JPR Classics

JPR Classics is a place to come for all things classical in the State of Jefferson.  We'll honor our rich classical heritage while looking to the future, showcasing inspired performances by the next generation of classical musicians. The classics live on JPR!

I love composer anniversaries because they afford us opportunities to look at musicians anew, and 2015 will mark the centenary of the death of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. It's quite possible that you've never heard of Scriabin, but take comfort in the fact that even his biographer said, "No one was more famous during their lifetime, and few were more quickly ignored after death."

The Metropolitan Opera in New York is bracing for one of the more controversial productions in its history. Since its first performance more than 20 years ago, some critics have charged that composer John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer is anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic. But the opera's supporters dispute that. They argue that Klinghoffer is a dramatic masterpiece that deserves to make its Met debut on Monday.

The Case Of The Stolen Stradivarius

Oct 13, 2014

Stradivarius violins are so important that they come with their own biographies. Several hundred of them survive today, and they're so prized, you can trace their lineages through the musicians who played them over the centuries.

The instruments have been valued at prices ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to several million. That kind of money attracts a lot of nonmusicians, like investors — and thieves.

For more than a century, the Royal Shakespeare Company in England has hired composers to write original music for its productions. That sheet music has sat in a vault for decades — until now.

The company has started releasing albums that combine music from its contemporary productions with much older works.

Bruce O'Neill, head of music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, describes the archive as "a bit like a bank vault."

A film opened in the U.S. this weekend about the life of Simón Bolivar, the military leader who helped free much of Latin America from the Spanish Empire. Libertador, or The Liberator, tells that story with the help of rousing music by a first-time film-score composer: Gustavo Dudamel.

A Saturday performance of the St. Louis Symphony was disrupted by demonstrators protesting the killing of Michael Brown, the black, unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

"Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all," protesters sang, before asking the audience, "Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on?"

Tuning Pianos In The Digital Age

Sep 29, 2014

Does anyone tune pianos any more? And how?

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson went to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, Mass., which offers nine-month courses in piano technology.

He met Debbie Cyr, who tunes instruments and also instructs students at the school. It turns out that there is still a demand for piano tuning as many of those who practice the profession decide to retire.

Eric Teel

The Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet, based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, formed in 1939, is a monument to Russian musical history. The present members Mikhail Bondarev (violin), Ekaterina Belisova (violin), Alexei Popov (viola), Anton Andreev (cello) are graduates of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory who, by virtue of a shared background steeped in the grand tradition of Russian music making, achieve organic and convincing interpretations of a diverse repertoire of masterworks, Russian classics, and contemporary masters.

This past April, composer John Luther Adams became the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his piece Become Ocean — a work commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, the recording of which comes out this Tuesday.

Adams says that he got the call with the good news in the middle of a afternoon power nap, during an exhausting teaching residency at Michigan Tech University.

"I heard the word and asked the person on the other end, 'You know, could I call you back?' " Adams remembers. "Talk about your wake-up call."

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to open its 70th season this week, but musicians have been locked out of their workplace since September 7th, when their contract expired. The same thing happened just two years ago. Back then, negotiators reached a new agreement before opening night. This year, Atlanta classical music fans were not so lucky.

A few weeks ago, in an act of brazen thievery, your devoted NPR Classical hosts appropriated an idea from our colleague Bob Mondello, NPR's film critic. Each Friday he tweets movie suggestions for the weekend.

For The Love Of Cello

Sep 22, 2014

A study published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience looks at free music programs aimed at at-risk kids, and finds that studying music improves performance in the human brain.

Youth Radio’s Scott Lau went through a similar program.

He’s now a freshman at the University of Southern California studying the music business and the cello.

He sent us this audio postcard about how playing the cello changed him.

First Listen: Brooklyn Rider, 'The Brooklyn Rider Almanac'

Sep 22, 2014

It's become a trope that artists aren't interested in being limited by genre — at least the really fascinating ones, that is. One of the most enjoyable current examples of this reach beyond stylistic divides is Almanac, the newest project from the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

Review: John Luther Adams, 'Become Ocean'

Sep 22, 2014

Even if you're not a fan of classical music, you have heard of Frédéric Chopin: His music has appeared in countless movies, TV shows and commercials, even video games. But it's almost certain you haven't heard the Polish composer performed the way Chad Lawson plays him.

The votes are in. The people of Scotland have chosen to remain in the United Kingdom. To mark the historic occasion, a wee reminder of what the Scots have contributed to classical music is in order.

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