Verena Wagner Lafferentz died on April 19, at the age of 98. She was the last surviving grandchild of Richard Wagner — and it is astonishing to contemplate that the grandchild of a man born in 1813 was alive until last week. Mark Berry makes the striking observation that Verena must have been one of the very last living people to have known Hitler personally. Hitler doted on the Wagner grandchildren from the late 1920s onward, and while Wieland received most of his attention he appears also to have enjoyed Verena's company. Her husband, Bodo Lafferentz, was a high-ranking SS officer who oversaw the Strength Through Joy program that brought wounded soldiers to Bayreuth during the war. In later years, Verena appears to have felt no responsibility to help us understand Hitler or to shed light on her family's complicity in the regime. At least she avoided dying on the Führer's birthday.
Weinberg, Symphonies Nos. 2 and 21; Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with the Kremerata Baltica and Gidon Kremer (DG, out May 3)
Schubert, Sonatas D958 and 959, Impromptus D899, Drei Klavierstücke; András Schiff (ECM)
Stefan Prins, Augmented: Generation Kill, Piano Hero, Third Space, Not I, and other works; Nadar Ensemble, Klangforum Wien, Stephanie Ginsburgh, Yaron Deutsch (Kairos CD / DVD)
Black Composers Series, 1974–1978 (Sony)
Dominique Schafer, Vers une présence réelle and other works; Matthias Kuhn conducting the ensemble proton bern (Kairos)
Juri Seo, Respiri and other works; Argus Quartet, Joann Whang (Innova, out May 24)
Mr. Handel's Dinner: Concertos, Sonatas, and Chaconnes by Handel and His Inner Circle; Maurice Steger, La Cetra (Harmonia Mundi)
Congratulations to Ellen Reid, whose opera p r i s m, on a libretto by Roxie Perkins, has won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The première took place at Redcat, in Los Angeles, under the auspices of L.A. Opera and Beth Morrison Projects; I wrote about it here. I first encountered Reid's work when she contributed a memorable outdoor scene to Yuval Sharon's multi-composer Hopscotch project. Andrew Norman's Sustain was one of two finalists, alongside James Romig's Still. I heard Sustain at the LA Phil and found it be one of the strongest American orchestral works of recent years. I missed Romig's piece, which was recorded by New World, but will be sure to explore it. For an exploration of recent trends in the music Pulitzer, read Will Robin in the New York Times. After the surprise win last year by the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, it is tempting to say that the Pulitzer has reverted to the old routine. However, the likes of Reid, Du Yun, and Henry Threadgill hardly conform to academic models and represent a real diversification in terms of style and subject matter. The lack of a celebrity name will undoubtedly minimize attention this year, but these choices still matter.
Andrew Patner, A Portrait in Four Movements: The Chicago Symphony under Barenboim, Boulez, Haitink, and Muti, ed. Doug Shadle and John Schmidt (University of Chicago Press)
Sumanth Gopinath and Pwyll Ap Siôn, eds., Rethinking Reich (Oxford UP)
Michael P. Steinberg, The Problem with Wagner (University of Chicago Press)
Timo Jouko Herrmann, Antonio Salieri: Eine Biografie (Morio)
Ian Woodfield, Cabals & Satires: Mozart's Comic Operas in Vienna (Oxford UP)
Timothy Hampton, Bob Dylan's Poetics: How the Songs Work (Zone)
Susan McClary, The Passions of Peter Sellars: Staging the Music (University of Michigan Press)
Jack Kohl, Bone Over Ivory: Essays from a Standing Pianist (Pauktaug Press)
Lawrence Kramer, The Hum of the World: A Philosophy of Listening (University of California Press)
Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a three-concert festival of the noted Angeleno composer Igor Stravinsky. The lineup includes Funeral Song, Agon, The Rite of Spring, Requiem Canticles, Mass, Cantata, Orpheus, and Perséphone, the last staged by Peter Sellars.... On Saturday, the perennially fresh LA series Jacaranda presents works of James Tenney, Julius Eastman, Lukas Foss, and Frederic Rzewski, with SUNY Buffalo as the common thread.... Yo-Yo Ma brings his Bach Project to the US-Mexico border this weekend, playing the six solo suites in San Antonio and then making appearances in Laredo TX and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.... A busy cross-country week for loadbang: this weekend, premiere performances of Hannah Lash's The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep in Santa Fe and Albuquerque; then a Heather Stebbins composer portrait in Brooklyn; and, on April 18, a concert at Opera America featuring world premieres by Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf and George Lewis.... Loadbang member Jeff Gavett also performs with Ekmeles on May 10... Blank Forms celebrates the late Maryanne Amacher in Philadelphia this weekend.... On May 4 in Chicago, the Spektral Quartet investigates the fascinating electroacoustic work of Christopher Trapani.... On April 20 at the DiMenna Center in NYC, the Talea Ensemble marks its first decade with a fairly awesome lineup of works by Grisey, Iannotta, Takasugi, Diaz de Leon, George Lewis, Cheung, Neuwirth, Fure, Thomalla, Diels, and GF Haas.... On April 29 in Eugene, Oregon, the undersigned will give a lecture at the University of Oregon's German and Scandinavian Department on the topic "Lords of the Ring: Wagner and Fantasy Culture."
In the space of ten days in February, 2015, I lost two beloved friends: the music critic and radio host Andrew Patner and the journalist David Carr. I don't think of them as necessarily similar in personality — each was far too singular to resemble anyone else — but they had in common a superhuman capacity for friendship, galvanizing the world around them, brightening every room they ever entered. As it happens, two books memorializing them came into my hands today: All That You Leave Behind, a memoir by David's daughter Erin Lee Carr; and A Portrait in Four Movements, a compendium of Andrew's writings on the Chicago Symphony, edited by Doug Shadle and John Schmidt. I was honored to write a foreword for the latter, in tribute to the man I called, on the day he died, "one of the wisest, wittiest, most generous, most avid, most altogether vital people in the world of the arts." Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη, זיכרונו לברכה.