Aaron Dworkin says he did not know about many black classical composers before he went to college. Long before he was named a MacArthur Fellow or became a University of Michigan dean, Dworkin lived in a small Pennsylvania town where he didn’t see other young men of color like him playing string instruments. The day Dworkin’s professor pulled works by William Grant Still off the shelf, a whole new world was opened up to him.
Trombonist Amanda Stewart compares it to a slow-moving glacier – the gradual acceptance of talented women playing brass instruments in the United States’ most renowned orchestras. Stewart is the associate principal trombone for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and is among the 3% of trombone players in the nation’s top orchestras who are women. When she was younger, she did not realize women had a small presence in the brass sections of professional orchestras.
This month marks 100 years since the guns were silenced in Europe on “the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month” in 1918, ending World War I. Concerts are being held across the globe to commemorate how the war influenced the world of music. Here are ten ways the war had an impact on the arts and culture:
A large wall photo at a Philadelphia exhibition shows Leonard Bernstein during one of the most poignant days of his life – a day in 1948 when he conducted a concert with a small group of Holocaust survivors in Germany. The picture and the story behind the moment are part of the Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History. The presentation marks what would have been Bernstein’s 100th birthday in August 2018.
David Kim paused after playing a few exquisite bars of music on his Italian violin. The concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra seemed concerned that his instrument may be echoing too loudly across the sweeping multistory lobby of the Kimmel Center, where other people were working or visiting. This moment during our Pepper interview showcased both Kim’s humble nature and his concern for others – along with his extraordinary talent.
Emmy-winning classical composer Julie Giroux says she didn’t know about any women composers when she was studying music, and when she first entered the field she didn’t meet any, either. Unfortunately, she is not alone in this experience. It’s only in the last few decades that women composers have begun to be recognized in some of the music industry’s top areas.
Quietly, in places ranging from convents to conservatories to farms, extraordinary women have written innovative music without the benefit of fame. Historical archives hint at the challenges they have faced. Critics called composer Ethel Smyth a “little woman” with “utterly unfeminine” works, and Florence Price echoed the concerns of other minority women when she penned in a famous letter: “To begin with I have two handicaps – those of sex and race.”
Great music tells a great story. Be it the story of a moment, the story of a feeling, or the story of a generation, music delivers the message in ways that mere words cannot. The ability to print sheet music spread these stories to people around the world. One of the earliest purveyors of printed music was the company C.F. Peters; in fact, the company was so closely linked to the spread of sheet music that the story of C.F. Peters is, truly, the story of printed music.
If there’s any time during the year that’s best for introducing classical music to the uninitiated listener, it’s summer. Thanks to seasonal changes in venue, pricing, and repertoire for many notable orchestras over the summer months, concerts during this time create an enticing entry point to the art form of live classical music.
When it comes to printed classics, Bärenreiter is at the forefront of the music world. Take a moment to watch and enjoy this video on their newest Urtext editions of classic works. Urtext editions are pieces printed to best represent the intentions of the composer. Bärenreiter’s new Urtext editions give musicians the chance to play music they love exactly as it was meant to be played.