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

  • Yuja Wang: Piano Works by Messiaen, Scriabin, Debussy, and Chopin

    Olivier Messiaen composed his evening-length piano cycle Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus in 1944 in occupied Paris.


  • Richard Strauss: Ein Heldenleben

    Ein Heldenleben might be the most egotistical piece in the orchestral repertoire—a musical depiction of one Richard Strauss battling villainous music critics, romancing a lady, reminiscing over past triumphs, and settling into a happy ending.


  • George Gershwin: An American in Paris

    “You are to imagine, then, an American, visiting Paris, swinging down the Champs-Elysees on a mild, sunny morning in May or June.”


  • Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

    At the 1961 New York Philharmonic gala, probably the entire Carnegie Hall audience had seen West Side Story, owned the LP, and could hum its tunes. But Bernstein wanted to do more than a medley of hits for this special concert.


  • Johann Sebastian Bach: St. John Passion, BWV 245

    Citizens of Leipzig who attended the 1724 Good Friday Vespers service at St. Nicholas Church would have heard the first performance of St. John Passion, written by the town’s new director of religious music, J.S. Bach.


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.