Our A has left us

February 28th, 2013 · < mtheo >

Before each performance Bill Bennett sounded the A to which the San Francisco Symphony tuned. He was an incomparable oboist, with a range of dynamics and shading beyond any I, at least, have ever heard; but he was also an incomparable man. He was a treasured guest DJ on classics without walls several times; he was warm, witty, passionate about music and about radio, exceptionally articulate, and possessed of a graceful, easy delivery I envied – not to mention his charismatic good looks. It was a privilege to hear him making music for the last three decades, and even more of one to get to know him even a little; but to know who Bill was, one had only to watch him interacting with his colleagues on the Davies stage, and see the depth of love and esteem they so clearly held for him. As my wife put it, it’s hard to imagine another loss that could so rip the heart out of our orchestra. The San Francisco Symphony truly has been tuning itself to Bill Bennett these many years, and it is heartbreaking to lose him so young.

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent radio station?”

January 22nd, 2011 · < mtheo >

As you probably know by now, at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 18, as the result of a complex transaction with even more complex backstories, the University of San Francisco abruptly and permanently shut down KUSF-FM, which had been in continuous operation as a community service since 1977.

It is too soon to speak definitively about future broadcasts, whether on the University’s planned web stream or elsewhere; but all other classics without walls projects will of course continue, including (”as soon as it’s ready”) the new version of the Gurre-Lieder Project (bringing to bear upon the translation the original Danish of J. P. Jacobsen for the first time in English), liturgical experiments at Loper Chapel in Berkeley, and, as always, anything our disjointed minds can dream up in the service of pointing toward the substantial reality of music-making.

This site, which has lain unupdated since three weeks before forever (for a long time pending the new official KUSF site that never quite came about), will carry whatever news is essential; if you wish to receive mail updates, just drop me a line at m t h e o   a t   a m u r a l   d o t   c o m .

In the meantime, I heartily recommend stopping by the KUSF Archives site for several reasons:

  • it is the central site for the rapidly developing news about KUSF
  • KUSF DJs are already posting their new programming, even in advance of the university’s planned streaming
  • you can listen to thousands of hours of archived KUSF programs (including, of course, classics without walls)

Playlist #928: 2010-01-25

January 25th, 2010 · < mtheo >
Hector Berlioz: Le damnation de Faust, op.24: Rákóczi march (1846)
Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Chorus / Wilhelm Furtwängler cond (wire rec. 1950-08-26, Eklipse EKR 60)
Johannes Brahms: Sonata for violoncello and piano in F major, op. 99 (1886)
Jacqueline DuPre vc / Daniel Barenboim pf (EMI CDM 7 63298 2, rec. 1968)
Witold Lutosławski: Muzyka żałobna / Funeral music for string orchestra (1954–1958)
Hamburg Symphony / Arthur Gruber cond (Vox Candide CE 31035)

Playlist #914: 2009-10-19

October 19th, 2009 · < Renée >
Franz Schubert: Der leiermann, from Winterreise, D911
Hans Hotter bass / Gerald Moore pf (EMI Classics 0724356700024)
Johannes Brahms: Piano quintet in f minor, op. 34
Quintetto Fauré di Roma (Maureen Jones pf / Pina Carmirelli vn / Federico Agostini vn / Massimo Paris, va / Francesco Strano vc) (Claves 50-8702)
Franz Schubert: Gute nacht, from Winterreise, D911
Hans Hotter bass / Gerald Moore pf (EMI Classics 0724356700024)

Playlist #912: 2009-10-5

October 5th, 2009 · < Renée >
Antonín Dvořák: Trio for piano, violin & cello, op. 65, B. 130 (1883)
Emanuel Ax pf / Young Uck Kim vn / Yo-Yo Ma vc (CBS MK44527)
Ned Rorem:Book of hours for flute and harp (1975)
Fenwick Smith hp / Ann Jobson Pilot hp (ETCETERA 1184)

Playlist #910: 2009-09-21

September 21st, 2009 · < Renée >
Sergei Prokofiev: Piano sonata no. 5 in C major, op. 135
György Sandor pf (VOXC 3500)
Béla Bartók: Piano concerto no. 1, Sz 83 (1926)
György Sandor pf / Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra / Rolf Reinhardt cond (VOXC 25506)
Gustav Holst: A Somerset rhapsody, op. 21b / H 87 (1906)
North Texas University Wind Ensemble / Eugene Corporon cond (Gia 655)

Fixed at last, fixed at last, thank . . .

September 21st, 2009 · < mtheo >

With a huge backlog of playlists accumulated while the posting mechanism was broken (several months now), it may be a while before we’re current. We may go ahead and install a completely new site in the hope of preventing a recurrence (or, as 99% of the populace now apparently believe is the word, “reoccurrence”). Don’t let it throw you! For now, though, we’re in catch-up mode.

Playlist #888: 2009-04-20

April 20th, 2009 · < Renée >
Henryk Gorecki: Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (1976), Symphony of sorrowful songs
Dawn Upshaw sop / London Sinfonietta / David Zinman cond (Elektra Nonesuch D100110)

Playlist #887: 2009-04-13

April 13th, 2009 · < mtheo >
György Ligeti: Sonata for violoncello solo: I. Dialogue (1948-53)
Matt Haimovitz vc (SFCO 2005-06)
Arnold Schoenberg: Suite for string orchestra in G (1934)
Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin / John Mauceri cond (London 448 619-2)
J. S. Bach: Suite for violoncello solo no. 2 in D minor BWV 1008 (ca. 1720)
Anner Bylsma vc (Sony SBK 61811)

Gurre-Lieder at the ORG, March 29, 2009

March 23rd, 2009 · < mtheo >

“Many people came to the first performance ready to whistle on their house keys (the traditional Viennese method of expressing public displeasure), but the house keys were not used: people wept and cheered, and Schoenberg received an ovation that lasted a quarter of an hour.”

CHARLES ROSEN on the première
of Songs of Gurre, February 23, 1913

M. Theo’s mixed-media presentation of Arnold Schönberg’s Songs of Gurre returns to Berkeley on the last Sunday of March, courtesy of composer Bill Ludtke’s splendid ORG Salon Concerts series. Some consider this immense song cycle (calling for orchestral, choral, and solo resources well beyond those of Mahler’s symphony “of a thousand”) the pinnacle of Romanticism in music. I am one of them. I also consider it the great critique of, and antidote to, Romanticism. Since this work is so rarely performed, I’ve made a practice of presenting it every few years in recorded form, under conditions as close to ideal as I can muster: comfortable hall, excellent sound system, with synchronized German text and updated translation on screen – legibly! – synchronized to the music. I’ll introduce the cycle with plenty of little-known background that will enhance the encounter with the music for first-timer and old hand alike. For further information please contact me by email or phone (see the flyer thumbnailed above). The ORG is at 2601 Durant Avenue, at the corner of Bowditch Street – right across the street from Hotel Durant and Henry’s Publick House. Hope to see you there!