Michael Cirigliano II is the website editor in the Digital Media Department.
Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Composers of opera and orchestral music have always been able to draw from the never-ending well of great literature to convey a wealth of emotion and overtly programmatic elements (Benjamin Britten's operas The Turn of the Screw, Death in Venice, and Billy Budd; Richard Strauss's tone poem Don Juan; Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture), but instrumental chamber music seldom gains access to such source material. Chief among these few rare examples are the two string quartets of the Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854–1928), with each quartet using the written word as a resource for conveying both mood and emotion while still maintaining their primary role as abstract music.
Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Despite its immense popularity in the worlds of both classical music and pop culture, Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations is actually not a work that is regularly performed or recorded. A seminal statement of Baroque keyboard composition, the sprawling, seventy-minute collection of an aria and thirty variations remains a heralded benchmark of technical virtuosity and musical intelligence for which few pianists confidently rise to the occasion. Even soloist Jeremy Denk, one of the most respected pianists on the global concert circuit today, remarked that "the Goldberg Variations have caused me more misery than any other piece of music in history . . ." However, New York audiences have a chance to encounter this masterwork right here at the Met on November 21, when pianist Christopher Taylor presents The Goldberg Variations: The Double Manual Experience in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.
Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Few composers have an output of chamber music with such singular impact as Franz Joseph Haydn's string quartet cycle. The sixty-eight quartets, written over the course of nearly forty years, are so revered in the musical canon that the composer has become well known as the "Father of the String Quartet." As part of their yearlong relationship with the Museum, Attacca Quartet—the Met Museum Presents 2014–15 Quartet in Residence—will perform two concerts of Haydn's music which will include three quartets as well as the string-quartet version of the transformative Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, presented with an evocative video environment by Ofri Cnaani.
Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Numerous representations of the sea are woven into the work of Claude Debussy (1862–1918). The French composer regularly referenced his awe of the sea and its power, and even noted that he had "intended for the noble career of a sailor" in a 1912 letter to close friend and composer André Messager. Although the sea had already played a recurring character throughout much of his piano music, the first appearance of this subject in Debussy's orchestral output was the final movement of his 1899 work Trois Nocturnes, "Sirènes," in which he gave life to the deadly mythological seductresses by adding a wordless female choir to the standard orchestral forces.
Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014
"Feel the World Stand Still"
This phrase is currently emblazoned on subway ads across New York City promoting the Arvo Pärt Project at St. Vladimir's Seminary, which will bring the Estonian composer to New York for the first time since 1984. While this kind of dramatic hyperbole often surrounds any discourse regarding Pärt's music—"mystical," "heavenly," "timeless" are frequently used—the overwhelming acceptance of his work is a rare occurrence in the landscape of contemporary concert performance. His is a music that seamlessly bridges the gap between the modern and the ancient, minimalism and Gregorian chant, making the comparisons often cited between Pärt's music and that of both Phillip Glass and Josquin dez Prez the equivalent of an artist being equally heralded alongside Rothko and Caravaggio.
Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014
The mid-nineteenth century was a period of incredible stagnation for French music, especially for those composers working in the vocal arts. Only five new French operas were commissioned by the Opéra Comique in Paris between 1852 and 1870, and France had yet to forge their own style of art song, despite the widespread interest German composers had developed in the musical form earlier in the century. However, the passage of multiple revolutions and failed empires in the mid-nineteenth century gave French artists across all disciplines a spectrum of intense emotions to convey, and the wealth of art song in the country quickly began to accumulate.