Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 2:47 pm
When Amit Peled was 10, his parents gave him a gift: a cassette of music by cello master Pablo Casals. Peled had no classical background; his parents were not musicians. He says his own budding interest in the cello was a scam, a way of getting close to a girl in his town who happened to play the instrument. And yet, every night, he would fall asleep with the tape playing from a boombox beside his bed. The music made an impression.
Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 5:24 pm
We were all here before. Rising up out of the subway onto 125th Street, it strikes me that I should come uptown to Harlem more often. The Popeye's on 125th and St. Nicholas Avenue is still there, offering the same crispy bird parts and sodium-heavy buttermilk biscuits; it's still the same bustling, up-til-3-a.m. refuge it always was. Vendors still hawk street literature, pamphlets and incense sticks on fold-up tables that line the sidewalks. It could just as easily be 1995. That's when I was restless and unsettled.
Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:09 am
Even trailblazing composers like Steve Reich sometimes look to the distant past for inspiration. His 1993 Duet for two violins and strings is music in which minimalism reaches back to its ancient roots. These six minutes of mesmerizing sunshine recall both the rigorous counterpoint of J.S.
Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 6:27 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Sam Smith won four Grammy Awards last night. And that was good news for Tom Petty. Petty and another songwriter will get royalties from Smith's hit "Stay With Me" because it sounds a lot like one of their songs. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.
On Sunday night, the big Grammy Award winners included Beck and Sam Smith, both of whom put out records that moved pretty slowly. As Stephen Thompson and I note in our wrap-up of the night, the ceremony was a little heavy also, despite some strong performances and a helpful infusion of social commentary.
Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 2:48 pm
Sam Smith, the British singer whose debut album, In the Lonely Hour, was one of only two albums released in 2014 to go platinum, won four Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year, as well as Best New Artist.
Music critics these days love to argue about "rockism," the unexamined prejudices we bring to our musical judgements, and "poptimism," an effort to celebrate commercial stuff that some think goes way too far. My book, Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music, aims to get us out of that endless back and forth by focusing on the key place songs become pop: radio, which, beginning on AM with Top 40 in the 1950s and then moving to FM in the 1970s, gave music its deepest connection to Americans. Radio made new tunes and styles familiar, perennial, memories.