Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

A “Somewhere” Composer

It’s about a quarter to ten at night on August 17, 2019, and I’m standing outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, smiling. It’s one of those Edinburgh Festival nights when the streets are still crowded but there’s already a foretaste of autumn in the air, a warning chill in the sea breezes that . . . . Continue Reading »

The Lost World of Jazz

Seen today, Jazz on a Summer’s Day shimmers with its glimpses of a world in which people, for all their differences, shared so much. When was the last time so many people got together with such geniality and grace?  Continue Reading »

Soli Deo Gloria

Though I would not dare deviate from Bach’s Passions for Good Friday music listening, I cannot think of a more appropriate recording than Honeck’s “Larghetto for Orchestra” for Holy Saturday. Continue Reading »

Remembering Orchestra Hall

Going to a concert, like going to church or a nice restaurant or traveling on a plane or an overnight train, once meant dressing up and looking your best. We had been taught that dressing up showed respect—and classical music evoked special respect. This had little to do with how much one . . . . Continue Reading »

It Is Enough

The other day, I stumbled across a wonderful live recording of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale), a small theater piece he wrote with the Swiss novelist Charles Ferdinand Ramuz at the end of World War I. I was suddenly flooded with memories of the elaborately . . . . Continue Reading »

Sondheim’s Cynicism

When Stephen Sondheim died in late November at ninety-one, the eulogies, tributes, and bouquets from critics and ­tastemakers were entirely expected. The Broadway composer and lyricist left the Earth having earned multiple Tonys and Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize, an Oscar, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles