Classical News from NPR

What makes a first-tier jazz legacy? A signature instrumental style, recognizable within a phrase or two. A body of exceptional recordings, in the studio and in concert. A legion of imitators, great and small. A sense of broad cultural relevance. Maybe even a hit song or two.

Until recently, most classical music videos have been humdrum affairs. Musicians, in concert attire, earnestly produce their notes with eyes closed and heads tilted in a beatific expression, somewhere between a migraine and an attempt to channel Bach from the heavens.

Two additional women, violinists Emilia Mettenbrink and Raffaela Kalmar, have made allegations of sexual misconduct against violinist William Preucil, the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and a now-former instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). Their accusations were printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday.

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Although 2015 produced arguably fewer big headlines in classical music than its predecessors, there were still surprising stories.

Cecilia String Quartet

This week's CD of the Week on Classical 90.5 is the new release from the Toronto-based Cecilia String Quartet.

For their latest release the quartet focuses on a pair of string quartets that Felix Mendelssohn wrote in 1838 while honeymooning in Germany's Black Forest. Trevor Harris recently interviewed the quartet's cellist Rachel Desoer. They talked about working on your honeymoon, the quartet's concerts for special needs students and how the group selects their concert and performance repertoire.

Amid the ubiquitous din of annual chestnuts like "Jingle Bells" and "Let it Snow," you may be surprised to learn that people are actually writing new holiday songs. And as it turns out, some of them are pretty great.

A Jazz Piano Christmas 2015

Dec 11, 2015

Every year, NPR Music invites some of the world's top piano players to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We ask them to play solo versions of their favorite holiday music for a live audience, and the recording becomes the public radio special A Jazz Piano Christmas.

Jean Sibelius, born 150 years ago on Dec. 8, 1865, was the first Finnish composer to reach an international audience, but his popularity began at home. In the late 1890s, Finland was a part of the Russian empire and its people were striving for independence.

Wayne Horvitz is one of those musicians who does almost everything — from leading a small group of improvisers to conducting a big band, and from composing for symphony orchestra to running a nightclub. The Seattle-based keyboard player turned 60 this year, and he's celebrating by adding even more to his schedule: playing birthday concerts on both coasts.

Ingrid Jensen On Piano Jazz

Dec 4, 2015

Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen has built a strong reputation among critics and peers — including Marian McPartland, who praised the warmth and virtuosity of her playing. Jensen's performances as a leader and featured soloist have taken her around the world, and she can be heard with the Christine Jensen Orchestra, her own quartet and quintet formations, and a number of New York bands.

If we're relying on the younger generation to help boost interest in classical music, look no further than Teddy Abrams.

In 1964, near the end of his career, Billy Strayhorn accompanied himself on a live recording of one of his best-known songs. It starts:

I used to visit all the very gay places

Those come-what-may places

Billy Strayhorn In Five Songs

Nov 29, 2015

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