Ravel, Chausson, Falla, Sarasate


This weekend (November 24–26), guest conductor Jun Märkl leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in works by Ravel, Chausson, Sarasate, and Falla. My program notes are here:


If you can’t make it to Powell Hall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, tune in to the live stream on St. Louis Public radio at 8:00 pm CST:




Berlioz, Khachaturian, Walton

Aram Khachaturian

This weekend, the St. Louis Symphony performs works by Hector Berlioz, Aram Khachaturian (pictured), and William Walton. If you can’t make it to Powell Hall this weekend, be sure to tune in to St. Louis Public Radio for the broadcast or live stream, which begins at 8:00 CST.

My program notes can be found here:


The Flying Dutchman


On May 4 and 6 (Thursday and Saturday) the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chorus perform Richard Wagner’s opera Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) in its entirety. I’m very much looking forward to attending the Thursday evening performance with my mom, and I’ll be sure to tune in to the live broadcast on St. Louis Public Radio on Saturday night as well.

My notes begin on p. 25. Yes, I realize that I left a great many things out, but that’s what happens when you attempt to stick to your word count (and fail, but only mildly). I guess no one will miss my wanton gothisms.


Nietzsche, Strauss, Dylan

Among other things, Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra is the 19th-century version of  “Subterranean Homesick Blues”:

“Verily,” says Zarathustra to his flock, “I counsel you: go away from me and resist Zarathustra!…. Perhaps he deceived you. The man of knowledge must not only love his enemies but also be able to hate his friends…. You are my believers—but what matter all believers… All faith amounts to so little. Now I bid you to lose me and find yourselves.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

(From Digressions I Must Omit from my Program Notes, a work in progress)

Lutoslawski, Mozart, and Brahms


I wrote about Witold Lutoslawski (pictured at his piano), specifically his Concerto for Orchestra, as well as Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, Mozart’s final work in that form, and Brahms’s Fourth (and final) Symphony. A slightly altered version of these program notes accompanied a recent Dallas Symphony concert.



All-Mozart, SLSO


I wrote about an All-Mozart program for the St. Louis Symphony concerts of October 7 and 8, with special guest violinist Jennifer Koh, who performs Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Also on the program: Symphony No. 31 (“Paris”) and Serenade No. 9 (“Posthorn). My notes begin on p. 26. (Please excuse the typo in the penultimate line on p. 29; I would fix it if I could.)


Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3


Beethoven bust in Tower Grove Park. Photographed by me.

I wrote about Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (along with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte overture and Benjamin’s Viola, Viola) for the St. Louis Symphony concerts of September 24 and 25, with special guest Yefim Bronfman. (My notes begin on p. 31.)


I had far more material than I was able to publish, given the word constraints, so I’m also including some supplementary content in the form of a PDF, which I hope turns out OK. If it does, I will probably start posting my notes for Dallas Symphony, which aren’t archived on the symphony website for some reason.


Vaughan Williams, Berg, Holst


On May 6 and May 7, the St. Louis Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chorus performed Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Flos Campi, Alban Berg’s Altenberg Lieder (with special guest soprano Christine Brewer), and Gustav Holst’s The Planets. That’s Holst in the photo. I feel tenderly disposed toward him because I am also extremely myopic.

My notes begin on p. 26:




I had the good fortune of interviewing Shannon Wood, St. Louis Symphony Principal Timpani, for Playbill. We met in his percussion studio/rehearsal space, across the street from Powell Hall. We talked about Kraft’s Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, No. 2, his mallet business sideline, and lots of other fascinating stuff.

You can read it here if you like:


Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette



Way back in mid-March, the St. Louis Symphony performed Hector Berlioz’s magnificent and underperformed dramatic symphony Roméo et Juliette. I wrote about it here (my annotations begin on p. 26).

The painting, by the way, is by the English pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse, from 1898. It’s not as old as Berlioz’s musical work, but I think it captures the spirit.