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Casta Diva

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Casta Diva

Norma premiered in La Scala (the Mecca of opera in Millan Italy) in 1831. Casta Diva is one of the most challenging arias ever written for soprano. During the rehearsals before the premier Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta refused to sign it she said it was “ill adapted to her vocal abilities”.

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Great Conductors

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On Saturday I was browsing TED talks and stumbled on this incredible talk by Itay Talgam, “Lead like the great conductors.” Even if you’re not a big fan of classical music, watch it to learn a lot about different management styles (I watched it five times!). I am a civilian when it comes to classical…

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Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

in Music

Today I want to share with you Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” Niccolo Paganini, Italian violin virtuoso and composer, wrote 24 capriccios for violin – 24 very short but extremely difficult pieces to play. I feel like they were written for the performers, not the listeners – they are as difficult to listen…

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Macbeth

in Music

Today I wanted to share with you aria from Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth. I saw this opera for the first (and only) time with my wife on one of our first dates. Now she cannot say that she wasn’t warned about my extracurricular opera excursions. Macbeth was Verdi’s tenth opera. It was first performed in 1847.…

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Netrebko & Garanca

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I wanted to share with you an aria from opera Lakme by French composer Leo Delibes (click here) . Ironically it is known as British Airways’ theme song. It is sung by two of my favorite sopranos Anna Netrebko from Russia and Elina Garanca from Latvia. I have to be honest, I am not sure…

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Warsaw Concerto

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Today I wanted to share with you the Warsaw Concerto, a piano concerto in one movement written by British composer Richard Addinsell for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight.  When I heard it the first time, it felt like it had a Russian soul behind it. Today, when I looked it up on the most trustworthy source…

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Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6

in Music

A good friend asked me if I thought Tchaikovsky was overrated or underappreciated. A few years ago I probably would have said overrated; now I say both. music has been overpopularized in America. The Nutcracker has turned into a Christmas ballet, which is so popular that for some ballet companies it accounts for almost half…

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Mahler – Symphony No. 5

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Last time I shared with you my conflicted thoughts on anti-Semitic German composer Richard Wagner. To balance things out, today I want to point you to a piece by the Austrian Jewish composer Gustav Mahler, whose music I learned to love only recently. I had tried to listen to him in the past and quite…

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Wagner’s Lohengrin

in Music

  I’ve been conflicted about listening to Wagner’s music for a long time. He was a raging anti-Semite and a horrible human being. Hitler’s love for Wagner’s music made Wagner even less likable. (But of course, by this logic, if Hitler loved Offenbach’s music would it make Offenbach’s music taboo? But then again, if I…

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Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto

in Music

 Last time, I discussed how Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Number 1 was rejected by Tchaikovsky’s mentor, the best pianist in Russia, Nikolai Rubenstein, – who termed this concerto “pathetic,” among other insults. But after the concerto’s successful premier in Boston, Rubenstein changed his mind and actually conducted its premier in Moscow. A similar fate faced Tchaikovsky’s…

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Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 5

in Music

After I wrote last week about Arthur Rubenstein, the Polish-American-Jewish pianist, a  reader suggested I read Rubenstein’s autobiography, which consists of two books, My Younger Years and My Many Years.  I bought both.  I am halfway through the first one (it is the first “paper” book I’ve read in a few years – a very…

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Grieg Piano Concerto

in Music

Today I wanted to share with you the Piano Concerto in A Minor by Norwegian composer Edward Grieg, the only piano concerto he wrote (here is a link).  It is one of those concertos that you have to listen to with eyes closed.  (That is why I am including it at the bottom of my…

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