Exploring Music

Leoš Janáček

Monday, January 14, 2013

One of the most influential (and underrated) Czech composers, Leoš Janáček created a deeply original style of composition that infused his operas, string quartets and symphonic music with Moravian and Slavic folk influences.

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Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

Virgil Thomson on What Makes a Good Music Critic

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Virgil Thomson is the guest on this 1948 edition of The Reader's Almanac. Not Virgil Thomson the composer, though, but Virgil Thomson the critic, whose collection, The Art of Judging Music (1948), had just been published. 

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Classics For Kids

Telemann’s Life

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Georg Philipp Telemann wrote more music than any other classical composer. Learn about the life of this prolific musician this week on Classics for Kids.


Remembering Jazz Icon Dave Brubeck

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Dave Brubeck, one of the most influential and popular figures in jazz, died Wednesday of heart failure in Norwalk, Conn., the day before he would have turned 92 years old. 

Best known for his iconic quartet recordings from the late 1950s and '60s -- particularly on his seminal 1959 album Time Out -- Brubeck brought an inventive polyrhythmic approach to composition that changed the shape and sound of jazz.

"He made the name 'Dave' cool," says Gary Giddins, jazz critic and Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY's Graduate Center. "He made horn-rimmed glasses cool. The guy looked in so many ways to be so square -- and yet he really did become a defining figure that people just gravitated to."

Giddins joins us to remember Brubeck's iconic style in a career that spanned almost seven decades and more than 100 albums and to play three of his favorite songs from the pianist and composer.

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The People Behind The Music Of 'Free To Be...'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The conclusion of our three-part series focuses on the music heard on the 40-year-old album.

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Henry Cowell: An Unknown Great

Friday, October 12, 2012

There's been a lot of talk lately about the late American composer John Cage, whose 100th birthday would have occurred on September 5. But Cage didn’t materialize out of thin air: He found inspiration from the work of another composer, Henry Cowell.

In fact, several generations of America’s most important composers owe a musical -- and perhaps philosophical -- debt to the 20th century innovator. And yet, people who at least know the names of John Cage, or Aaron Copland, or perhaps Charles Ives, have no idea who Cowell was.

Author and conductor Joel Sachs aims to change that with his book Henry Cowell – A Man Made of Music, and he joined us in the studio.


Studio 360

A Conversation with Philip Glass

Friday, September 14, 2012

In 1976, Philip Glass was an unknown composer — almost pushing 40, and driving a taxi to make ends meet — when he got his break: a new work performed at New York’s echt-prestigious Metropolitan Opera House. Einstein on the Beach was directed by Robert Wilson, a key figure ...

Bonus Track: Kurt’s extended conversation with Philip Glass

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Dan Deacon's 'America': A Beautiful Cacophony

Monday, August 13, 2012

Composer and electronic musician Dan Deacon is known for his brilliantly cacophonous sound collages and high-energy dance parties. His forthcoming album is called America - and you can hear him perform some of it live in the Soundcheck studio.

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WQXR Features

Map: See Where Famous Composers Have Lived in NYC

Friday, July 06, 2012

Using our map see where famous composers called home at various points in their lives. Among them: Stravinsky, Bartok, Britten, Bernstein and Herrmann.

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Studio 360

The Many Worlds of Gabriel Kahane

Friday, May 25, 2012

On a given weekend, you might find Gabriel Kahane performing a piano sonata in a concert hall … or stumble upon him at a bar, playing with a rock band. He composes classical music for chamber groups and orchestras — plus he's just written a 1940s era musical which combines ...

Video: “Charming Disease” live in the studio



Gig Alert: Daniel Wohl

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Electroacoustic composer Daniel Wohl performs with Laurel Halo at Glasslands Gallery on Tuesday night. Download his piece "323 (A Laurel Halo edit)" here. 



Free Download: Max Richter

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"Infra 1," by Max Richter

I’m really proud to feature Max Richter for this week’s download. Max is my favorite film composer. He writes these beautiful small pieces that take you into the emotional depths of a moment or a character.

I use him as a guide for scoring this show. Constantly. Like: when I’m stuck scoring a piece and I just can't get the mood or feeling right (which is often) what I’ll do, to hit the reset button, is listen to Max Richter’s 24 Postcards In Full Colour and ask myself, what would Max do here? Sparse piano cords? Subterranean strings?

His music seems to live in the place our stories are always striving to get to – awe, mystery, transformation, illumination. Yeah, I’m pretty much a Max Richter-hack.

"Infra 1" is the first track from an album he released last year called Infra. It’s on the quieter, more fragile end of his spectrum, which is the stuff of his I tend to like most. I hope you enjoy this piece.

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Studio 360

Composer Jennifer Higdon

Friday, July 01, 2011

Jennifer Higdon is a rarity in contemporary classical music: a serious composer with populist appeal. Last year she won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy for two different concertos. And this summer you can hear her work played around the country and...


Studio 360

Jennifer Higdon

Friday, May 07, 2010

Jennifer Higdon recently won the Pulitzer Prize for her musical compositions, yet she didn't pick up a musical instrument - a pawn-shop flute her mother brought home - until she was fifteen. Higdon tells Kurt that her childhood home was more steeped in the Beatles than ...


Studio 360

Musical Magician

Friday, January 29, 2010

Producer T-Bone Burnett has worked with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Elvis Costello. This weekend Burnett is up for two Grammys, including Producer of the Year. He's getting all kinds of acclaim for his soundtrack to the new film "Crazy Heart." Kurt talked to Burnett in ...


Studio 360

Welcome to His Nightmare

Friday, January 29, 2010

Australian (and now Icelandic) composer Ben Frost creates music that is electronic, classical, beautiful, and scary all at the same time. Kurt talks to Frost about his new album, By the Throat.

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Studio 360

Elliott Carter

Friday, February 27, 2009

Classical composer Elliott Carter turned 100 last December - and he's still writing music. When Kurt visited him at his home in the West Village, he found Carter to be plain-spoken, funny, and energetic. And he didn't look a day over 80.


Studio 360

Remembering Rosenman

Friday, December 05, 2008

Composer Leonard Rosenman passed away earlier this year but his scores for films like "East of Eden," "Fantastic Voyage," and "Rebel Without a Cause" live on. Produced by Sara Fishko.

Watch the original "Fantastic Voyage" trailer


Studio 360

Randy Newman

Friday, August 15, 2008

In the last decade, Randy Newman has made new fans writing scores for Pixar movies. But before that, he was confounding listeners with his cheerfully bitter piano songs. After a 9-year hiatus, he’s put out a new record and mixed in some politics too. Newman ...

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Studio 360

The Brains Behind Legally Blonde

Friday, June 08, 2007

It was the sleeper hit of the summer of 2001, and now Legally Blonde is a hit on Broadway. Kurt talks with Nell Benjamin and Lawrence O’Keefe, the husband-and-wife team behind the songs. They’ve been nominated for a Tony, and their life is a ...