Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony have been consistent champions of American music of all shapes and sizes. Are there — or will there be — American symphonies that stand with those of Mozart and Beethoven, Mahler and Shostakovich?
Critics and fans love a good debate over the great American novel or great American movie. But what about the great American symphony?
Is there one? If not, why? If so, which symphonies are good candidates for the title? (Check out our Spotify list for some contenders.) And in the land of the melting pot, what does it mean for a symphony to be "American" in the first place?
Dayna Stephens is a patient musician. The 34-year-old tenor saxophonist and composer fashions supple, searching improvisations that brim with melodic cogency. His compositions often exude a widescreen sensibility with languid, narrative-like passages, suspenseful interludes and sumptuous harmonies.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:16 am
The Miami-based Latin alternative band Elastic Bond has a varied sound that's hard to pinpoint. Its debut album, Real, contains tropical elements well suited to its home state of Florida, but funky horns and retro-leaning samples help freshen that sound. The combination of genres goes well with the band's name, which references a chemical equation.
Mozart's The Magic Flute, the last opera he lived to complete, has some of his most sublime and sublimely comic music. Technically, it's more of a musical comedy, what in German is called a Singspiel, a play with songs and spoken dialogue. I was excited to learn that it was filmed by Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespeare movies I really admire. Mozart's mixture of fairy tale and high morality presents a great opportunity for a filmmaker; in 1975, Ingmar Bergman released a version for Swedish television that has become a beloved classic.