Sunday, February 24, 2013
German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch, acclaimed for his musical brilliance and unpretentious leadership of the Bavarian State Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra, has died. He was 89.
Friday, February 08, 2013
By Brian Wise
James DePreist, one of the first African-American conductors to have a major career, despite two significant physical ailments, died Friday in Scottsdale, AZ.
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Stuart Freeborn, the make up artist and visual creator of movie characters such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, died yesterday. He was 98. Freeborn turned actor Ron Moody into the street thief Fagin for the Musical Oliver, and he also captured movie-goer imaginations back in 1948 when he made Sir Alec Guinness into Fagin in David Lean's Oliver Twist.
Friday, February 01, 2013
Ed Koch, the three-time mayor of New York, died this morning at the age of 88. His 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.
Friday, February 01, 2013
By Jim O'Grady
When Ed Koch became mayor of New York City, he decided that what the city needed was a leader with an active will and gigantic personality. Specifically, his. He died Friday at 88.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The year 2012 saw the passing of singers, composers, violinists, authors and critics, among others who contributed to classical music. Click on the arrows below to scroll through the slideshow.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Ravi Shankar, legendary sitar master who played alongside The Beatles, John Coltrane and Yehudi Menuhin, died Tuesday at the age of 92. Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflects on the life and music of Shankar.
Listen back to two archival interviews conducted by Schaefer on his program New Sounds -- one from 1984, the other from 1996.
The first time I met Ravi Shankar, he told the story of the first time he met Baba Allaudin Khan, the man who would become his guru, and later, his father-in-law. Khan began, Shankar recalled, "by rebuking me. He said I was like a butterfly, doing too many things." Shankar was a 15-year old dancer in his brother Uday Shankar's troupe, which in the 1930s first brought Indian music and dance to the West. He also sang, played flute, and sitar -- all by ear. Khan told him that when he was ready to settle down and commit to one thing, he would accept Shankar as a student. It was, he said, a difficult decision, and it took a couple of years, but he eventually committed to the sitar.
Fortunately for us, Ravi Shankar never stopped doing "too many things." While he did become the most famous sitarist and perhaps the most globally-renowned non-Western artist of our time, he also composed film scores, collaborated with leading classical, rock, jazz and traditional Japanese musicians, and even wrote electronic music and played a bit of synthesizer.
"When I play the sitar," Shankar said during one of his many visits to our studio, "I am a purist, orthodox, very traditional. But as a composer I'm not frightened of experimenting with new sounds. It excites me to hear a whole range of instruments."
This was a hard-won wisdom. In the wake of becoming The Beatles "cult guru," to use his phrase, Shankar found himself in a range of unusual settings. Booked into huge rock festivals, he admitted to being discomfited by the sheer volume of the music and the rampant drug use that accompanied much of it. Though he did say he liked The Mamas & The Papas and some of the other, more melodic groups, I got the strong impression that he would not have willingly sat through another Jimi Hendrix set. After Woodstock, when he saw half a million young people "in the mud, and no one in their right mind," Shankar insisted to his overeager managers that he would not do any more rock festivals.
So for much of the 1970s, Shankar kept a relatively low profile, and when he returned in the '80s, he found that the wave of raga-rock excess has crested, and left behind in its wake a much smaller, but still substantial, number of listeners who were genuinely interested in and moved by his music. When he marked his 50th anniversary of performing, he seemed as energized as ever. Every night, he said, meant a different audience, and that kept it new for him.
Shankar passed on his musical genes. His son Shubho passed away in 1992 at the age of 50, but had toured with Ravi and had proven himself a worthy musical companion. His daughters, Anoushka Shankar and singer Norah Jones have each come into their own in the last decade -- Norah of course with a boatload of Grammy Awards and Anoushka as a globetrotting, risk-taking sitarist very much cut from her father's cloth.
And finally, Ravi Shankar taught. You can take that any way you want: He literally taught music to students in school and in private. But he also taught several generations of Westerners to appreciate the beauty and tradition of Indian music. On an even more basic level, he taught us that just because music doesn't come from your culture doesn't mean it can't be yours.
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.
Friday, August 03, 2012
When news broke last week that Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, had died, the world learned something new about the pioneering astronaut: that Dr. Ride was in fact a lesbian, survived by her partner of 27 years. Bob speaks to The New York Times obituaries editor Bill McDonald about how much obituaries should explore the private lives of public people.
Michael Linnen - Cantus for Bob Hardison
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
It’s a song that’s so infectious, so a part of the American vernacular, it’s hard not to whistle along. For nearly a decade, it served as the opening theme to The Andy Griffith Show. No doubt, many of us whistled it when we heard of Andy Griffith’s passing yesterday.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Maurice Sendak, the children's book author and illustrator who saw the sometimes-dark side of childhood in books like "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen," died early Tuesday. He was 83.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Hundreds of friends and fans of Levon Helm, who died last week of cancer, are traveling to his Woodstock home and barn where he held his Saturday night Midnight Ramble concerts to say goodbye to the influential singer and drummer for The Band.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
By Richard Hake
Some consider Amos Vogel the leading figure of modern film culture as he ushered in political and experimental films as well as documentaries in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Charles W. Colson, Watergate mastermind turned Evangelical leader, died of a brain hemorrhage on Saturday at the age of 80. Colson, special counsel to the Nixon Administration, served seven months for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal. But Colson emerged from prison a born-again Christian, promising to devote his life to religious activities. And though he may be remembered most for his role in Watergate, Tim Weiner, journalist and author of "Enemies: A History of the FBI," believes that Colson's true legacy might be his role in forging alliances between Evangelical Protestants and Catholics to create the religious wing of the Republican Party.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Yesterday, Dick Clark passed away. But the stamp he left on the world is still very much apparent. We remember him today with two people who know his story well. John Jackson is the author of “American Bandstand: Dick Clark and the Making of a Rock 'n' Roll Empire.” And Lew Klein was the executive producer of American Bandstand, who hired Dick Clark fresh out of college.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
By Kerry Nolan : WNYC/WQXR News Host
Earl Scruggs is a huge figure in the American music pantheon. That he helped create modern country music, that he influenced generations of musicians with his three-finger pick and roll style of playing the banjo, that he brought the songs of Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn into the country-bluegrass fold is only part of what he was able to create. Watch videos of Scruggs performing here.