My Year In Music 2013

CDs Full PB269441_edited-1This year, I’m even more relieved than last year that I’m not a professional critic assigned to assemble a “top ten” music list for 2013. Instead, here is a year-end offering of highlights from my personal musical journey throughout the year.

I also want to recognize the composer and musicians who participated in This Life in Music profiles during 2013: Maxwell J McKee, Sabrina Tabby, Dávid Adam NagyLucy Dhegrae, and Amy Garapic, as well as composer Dylan Mattingly, for his guest post on his new work, The Bakkhai (a report on the premiere of The Bakkhai is included in this post). It was a pleasure and privilege to present each of them on Prufrock’s Dilemma. Thanks to all!

Recordings: This is a list, in alphabetical order, of a Prufrock’s Dozen of recorded music I’ve played repeatedly, with enjoyment, during the year.

  1. Adams, John: Violin Concerto (Chloë Hanslip, violin, see endnote)
  2. Bach, Johann Sebastian: Goldberg Variations (Jeremy Denk, piano)
  3. Beethoven, Ludwig van: Piano Sonatas Vol. 1 (Jonathan Biss, piano)
  4. Britten, Benjamin: Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings (Robert Tear, tenor; Dale Clevenger, horn)
  5. Gubaidulina, Sofia: Offertorium (Gidon Kremer, violin)
  6. Janáček, Leoš: A Recollection (András Schiff, piano)
  7. Prokofiev, Serge: Piano Sonatas 6, 7, 8 (two versions: Sviatoslav Richter, Denis Kozhukhin)
  8. Schnittke, Alfred: Viola Concerto (Yuri Bashmet, viola)
  9. Schumann, Robert; Wolf, Hugo: Liederkreis and Ausgewahlte Lieder (Anne Schwanewilms)
  10. Shostakovich, Dmitri: First Symphony
  11. Shostakovich, Dmitri: Sixth Symphony (The Fourth Symphony is omitted here only because it was on last year’s list, and I’m not including later symphonies on which I haven’t written posts.)
  12. Tchaikovsky, Pyotr: The Sleeping Beauty (Neeme Järvi/James Ehnes/Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra)
  13. Turnage, Mark-Anthony: Speranza (Håkan Hardenberger, trumpet) & From the Wreckage

Cahill CD PB269435_edited-1Very Special Mention: Sarah Cahill is a wonderful pianist and an engaging and thoughtful advocate of new music. Cahill has a new CD out featuring the first set of works Cahill commissioned in the wake of the Iraq war. The CD’s title, A Sweeter Music, is taken from the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war.” A review of the CD may be found here, and I’m pleased to report that one of my very favorite pieces on the CD, Terry Riley’s “Be Kind to One Another,” has been selected as one of NPR Music’s 100 Favorite Songs of 2013.

Cahill’s Sunday radio program, “Revolutions Per Minute,” “speaks to the musical revolutions of Beethoven, Stravinsky, and John Cage, among others, and evokes the 33 rpms many of us treasure, whether we’re sentimentalists or audiophiles.” Just as in her previous program, Cahill features the music of “then and now,” juxtaposing the likes of Hildegard von Bingen with Meredith Monk or Josquin des Pres with Frederic Rzewski. The program, which also includes interviews with composers and musicians and previews of Bay Area concerts, is available live-stream on KALW Radio here.

Live Concerts (in chronological order)

I’ve realized, over time, that, for me, an important element of a great concert experience is engagement from everyone participating, not only the performers, but audience members, too. At large concert halls in New York City, while I’ve heard some extraordinary music, marvelously performed and conducted, it has too often been marred by audience members who didn’t seem to want to be there, flipping through their programs, whispering to their seatmates, zipping and unzipping their pocketbooks, and offering a chorus of nervous coughing that rose in a crescendo between every movement.

This doesn’t happen in concerts where audience members are fully present and engaged. The excitement and focused attention are palpable, and it makes all the difference. This goes for every single Contemporaneous concert I’ve attended. For the same reason, Lembit Beecher’s Esto-Ugric Project concert, featuring the fine Aizuri Quartet, was a complete delight. Magic can happen in the big halls, too. As one example, in the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir concert I mention below, the rapport conductor Neeme Järvi fostered among performers and audience members made for a wonderful, celebratory night.

Here is my “short list” of great concert experiences this year:

British Music Since World War II (Juilliard Orchestra; Mark Wigglesworth, conductor; Trevor Nuckols, French horn soloist)

MICHAEL TIPPETT Ritual Dances from The Midsummer Marriage (1947/1952)
OLIVER KNUSSEN Horn Concerto (1994)
BENJAMIN BRITTEN Sinfonia da Requiem, Op. 20 (1940)

The Juilliard Orchestra, under Wigglesworth’s sterling hand, turned in an inspired performance. Bruce Hodges captured the magic in his review.


It’s hard to single out any one Contemporaneous concert, as each is a jubilant occasion in its own right. Don’t Even introduced me to three, count ‘em three, composers, all of whom I’ve had on my “watch” list ever since: Sean Friar, Andrew Norman, and Jeremy Podgursky. There Is Another Sky featured sketches from George Tsontakis’s work-in-formation Melville Pilot, John Halle’s twist-up of Chubby Checker’s The Twist, and two terrific world premieres, one each from co-artistic directors David Bloom (Beacon) and Dylan Mattingly (There Is Another Sky). Breathe featured a world premiere by Albert Behar (The Beauty in Breathing), a dazzling performance of Mattingly’s Atlas (of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island), and my long hoped for first chance to hear a piece by Samuel Carl Adams, in this case the elegant twenty-four strings. Sam Reising’s review of the Breathe concert may be found on I Care If You Listen here. (The last Contemporaneous concert I attended in 2013, Dylan Mattingly’s The Bakkhai, is noted separately below.)


I have no basis for comparison, but can report that I found this production of Parsifal thrilling. The music was ravishingly played and sung. While there is room for difference of opinion on the production, the general view among those of us comparing notes was that it was thoughtfully done, going for elegance and understatement rather than Broadway razzle-dazzle. For me, the use of choreography throughout was particularly striking (though I would rather the singers had not been compelled to walk in red-dyed water throughout Act II).

On December 14, 2013, BBC Radio 3’s Building A Library (CD Review) program will air David Nice’s review of recordings of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal. To prepare the program, David listened to and assessed two dozen Parsifal recordings. I’m eager to hear the results and thought you might be, too. The link to the broadcast is here, and I believe will remain available to listen online for 7 days.

John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary

The opportunity to hear Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic perform the New York premiere of Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary live was among the highest of many high points during this concert year. I wrote about it here. From the post: In The Gospel According to the Other Mary, Adams does more than embrace the beautiful and make it new, though that alone would have been enough. He has grasped the nettle of musical traditions that once threatened his ability to find his authentic voice, and he has prevailed. In The Gospel According to the Other Mary, he not only absorbs their lessons, but transforms them to create a work of transcendent power.

My First Ring

It wasn’t perfect, but it was my first Ring. From what I wrote at the time: Götterdämmerung! It’s impossible to think of it on its own, for by this time, The Ring has become a total immersion experience, and everything has built to this point. Can there possibly be anything else like it in all of music? It’s hard to imagine what it would be. As a newcomer, I’m carried off by the music, the building up of the leitmotifs, the brilliant entwining of music and story. While we wished Lepage had realized that the production should serve the music and its performance, and not the other way round, in the end, it didn’t matter, either to those of us who were going for the first time or the two veterans. We burst out onto the plaza at Lincoln Center exhilarated, singing what we could (not well, but enthusiastically) of bits from the final scenes.

Bard Recitals

I loved these in a way it’s not possible to love anything else.

Dávid Adam Nagy Senior Recital. Not only did bassoonist Dávid Adam Nagy and friends put in a wonderful performance at Nagy’s Senior Recital, but the program that Nagy conceived and organized was inventive, nicely paced, and showed us once again the full glory of the bassoon.

Maxwell J McKee Senior Recital. For Mother’s Day, pianist and composer Maxwell J McKee gave his mother, and all of us there, a gift of music to remember. McKee on piano, the ensemble, and David Bloom conducting, performed not only skillfully, but with all their hearts and all their hopes. It doesn’t get better than that.

Amy Garapic Fellowship Recital. Percussionist Amy Garapic’s Fellowship Recital was the culmination of a residency at Bard that added several jewels to Garapic’s already lustrous crown. Garapic’s program was insightfully chosen to exhibit not only her percussionist prowess but also the tremendous variety of 20th and 21st century music for percussion.

John Adams conducts John Adams (City Noir) in Washington, DC

Another great concert experience this year was visiting the Kennedy Center and sitting behind the stage as John Adams conducted the National Symphony Orchestra in his own City Noir. From there, I had a bird’s eye view of the percussion, brass, and woodwinds, including the phenomenal Timothy McAllister on sax. (Adams has since written a Saxophone Concerto for McAllister, premiered in Sydney, Australia, and slated to come out on a CD by the St. Louis Symphony in 2014.)  This was also the first time I heard the wonderful pianist Jeremy Denk live, performing the Ravel Piano Concerto in G. I wrote about the concert here.

Lembit Beecher’s Esto-Ugric Project Concert

This concert was a welcoming, joyful musical experience in every way. I wrote about it, and you can hear Beecher’s String Quartet, These Memories May Be True, here. The concert, held at the New York Estonian House, was part of Lembit Beecher’s Esto-Ugric Project, a concert and commissioning project based on music inspired by Estonian and Hungarian folk songs. Beecher welcomed us to the evening with charm and wit, and his introduction set the tone for the night. Though the concert took place several weeks ago, its impact lingers on. I feel privileged to have been able to take part in the community of music created among the composers, performers, and listeners who were there.

Shostakovich Fourth and Fifteenth Symphonies (London Symphony Orchestra; Bernard Haitink, conductor)

Seeing and hearing Haitink conduct and the LSO perform Shostakovich’s Fourth and Fifteenth Symphonies was revelatory. Haitink and the LSO clearly care about and understand these symphonies deeply, and it showed. Some audience members found the Fourth Symphony (performed in the first of two concerts), particularly disconcerting, if measured by the cough-o-meter readings throughout. Thankfully, it seemed those who might have been disconcerted by the Fifteenth Symphony left the second concert early. We who remained were enthralled. At the end, that sublime morendo, Haitink did not immediately drop his hand. The audience heeded him, and there was silence, precious silence, before the applause. Zachary Woolfe’s review in the New York Times may be found here.

New York Philharmonic (Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Leila Josefowicz, violin)

Leila Josefowicz not only makes remarkable music, but her physicality is stunning. She doesn’t merely play, but enacts the music with every fiber of her being. Salonen’s Violin Concerto is a superb piece and pure magic in Josefowicz’s hands. Salonen as a conductor drew out the full expressiveness and range of every piece on the program. George Grella’s excellent review of the concert may be found here.

White Light Festival (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Neeme Järvi, conductor)

VELJO TORMIS: Overture No. 2
ARVO PÄRT: In principio (New York premiere); Da pacem Domine
MOZART: Ave verum corpus
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 5

There could not have been a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than this. The program was gorgeous, the performance splendid, and the audience SO happy to be there. Järvi is not only a great conductor, but clearly a delightful person, too. George Grella captured the concert beautifully here.

Program of Early Shostakovich Works (Juilliard Orchestra; Vladimir Jurowski, conductor)

SHOSTAKOVICH The New Babylon (1929)
SHOSTAKOVICH Hypothetically Murdered Orchestral Suite, Op. 31a (1926)
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 10 (1924-25)

Jurowski and the Juilliard Orchestra turned in a spectacular performance of Shostakovich’s brilliant First Symphony and two rarities: selections from his film score for New Babylon and the orchestral suite from Hypothetically Murdered, a “light-music’ entertainment. David Nice wrote last year of Vladimir Jurowski, “quite apart from the immaculate preparation and the most elegant conducting style in the business, Jurowski programmes with an imagination matched by none of London’s other principal conductors.” Bruce Hodges tweeted that the Juilliard Orchestra, under Jurowski’s superb direction, “played ferociously.” I agree. Shostakovich was in the room that night, vibrantly and mischievously and exuberantly alive.

Dylan Mattingly’s The Bakkhai (Contemporaneous; David Bloom, conductor)

Bakkhai IMG_0375_edited-1Classics scholars study ancient Greek tragedy for years and years, but, except for the rhythms of the text, its music is lost. All scholars have to go by is the text—not insubstantial, but still a fragment of what had been a larger whole that once included music and dance. Dylan Mattingly charged himself, in undertaking his composition The Bakkhai, to understand ancient Greek texts in the original, their historical and cultural context, what ancient Greek music might have sounded like, and what contributed to that sound. As one example, Helene Foley (a Professor of Classics at Barnard College who has put on many performances of ancient Greek tragedies) noted how well Mattingly’s music corresponded not only to the rhythms, but also to the pitch accents, of the original Greek text.

The resulting work, of course, could have been confined to a finely wrought academic exercise. How, for one, would Mattingly conjure up the terrifying chorus in which the bakkhai murdered Pentheus by ripping him apart? How does a kind and decent person get his imagination around that? Mattingly approached the issue by stripping the chorus of any pitch: drums beat with increasing savagery, their rhythms seeming to collide, and from the chorus text issued in sinister whispers, absent of song. With each chorus, Mattingly, in an act of transcendent imagination, gave us not a mechanical reconstruction (which alone would have been a feat), but a musical summoning of that ancient world into the present, a wholly contemporary work that built an enthralling, evocative—and sometimes terrifying—musical bridge from the present to that ancient past.

The challenges not only Mattingly, but also the performers of Contemporaneous, faced to arrive at the moment of performance were incalculable. Western ears are attuned to the sounds of the twelve equal-tempered notes of the piano, and conventional training of singers and performers follows suit. The singers, in particular, had to “unlearn” standard Western pitches enough not only to hear the different, broader range of pitches of just intonation, but also to be able to sing them, including in harmonies that sometimes existed entirely between two consecutive notes in a standard Western scale. To achieve a performance with which they might be satisfied, Contemporaneous conducted more than twenty-four hours of rehearsal for this 30-minute piece, including coaching from a Bard professor in the tones of just intonation. Not only that, but the singers were required to master the text in ancient Greek. (They succeeded: Professor Foley praised their pronunciation of the text.) The remainder of the musicians had plenty on their plates, too, including mastering The Bakkhai’s tricky rhythms.

On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the members of Contemporaneous turned in a superb performance of Mattingly’s spellbinding work. Euripides would have been proud.

Z Bakkhai Performers IMG_0406_edited-1Photographs of Contemporaneous’s world premiere performance of Dylan Mattingly’s The Bakkhai, including the program and roster of performers, are included in the slideshow below.

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Postscript: I will be offline more than on for the remainder of the year. I look forward to catching up with you in the New Year, if not before.

Listening List

For a playlist on Spotify, click here. (This is a sampling of the works listed; the recording shown in the post was not available on Spotify in every case. Alternative recordings of the works have been selected, where possible.)

On YouTube:

Sarah Cahill on The Music of Frederic Rzewski

Benjamin Britten, Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings

Jeremy Denk on the Goldberg Variations (Aria)

Alfred Schnittke, Viola Concerto


Endnote: Hanslip is excellent, though my first choice would have been the recording with Leila Josefowicz as violinist, had a new CD been available at a plausible price.

Credits: The quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr. is from his 1964 Nobel lecture. The quotation from David Nice may be found here.

18 thoughts on “My Year In Music 2013

  1. Mark Kerstetter

    Wow, what a great reminder of some of the things you’ve introduced me to this year – but there were even more. I’d have to keep a notebook to keep track of the music you’ve turned me on to. Of the list of recordings (which I’ll take advantage of revisiting) Adams’ violin concerto is definitely a high point for me. And I don’t know which of the live performances you’ve seen I’m most jealous of – Bernard Haitink and Shostakovich (!), Lembit Beecher’s concert or the exciting young composers and musicians at Bard. I would love to have seen Mattingly’s Bakkhai concert.

    I concur with what you say about audience engagement at a concert. I am fortunate to have two opera companies in my area. The one that plays at the smaller venue with the smaller budget is always more enjoyable. There’s intimacy and charm and audience enthusiasm that the higher budget company can’t touch.

    Thanks for making my musical world bigger, Sue. I hope there will be much more to come.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Mark: I was surprised when I went back through the year how many live performances I wanted to note. It was a pleasure to go back and revisit those experiences. I wish everyone had been with me to hear Lembit Beecher’s concert and Dylan Mattingly’s The Bakkhai program, particularly. They were both fascinating, intimate, multi-dimensional events. I learned an enormous amount from each of them.

      On the recordings side, I said to a friend recently that the more I learn, the less I know. The Schnittke has been sitting on my shelf for years. I’d listened to it long ago without much understanding, and now I can’t imagine why. Then this leads me to want to hear more Schnittke and know more about his music, and that’s just one example of what happens. Shostakovich and Britten are particularly good examples of the more I know the less I know, as I’ve explored their music more fully than many of the others, and this only seems to result in uncovering more I haven’t heard and want to hear.

  2. David N

    What an abundance to digest, but how wonderful to have the time at last over the coming weeks to do so. When can we hear a performance of Mattingly’s complete Bakkhai choruses? Like you I couldn’t wait to hear what he might do with the sparagmos, the tearing of Pentheus limb from limb. Glad it more than lived up to expectations.

    I should have loved to be there at ALL those NY experiences you mention – and your commentary on the active engagement of the audience is something I share and applaud. I got rapped over the knuckles recently for complaining about the low-level restlessness of Carnegie Hall audiences in my limited experience, but we simply don’t get that here in the concerts I’ve attended. Spellbound silences at the end of specially moving works are much more the norm.

    Must get hold of Denk’s Goldberg and Sarah Cahill’s discs. And thank you this year especially for introducing me to the very promising music of Lembit Beecher.

    Can I make one slight carping plea as this is a bete noire of mine – you’d be surprised how many great writers make the error: you can’t rise TO a crescendo (well, I suppose you can but then you have to keep on rising), you can only rise IN one.

    Anyway huge respect and gratitude for this enriching process. Long may it continue and happy holidays.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: I wish you’d been there, too, particularly for Lembit’s and Dylan’s Bakkhai concerts. I am hoping for a recording of each, knocking wood! I thought of you during the panel discussion after the Bakkhai concert, with Dylan up there fielding questions from three, count ’em three, classics professors. As an example, at one point, Foley asked him about his handling of the strophes and antistrophes in writing the work. I am but a feeble reporter, with no knowledge of the ancient Greek texts, but I can tell you that Dylan responded at interesting length, including his thinking about addressing the issue of repeats. I hope there might be a recording of the talk, too, so that it’s possible to listen again (and again) and glean more.

      I want to thank you, also, for enormously enriching my musical year with so many insights and recommendations over your way and on The Arts Desk. Among many other things, it’s you who alerted me to Vladimir Jurowski and Neeme Järvi—and perhaps most of all, it’s you who provided the needed subtle nudge to undertake a study of the Shostakovich symphonies. What an amazing experience that has been (though I’m all too aware that I’m not even half-way through). I am grateful to be able to return the favor with those on my list you’ve mentioned you’ve enjoyed or would like to explore.

      You are indeed the “gift that keeps on giving,” too. For those coming here who may not have seen these elsewhere, I HIGHLY recommend the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of David’s Parsifal CD review. Even if you think you’re not interested in opera or this opera, it’s fascinating. Here, again, is the link: (four days left to listen as I write). Also, David has written a beautiful review of the closing concert for Southbank’s The Rest Is Noise Festival in London, which featured John Adams’ gorgeous oratorio El Niño. That may be found here: And Nice has written about another beautiful piece that some readers may know but I did not, Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ. That review may be found, with a link to the performance, available on BBC Radio 3 for a few more days at the end of the post, here:

      PS to David: Enriching my knowledge down to the important details. I’d never given a thought to “to” vs. “in,” but now that you’ve noted it, “in” is obviously the only correct choice!

      1. David N

        I’m so delighted to be in touch with Sarah Cahill through you, and after I’d contacted her I watched the little film: a born communicator. And she’s a neighbour of the Adams/O’Gradeys!

        Did Dylan study Greek? I’m curious to know how he mastered the complexities. Perhaps we can expect an opera in due course: Trachiniae is perhaps my favourite, at least among the small body of extant Sophocles plays.

        While it’s a drag to be be negative, It feels like a real privilege to wear a critic’s hat when I want the world to know the piece – as I do especially with El Nino and L’enfance du Christ. I hope in that respect I’m more what beloved Sir Charles Mackerras described – ‘a publicist for music’. The more I get to know Berlioz, the more I put him up there among the handful of Greatest, equal to Wagner (and I’m not sure if ultimately I don’t prefer him – the message of welcoming in the homeless with song and dance at the end of L’enfance is so much more meaningful than the end of Parsifal!)

        I love what you say about marvellous Neeme in your response to Shoreacres. I’m sure he would have obliged if he could, though I doubt if the orchestra had the music on their stands (Ivan Fischer in Budapest has made a speciality of ‘audience request’ concerts).

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          David: I like the idea of a publicist for music, and you are surely that! And hooray that you made contact with Sarah Cahill. I do love these connecting threads, don’t you? As to Dylan, yes, he is getting two degrees, one in classics and one in music composition. (When he gave the presentation about The Bakkhai in April, he recited the text in the original Greek to demonstrate some of its rhythms.) In fact, all students in the conservatory are required to get a second degree in the college–so very unlike what you experienced at Oxford, isn’t it? As for an opera, you may be amused to know that a comment from another of the professors, Daniel Mendelsohn, was exactly to that point, asking if he’d considered a whole opera of The Bakkhai. Perhaps it or another will come along one day!

  3. shoreacres

    First, the grin. I laughed when I got to the line about David Nagy’s senior recital – that he “showed us once again the full glory of the bassoon.” I don’t know why that should seem so funny. I’m quite fond of both the bassoon and the oboe. Still, it tickled me, and reminded me of one reason I’ve enjoyed reading you this year even when I didn’t have but half a clue what you were talking about. You have the ability to keep me interested with those little turns of phrase that are like bits of illumination in the darkness.

    I was most interested in George Grella’s review of The White Light Concert. It’s a program which suddenly seems appealing to me. Perhaps Anaïs Nin’s wisdom applies to music, too. She said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Couldn’t we just as easily say, “We don’t hear things as they are, we hear them as we are”?

    In any event, you’ve educated and brought enjoyment over the past year. While you’re on hiatus, I’ll be listening to some of the gifts you’ve given us. Enjoy the holidays!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      shoreacres: Love the grin, not to mention your quote from Anaïs Nin, which sounds just right to me. I think you may well have enjoyed the White Lights concert, particularly–including the woman with the knit beret jumping up and down with such excitement from the balcony boxes that I worried she might go overboard. When Järvi announced he would do an encore, she jumped up and down even more, calling out the one she’d like. Järvi smiled up at her, straining to hear, or so it seemed to me. I like to think, though I couldn’t hear, that the encore he and the orchestra played was her request, even if it wasn’t what he’d had in mind.

  4. hilarymb

    Hi Sue – this is a brilliant wrap-up of your year .. while for me – it is a post I can come back to and explore some of the works …

    Enjoy a breathing space, listening and enjoying your music while the Christmas and New Year festivities come around …

    Cheers Hilary

  5. angela

    Bookmarking this, Sue, for I am still wading about in limbo between life and a really odd work schedule – mind is too scattered to absorb this wealth of information. I can only thank you so much for your continued diligence to offer us a wonderful platform for music of today and yesterday. Denk is One I can comment on – enjoy it everytime I give a listen – I would know nothing of him if not a name featured here long ago – merci beaucoup… Enjoy the Solstice and holiday ~ a

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      angela: Nice to see you there! The Denk is terrific, isn’t it? I think you’ve listened to a bit of the Janáček and enjoyed it, too. The whole album is much in the same vein, so I think you’d enjoy that one when you have space and time. Best wishes to you, also, for the holidays, and I look forward to visiting over your way again in the New Year, if not before!

  6. Steve Schwartzman

    I’ve long noticed all the coughing at performances of classical music. I wonder if there’s a similar amount at rock concerts but we just can’t hear it because of all the noise.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Steve: A study this year suggests something else at work:,do-classical-audiences-cough-on-purpose.aspx. My own very anecdotal, and therefore totally unscientific, observations confirm much of this. (The article also comments on John Cage’s 4’33” and the subject of ambient noise. I’ve been to the lovely Maverick Hall where 4’33” received its premiere, and I suspect the sounds at that premiere, with the doors open wide to the woods, were by and large natural sounds. For the concert we attended, not of 4’33”, but Britten and other string quartets, the ambient sound was a gentle rain outside, and almost no coughing inside, although I believe someone’s cell phone went off. Of course, I assume Cage would have embraced any ambient noise. I’m not Zen enough for that.)

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        Thanks for that article, Susan. I’ve observed that concert coughing is often catching, but I still wonder about the conjecture that it’s intentional. Oh well, in any case I liked the article’s reference to Tchaicoughsky. As for Maverick Hall, the very name might inspire some people to contravene social norms.

        1. Susan Scheid Post author

          Steve: Agreed on the subject of intentionality–that seemed a bit on the speculative side to me. As for being maverick at the Maverick, good chance. After all, it is located in Woodstock, NY.

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