George Crumb, An Idyll for the Misbegotten (1985/1997)

George Crumb is one of the most remarkable composers of our time. His dramatic tension, phrasing, and score eye-candy garner thousands of performances worldwide every year. Pieces like Ancient Voices of Children and Voice of the Whale seem to have established firm footholds in the permanent repertoire. Dropping the “Contemporary Hornist” persona, I would like […]

Ernö Dohnányi, Sextet in C Major (1935)

Some composers garner substantial performance histories of their works that continue decades or centuries after they die. Others do not, and the reasons can be mysterious. Ernö Dohnányi (1877-1960) was a first-rate musician who composed polished and sophisticated pieces of grand scope. His ideas at times reflect innovations in music of the early twentieth century […]

Jennifer Margaret Barker – umurangi-kikorangi (2007)

Composer Jennifer Margaret Barker cut her musical teeth playing oboe in a Scots community band. She also played fiddle and keyboard, so perhaps she was a one-person band in her own right: a quadruple threat. And although she is an American citizen now, she has never strayed far from her Celtic roots. I. Sound Explosions […]

Aleksandra Chmielewska – Trio Elegiaco (2016)

Has the epoch of melody ended? Is story-telling passé? Creative artists of the 21st century seriously debate these questions. But one who is having none of it is the Polish composer and author Aleksandra Chmielewska. And none of her compositions demonstrates her commitment to melody more than her Trio Elegiaco for violin, horn, and piano. […]

Bohuslav Martinů – Quartet (1924)

Some historians think Bohuslav Martinů suffered from Aspergers syndrome. He was shy in conversation, had extreme stage fright, and endured significant motor clumsiness. But he was also a prolific composer, and his music is as outward facing as his personality was inward. I. The Stravinsky Connection In 1923 Martinů abandoned his life in Prague and […]

Ralph Vaughn Williams – Quintet in D Major (1898)

The Quintet in D Major by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872–1958) is surely off-topic for a blog devoted to contemporary music. Its style owes a great deal to Johannes Brahms, and its composition date is firmly within the Romantic Period. But what stirs the interest of a contemporary hornist is the piece’s unusual performance history. After […]

Next Page »