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2012 will go down as a year of orchestral turmoil in the U.S.: Strikes, lockouts and bankruptcies erupted time and again as once seemingly untouchable institutions struggled financially.

There's been particularly little seasonal cheer in Minnesota's orchestral community. Protests erupted after management at the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra each locked out their musicians, after the musicians had rejected contracts that cut their salaries by tens of thousands of dollars and reduced the size of the orchestras.

Fond Farewells: Classical Musicians We Lost in 2012

Dec 31, 2012

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. The song "Strange Fruit" has been recorded by many musicians, but it belongs to Billie Holiday. She made it famous but she did not write it. The man who did did not have a big career as a songwriter but he did have an amazing life story, as NPR's Elizabeth Blair tells us.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The man is Abel Meeropol and he really has two stories. They both begin at a public high school in the Bronx.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHATTER)

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Dec 28, 2012

  • This week, BBC One premiered a made-for-TV treatment of the Joyce Hatto scandal called "Loving Miss Hatto," with Francesca Annis and Alfred Molina as the leads. Remember her?

What Happened To Music Writing This Year?

Dec 27, 2012

The question "what do readers want?" has hovered over any media business worth its advertising revenue for years, but in 2012, it took on more urgency. Any item worth its pixels this year was built for sharing, for posting on Twitter or in friends' Facebook newsfeeds and multiplexing from there. Sometimes these shareable pieces would dig deeply into a topic with a new perspective; more often they would play off already-existing biases, asserting them or proudly acting the contrarian.

2012 has been a strange year for content creators — authors, producers, musicians. It was a year when the very idea of physical ownership of a book or CD or even a song file became almost passe.

It was also the year in which music-streaming services like Spotify and Pandora launched major efforts to convince people to pay for something they didn't own. But it's been slow going.

Music-streaming services have been trying to win over two types of customers: a younger generation that doesn't buy at all and an older generation that still likes owning physical albums.

Top 10 Top 40 Of 2012

Dec 26, 2012

To capture the year in pop, let's think back to some of its most memorable songs:

  • A left-field hit sung almost entirely in a foreign language, whose throbbing dance beat masked lyrics that were more political than one might suspect.
  • A rock-pop crossover smash about holding onto youth into your thirties, even when your head is throbbing from self-reflection and encroaching decrepitude.
  • A fluttery, buttery pop classic about a girl fretting over — yet exulting in — not knowing where that boy's head is at or where he thinks he's going.

In Memoriam: Musicians We Lost In 2012

Dec 24, 2012

NPR Music remembers the singers, instrumentalists, songwriters and personalities who died in 2012. Explore their musical legacies by launching our musical interactive here or by clicking on the image.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Toronto, An Ad-Hoc Choir Becomes A Community

Dec 23, 2012

Let's say you live in Canada — say, Toronto — and you like to sing. You're not in a band, you don't get asked to sing at weddings, but singing just kind of makes you happy. Well, every Tuesday night at a local bar, you'll find a crowd of people just like you, singing their hearts out.

Even in a city known for its eccentrics, Ernie K-Doe was in another dimension. The New Orleans musician always knew — and said, loudly — that he was special. And for one week in a life of wild ups and downs, he managed to pierce the national consciousness with a chart-topping hit: 1961's "Mother in Law."

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Dec 21, 2012

  • Tenor Rolando Villazon let loose during a recent Q&A with The Arts Desk: "One thing that I haven't achieved is longevity. This will come — if it comes. That said, I don't think that longevity is a necessary part of a great career." And regarding his own health problems: "[My doctor] would have told [critics] the problem was biology. I would have got it if I had sung Mozart. It had nothing to do with repertoire or technique or how much I sang.

Loving Rush, With All My Heart And Brain

Dec 20, 2012

Joe Strummer's Life After Death

Dec 20, 2012

The Landfill Harmonic: An Orchestra Built From Trash

Dec 19, 2012

There's an amazing video floating around YouTube that has brought a ray of sunshine to a very dark week for all of us. It's the trailer for an upcoming documentary called Landfill Harmonic, which focuses on one remarkable group in Paraguay: an orchestra that plays instruments created out of literal trash, made lovingly for them by their community.

Growing up in Utah, Ross Owen watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on television every Sunday with his family.

"It was almost like watching a rock concert, and I thought, 'Oh, I'd love to do that,' " he says.

But by the time Owen was old enough to join the choir, he was no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; he had been excommunicated after he came out as gay.

The world mourned the death this week of Indian maestro Ravi Shankar, whose name became synonymous with the sitar. Tributes eulogized Shankar as the great connector of the East and West who'd hobnobbed with The Beatles and collaborated with violin virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin. Less has been said about the roots of the music he spent a lifetime perfecting and innovating.

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Dec 14, 2012

There's no way around what a sad week it's been in music.

  • Charles Rosen, prodigious pianist, scholar and polymath, died Sunday in New York at age 85.

Now That's What I Call A Compilation

Dec 13, 2012

If this year the single-artist album looks to be on shaky ground — thanks to the EP's rise, the single's continuing dominance and the neither-nor of hip-hop mixtapes and online dance DJ mixes — the officially sanctioned compilation album would seem even wobblier. In the age of Spotify (not to mention the age of iTunes), most listeners make their own multi-artist playlists as a matter of course.

After all our whining, we have to pass along word that Rush has made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

And, yes, we know that some of this year's other inductees, announced today, may be more "important":

-- Heart.

Remembering Banda Diva Jenni Rivera

Dec 10, 2012

To listen to Mandalit del Barco's appreciation of Jenni Rivera's life and career, as heard on All Things Considered, click the audio link.

Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera died Sunday in an airplane that crashed in the early hours of the morning in Toluca, west of Mexico's capital. The legendary musician, household name and feminist presence in the Latin music scene was 43.

Remembering Charles Rosen, A Prodigious Pianist And Polymath

Dec 10, 2012

Pianist, classical music scholar and thinker Charles Rosen died in New York yesterday at age 85 following a battle with cancer. A prolific author, essayist and Guggenheim Award winner, Rosen published two staple books on classical music, 1971's The Classical Style and 1995's The Romantic Generation, and was a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books.

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