Writing

Program Notes

My program notes have appeared in the books of the San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, and Tippet Rise Art Center.

Recent Notes

  • Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 9, “From the New World”

    In 1885 the New York philanthropist Jeannette Thurber founded the National Conservatory of Music of America, and in 1892 recruited Dvořák to be its director. In the words of H. L. Mencken, he was hired to “introduce Americans to their own music.”


  • Sergei Prokofiev: Overture on Hebrew Themes, Opus 34

    Led by the clarinetist Simeon Bellison, the Zimro Ensemble grew out of the Jewish art music movement. Prokofiev agreed to write a piece for them based on Ashkenazic melodies.


  • Antonio Vivaldi: Winter from The Four Seasons

    You can hear the icy snow and the “harsh breath of a horrid wind.” Rarely if ever before had instrumental music so vividly depicted real-life scenes.


  • George Walker: Lyric for Strings

    George Walker’s Lyric for Strings elegizes his grandmother, who was born into slavery but lived long enough to see her grandson solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra.


  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93

    The longest gap in Dmitri Shostakovich’s symphonic output was the eight years between his Symphony No. 9, in 1945, and No. 10, in 1953. In between, he was denounced by Soviet authorities for a second time, accused of “formalism”—writing music without a proper social purpose.


All Program Notes


Feature Articles

  • Lighting for the Ears

    When Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street begins previews on Broadway in late February, it will be the first time since 1980 that the Stephen Sondheim musical will be revived there with its original orchestration by Jonathan Tunick.


  • Bard Music Festival—and Its World

    The Bard Music Festival offers a point of entry to an entirely different time and place through the eyes of a composer from the past. This past August, the festival marked its 30th anniversary with Korngold and His World.


  • Now Playing: The Birth of Opera

    Opera didn’t exist in 1567, the year of Claudio Monteverdi’s birth. Yet by 1643, the year Monteverdi died, Venetian opera houses were in full swing for paying audiences, representing a musical and cultural transformation in which the old master played no small part.