten matches away from crowning a winner. But before we can get started, I’d like to tell you a story.

A few weeks ago I stayed for a bit after ballet class to practice a dance we’re learning set to Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta; absolutely amazing, amazing stuff.* After I had run through it a few times, a lady from class came up to me and said, “So does this music just drive you crazy?”


“This music. It’s so… out there. Like Stravinsky just drives me nuts.”

I made some gentle protest in a nod-and-smile, nod-and-smile sort of way because anyone who doesn’t like Bartok OR Stravinsky should be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats, but whatevs. The point is… well, the point is that… the point is…

…that in this corner, he La Mer-dered Debussy! (All right, hot shot, YOU think of one.) It’s


And in this corner, he wrote Schoenberg a whole new set of compositional rules! It’s


So tell me… how would you like to be driven mad?

*In the interest of fairness I should note that Stravinsky also wrote amazing, amazing stuff. Petrouchka, for example.

The Greatest

Note: By the end of this post I will ask you to create your own list of the top ten composers. I’m ruining the ending for you because I think it might be neat if you do it now, before you’re corrupted by my list or the NYT list or your grocery list or what have you. Just a thought. Thank you; good morning!

Hey, remember how I said the lynchpin of the Composer Cagematch! is not who you feel is the better composer but rather who you love more? Well, put a pin in it. We’re playing a new game now.

A couple weeks ago while at my grandmother’s house my family got into a discussion about who the greatest composers of all time were — greatest, not our favorites. (Yeah, my family has random chats about classical composers — just wait until I tell you about the great Dvorak’s Origins Argument of Thanksgiving 2011. That one still resurfaces from time to time.) My mom pulled up a list from The New York Times music critic to get his top 10. Take a gander here.

His list began with the traditional top three but then had me ducking a few curveballs — Brahms? Really? Then he said in his article he would expect such skepticism — and it got me thinking as to what MY top ten would be. Naturally I don’t mean to say I’m a completely impartial judge (I’d say the immediately preceding sentence already knocked me out of contention for that title), but in making such a list I think one would have to look at quality over blind adoration. You’ll see what I mean.*

So… for now, here’s my top ten. I betcha my list could change as early as tomorrow, but in this moment, here are what I call The Greatest:

  1. Bach
  2. Beethoven
  3. Mozart
  4. Stravinsky
  5. Schubert
  6. Bartok
  7. Shostakovich
  8. Handel
  9. Haydn
  10. Prokofiev

What I find most interesting about this exercise is less about who made it but who didn’t — or rather, which sorts of composers didn’t. I didn’t name a single composer outside the Austro-Hungarian or Soviet area; nary an opera composer to be found. This is the hole in my classical understanding; this teaches me where I need to go next to expand my repertoire — and maybe revise my list once I have.

Well? How do you feel about my list? I expect some fightin’ words as opinions must always create. And what about you? For bonus points, how has your list evolved? If I can remember, I want to make this list up again next year and see if it’s changed. Someone remind me in 11.5 months, okay?

* Do you SEE that? Do you SEE how I put Mozart at number 3, even though he makes me want to sic a fictionalized Salieri on him? He’s there because he was a genius, and even if I don’t dig most of his works, I can recognize that. Incidentally, this is also how I feel about Faulkner.