Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 11:39 am
Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland was an American original in more ways than one. It's not just his music, with its openness and simple elegance. It's that he expected ballet dancers to act like cowboys, pianists to play blues and orchestra players to accompany political speechmaking. His Lincoln Portrait, composed during World War II, matches words from our 16th president with symphonic music.
Today jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal celebrates his 82nd birthday, presumably near Montauban, France, where he will play a gig tomorrow. In fact, he'll spend most of the month in France, The Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland and Turkey doing what he does best: pouring himself into his enchanting music.
Join us Friday as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood, the summer music festival that is both the seasonal home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a legendary destination in its own right.
This summer, Weekend Edition Saturday is listening to the sounds of music al fresco. Today, we present an audio postcard of a trumpeter we recently heard blowing "The Star-Spangled Banner" just down the street from NPR.
The odds of making it in the classical music business are long, but for the past two years, 25-year-old viola player Nathan Schram has received a stipend, health insurance, lots of amazing performance opportunities and a real-world education teaching violin students at an inner-city elementary school in Brooklyn. Now, Schram and his colleagues have to say goodbye to The Academy.
How many contemporary political figures have a piano prize named after them? Here's one: Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. A gold medal will be awarded in her honor at the Leeds International Piano Competition. Playing the piano was one of her coping mechanisms during 15 years of house arrest.
Pianist Helen Sung appeared on Piano Jazz on the heels of her second release, Helenistique. Critics loved the energy, the intelligence and, as pianist Benny Green put it, "the life-affirming joy" that emanated from Sung's playing on that album. Marian McPartland, too, was seduced by Sung's "dazzling and passionate" approach.