John Schaefer


John Schaefer has hosted Soundcheck since the show’s inception in 2002. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The No. 1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986.

John has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (Harper & Row, NY, 1987; Virgin Books, London, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (Cambridge University Press, U.K., 2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo Television, 2003). He was contributing editor for Spin and Ear magazines, and his liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from “The Music of Cambodia” to recordings by Yo-Yo Ma and Terry Riley. 

In 2003, Schaefer was honored with the American Music Center's prestigious Letter of Distinction for his "substantial contributions to advancing the field of contemporary American music in the United States and abroad." In May 2006, New York magazine cited Schaefer as one of "the people whose ideas, power, and sheer will are changing New York" in its Influentials issue.  He began blogging for WNYC when accompanying the New York Philharmonic on its historic (and apparently very weird) trip to North Korea in 2008 and continues to blog at

He is a regular contributor to the World Science Festival and the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center; he has also written about horse racing (Bloodlines: A Horse Racing Anthology, Vintage NY 2006) and was a regular panelist on the BBC’s soccer-based program Sports World.  


John Schaefer appears in the following:

Beyond Words

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The idea of using the voice as an instrument rather than as the carrier of a text is a relatively recent development, at least in Western classical music.


Remembering Jóhann Jóhannsson

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who died Feb. 9, aged 48, was the rare experimental musician whose work crossed over to the general public. John Schaefer looks back on his legacy.
Read More



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Join John Schaefer on The Furthermore as he explores the old tradition among classical music composers of writing memorial pieces for colleagues who have passed on. 

Comments [1]

Chaconnes and Passacaglias

Saturday, February 03, 2018

In the Baroque era, the chaconne and its close relative the passacaglia were favorite musical forms — and they've both had a remarkable revival in contemporary music. 


Mostly Mozart, Sort Of…

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mozart was directly responsible for over 600 works, but since his death he's also been indirectly responsible for hundreds of pieces. Hear the composers who have been inspired by Mozart.


Hugh Masekela, South Africa’s Musical Ambassador, Dies At 78

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

South African trumpeter, singer and composer Hugh Masekela, one of the most effective ambassadors for his country in the rest of the world died today, Jan. 23, 2018.
Read More


Memories in Music

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Memory can be a tricky thing. Some memories are pretty straightforward; others are fraught. Take German composer Max Richter’s 2002 collection memoryhouse, about 20th century Europe.


Old Songs / New Works

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Just because a song is around 200 years old doesn’t mean it’s past its sell-by date. John Schaefer looks at how old songs have provided the musical inspiration for contemporary works.


Something Happened on the Day He Died: Remembering David Bowie, Two Years On

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Sounds
John Schaefer reflects on the second anniversary of David Bowie’s death, along with the HBO documentary, "David Bowie: The Last Five Years," that explores the end of his career.
Read More


Weekly Music Roundup: Sirintip, SZA and Kendrick, David Byrne

Monday, January 08, 2018

New Sounds
This week, womens’ voices take over, Justin Timberlake returns, and David Byrne is back with a solo record.  
Read More


Winter Variations

Saturday, January 06, 2018

On this episode of The Furthermore, hear musical takes on winter from Vivaldi to music from "Game of Thrones."


The Islands of Scotland

Saturday, December 30, 2017

We'll trace how the islands of Scotland influenced composers for over 200 years, since a 20-year-old Felix Mendelssohn visited the Hebrides Islands.

Comments [3]

Christmas Time Is Here

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas music doesn’t have to be the same old songs, sung only at this one time of the year. Some Christmas music sounds great any time.

Comments [1]

Music With Jewish Roots

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Just in time for Chanukah, we listen to music with Jewish roots — even if not all of the composers were themselves Jewish.

Comments [2]

The Search for Healing After the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia

Friday, December 15, 2017

The U.S. premiere at BAM of the music/theater work "Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia" by survivors of the Cambodian genocide explores the possibility of rebirth.


Weekly Music Roundup: NY Phil at 175 & I'm With Her

Monday, December 11, 2017

Week of December 11: Sufjan Stevens Sings About Tonya Harding; Songwriter Grace Carter at 20; the New York Philharmonic at 175, and the supergroup I'm With Her.
Read More


Chamber Music From Brahms to Rachel Grimes

Saturday, December 09, 2017

This time on The Furthermore, some chamber music by Brahms and Debussy leads us to more contemporary chamber works by Somei Satoh, Rachel Grimes and Poppy Ackroyd.


The Best of 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

This time on The Furthermore, we look back at some memorable musical events in 2017.


Welcome! Your Favorite Homes for New Music Under One Roof

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This is the NEW New Sounds website! Here, finally, in one place, are all the major musical threads that New York Public Radio has been weaving into its programming over the years.
Read More


Indie-pop band Dizzy at Public Arts

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Canadian band Dizzy just released a single called “Swim,” a twilit, nostalgia-tinged slice of indie-pop. It's part of our Weekly Music Roundup.