Music News

All Songs Considered
10:59 am
Thu November 20, 2014

NPR Music Presents A Screening Of 'Wild Combination: A Portrait Of Arthur Russell'

Illustration by Tyler Boss

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Deceptive Cadence
6:03 am
Thu November 20, 2014

A Flurry Of Premieres For American Orchestras

This weekend Leonard Slatkin leads the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in several premieres, webcast live.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

How about some good — even great — news from American orchestras? Today and tomorrow, four of the country's biggest ensembles are playing world premieres by prominent composers.

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The Two-Way
4:14 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Motown's Jimmy Ruffin Dies; Sang 'What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted'

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 6:13 pm

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Music News
2:24 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Joyful Opera Performed In Nazi Concentration Camp Revived In Chicago

Ela Stein Weissberger joins the cast of Brundibár for a final song.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 5:53 pm

Brundibár, a children's opera that premiered during World War II, became both a symbol of hope and resistance and a Nazi propaganda tool. Now, Petite Opera, a small company in suburban Chicago, is reprising the opera, originally performed by Jewish children held in a concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia.

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A Blog Supreme
12:27 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

A Jazz Institution Moves Back Home To Los Angeles

Herbie Hancock and Pharrell Williams performed Williams' hit "Happy" at the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trumpet Competition.
Imeh Akpanudosen Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 1:38 pm

Last weekend, at a sold-out, star-studded gala concert in Hollywood, Pharrell Williams and Herbie Hancock remixed Williams' hit "Happy," Kevin Spacey served up a compelling Frank Sinatra imitation singing "Fly Me To The Moon" and former President Bill Clinton offered a heartfelt reminiscence about his early days as a John Coltrane wannabe. ("Sometimes frustrated jazz musicians end up in another line of work and it ends up pretty good," he joked.) The opener was a jazz concert: Three virtuosic young trumpet players — Adam O'Farrill, Billy Buss and Marquis Hill — deftly negotiated standards.

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Music News
3:29 am
Wed November 19, 2014

'Do They Know It's Christmas?' Raises Hackles As Well As Dollars

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 6:17 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's hear the new generation of an aging song. It's a song produced 30 years ago to raise money for people in Africa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DO THEY KNOW IT'S CHRISTMAS?")

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The Record
6:03 am
Tue November 18, 2014

A Rational Conversation: Can The Delayed Album Curse Be Lifted?

Azealia Banks.
Courtesy of the artist

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Deceptive Cadence
2:47 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Uncovering The Heart Of Chopin — Literally

Composer and pianist Frederic Chopin, who died in 1849.
General Photographic Agency Getty Images

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Music News
3:41 am
Sun November 16, 2014

'Twinkle' Sparks Fireworks As Fiddler Guts Violin Method

Shinichi Suzuki makes a rare visit to Britain in 1980 to demonstrate the method he developed for learning to play the violin.
Ian Tyas Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 3:37 pm

If you're a parent, the sound of a small child sawing away at the strains of the "Twinkle Variations" may be all too familiar.

It's Song One, of Book One, of the Suzuki method, a musical pedagogy developed by Shin'ichi Suzuki in the 1960s.

But lately there has been discord among music educators, a feud over methods and credentials and accusations of fraud.

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Music News
5:49 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Brilliance In Bumps And Bruises, On Air And On Screen

Dave the Spazz does a weekly show on WFMU.
Courtesy of Ray Ray Sunshine Films

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 8:21 am

A new documentary about WFMU, the scrappy, chaotic and iconoclastic radio station in New Jersey, debuts today at the DOC NYC film festival. Sex and Broadcasting is described by the filmmakers as "an American tale of life, liberty and independent radio." In an opening scene, station manager Ken Freedman is on the air and delivers what amounts to a manifesto.

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The Record
11:04 am
Thu November 13, 2014

TV On The Radio And The Paradox Of The Midcareer Band

TV On The Radio's new album, its fifth, is titled Seeds.
JUCO Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 3:02 pm

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Music News
2:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

'Concert For Valor' Honors Veterans' Contributions

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:24 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

All Songs Considered
9:05 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Houndmouth, 'For No One'

Tyler Zoller Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:22 pm

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Music News
5:51 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Update: Tales About Led Zeppelin Reunion Tour Weren't True

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 11:09 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Music News
1:02 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Why The Caged Bird Raps

Maya Angelou's poetry and lyrics meet hip-hop beats on the new album Caged Bird Songs.
Chester Higgins Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:58 am

Maya Angelou: poet, singer, dancer, painter, Grammy winner — and now, hip-hop artist.

The new album Caged Bird Songs takes its title from Angelou's 1969 book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. One of the last projects Angelou worked on before her passing in May, it blends some of her most famous poems and lyrics with hip hop beats.

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Music News
3:22 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

In Berlin, A Beat That Bloomed From Rubble

Tacheles, a squat in the central district of Mitte, 1990. Spots like this one often became clubs or art spaces in the years following German reunification.
Ben de Biel

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:03 am

Just after 10 on a Saturday morning, at a defunct power station in central Berlin, revelers reluctantly leave a club buried in its basement. One of them asks, "Hey man, you there, you know a good place to party?" as he stumbles into the sunlight.

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The Two-Way
2:03 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Reaches Labor Deal With Musicians

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist Michael Kurth stands on the picket line for a silent protest during the lockout in September. The orchestra announced this weekend that it had reached a new four-year contract with musicians.
David Goldman AP

Musicians and management at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have reached agreement on a new labor contract after months of negotiations and a lockout, setting the stage for the ensemble's 70th anniversary season to start on Thursday. Appropriately enough, the first concert will feature Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."

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Music News
4:04 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Revisiting An Era When Pop Didn't Always Have Lyrics

Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr. perform as Steelism at Fond Object, a Nashville-area record store.
Jewly Hight

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 10:13 am

There was a time when you could hear instrumental music on Top 40 radio right alongside big-name singers. But, with a few exceptions, the heyday of pop instrumentals ended three decades ago.

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The Two-Way
6:11 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

This Is An Orchestra Under The Influence Of Chili Peppers

Danish concertmaster Erik Heide plays "Jalousie" after downing an vividly hot pepper.
Chili Klaus YouTube

It's not unusual for musicians to play through pain. But instead of blisters or cramps, members of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra recently endured the searing throb of hot peppers. And it was on purpose: Each musician ate one of "the world's hottest chili peppers" whole, as they played a tango.

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Music News
6:02 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Murder-For-Hire Charge Dropped Against Drummer For AC/DC

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 2:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Music News
12:03 am
Fri November 7, 2014

A Musician Writes A Soundtrack For His Grandparents' Love Story

We Are the Willows' new album is titled Picture (Portrait). Peter Miller (center) is the band's principal songwriter.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 6:13 pm

Peter Miller is the principal songwriter and lead singer of the Minneapolis band We Are the Willows. For the group's new album, Picture (Portrait), Miller wrote songs inspired by more than 350 letters sent to his grandmother, Verlie Miller, from his grandfather, Alvin Miller, during World War II.

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Music News
4:37 am
Thu November 6, 2014

AC/DC Drummer Charged In Murder Plot

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 9:15 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Music News
12:03 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mr. Sax

Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and the inventor of the saxophone, was born 200 years ago Thursday.
The LIFE Picture Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:23 am

It's rare to be able to celebrate a person who invented a popular musical instrument. Mostly, from the guitar to the violin to the flute, musical instruments have evolved over time: There is no Mr. Flute or Ms. Trumpet. But there is a Mr. Sax — or, rather, a Monsieur Sax.

Adolphe Sax was born in Belgium 200 years ago Thursday. As a young man, Sax worked for his father, also an instrument maker. The younger Sax made improvements to the bass clarinet and invented a family of instruments called saxhorns before creating his eponymous "phone" in the early 1840s.

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All Songs Considered
7:03 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Song Premiere: José González, 'Every Age'

José González returns with his first new solo album in seven years. Vestiges And Claws is due out Feb. 17.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 3:37 pm

It's been more than a decade, now, since José González first burrowed into our hearts with his inspired and deeply moving cover of The Knife song "Heartbeats." (Remember that bouncing ball video?) That track appeared on the Swedish singer-songwriter's 2003 debut album Veneer, a collection of sometimes moody acoustic songs that swelled and swooned with surprising momentum.

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The Record
1:33 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Taylor Swift, Platinum Party Of One

Some things actually are surprising: Taylor Swift, performing on ABC's Good Morning America in New York City on Oct. 30, sold over a million copies of her new album, 1989, in its first week.
Jamie McCarthy Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 3:53 pm

Tuesday night, Nielsen SoundScan announced that Taylor Swift sold 1.287 million copies of her new album, 1989 in its first week of release. This would be impressive in any year, but in a year like this, you could call it a miracle. So far in 2014, only one album has sold more than a million copies: the soundtrack to the movie Frozen, which actually came out in 2013. No other album released in 2014 has sold one million copies, all year long. So it's not just that Taylor Swift is doing big numbers. She's doing big numbers at a time when no one else is doing big numbers.

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Music
5:46 am
Sun November 2, 2014

Latin Music Celebrates Lives For Day Of The Dead

Originally published on Sun November 2, 2014 3:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Record
1:03 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

The Many New Voices Of Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has called her fifth album, 1989, her "very first documented, official pop album."
Courtesy of Big Machine Records

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 5:27 pm

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Music News
2:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

A Violin Concerto Back From Beyond The Grave

Robert Schumann wrote his Violin Concerto in 1853.
Josef Kriehuber Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 12:40 pm

Classical music meets Halloween and the paranormal Thursday night when the National Symphony Orchestra plays the Schumann Violin Concerto, a work buried for nearly a century and recovered — or so the story goes — by a message from the beyond.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:39 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Just Who Is This Opera Star Singing At The World Series Tonight?

Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who is singing the national anthem at Game 7 of the World Series tonight in Kansas City, Mo.
Simon Pauly Courtesy of the artist

Maybe this trajectory mirrors the Kansas City Royals' unlikely road to the pennant: An opera star beats out much more mainstream artists to sing the national anthem at the decisive World Series Game 7.

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Music News
12:13 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

SBTRKT: 'There's Always A Space You Can Go'

Charlotte Rutherford Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 4:30 pm

For more conversations with music-makers, check out NPR's Music Interviews.

Homepage photo: Charlotte Rutherford

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