Lloyd Schwartz

Lloyd Schwartz is the classical music critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

In addition to his role on Fresh Air, Schwartz is the classical music editor of The Boston Phoenix. He is the co-editor of the Library of the America's Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters. He is also the author of three volumes of poems: These People, Goodnight, Gracie and Cairo Traffic. He's the editor of the centennial edition of Elizabeth Bishop's Prose, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in 2011.

In 1994, Schwartz won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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11:55am

Wed July 16, 2014
Music

Every Composer Needs A Great Storyteller

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 9:39 am

The legendary German conductor Otto Klemperer was one of the most profound musicians of the 20th Century. In the 1960s, nearing the end of his career, he overcame many physical handicaps to create an astonishing body of recorded classical music. EMI has just reissued a broad spectrum of his recordings, including a box set of one of the composers he's most associated with: Gustav Mahler. Fresh Air classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz has a review of Mahler: Symphonies 2, 4, 7 & 9 / Das Lied von der Erde.

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1:19pm

Thu June 5, 2014
Theater

1936 'Show Boat': A Multiracial, Musical Melodrama, Now Out On DVD

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 7:32 am

Allan Jones plays debonair leading man Gaylord Ravenal and Irene Dunne is the enchanting Magnolia in the 1936 film version of Show Boat, which has just been released on DVD.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution

Broadway had never seen anything like it when Show Boat arrived at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 1927. The score was unforgettable and the story tackled complex racial issues. There have been three movie versions, but the best one — James Whale's 1936 production — has only just been released on DVD.

Show Boat was the first great serious Broadway musical. Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, who wrote the songs, and Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., who produced it, departed from typical musical comedy material, with its chorus lines and songs showcasing star performers.

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12:18pm

Thu May 29, 2014
Fine Art

'Degenerate' Exhibit Recalls Nazi War On Modern Art

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 12:28 pm

The Neue Galerie exhibit's empty frames represent paintings that were lost or destroyed by the Nazis. They appear beside works that survived Nazi rule, like George Grosz's Portrait of the Writer Max Hermann-Neisse (lower right).
Courtesy of Hulya Kolabas for Neue Galerie New York

One of the most unsettling rooms in an important art exhibit at New York's Neue Galerie is a room in which numerous empty frames are hanging, with guesses about which paintings might have been in them. The paintings themselves were all lost or destroyed by the Nazis. Encouraged by Hitler, most Nazis (Joseph Goebbels was the rare exception) considered everything but the most hidebound, traditionally realistic paintings and sculptures to be "degenerate," a threat to the Aryan ideals of German culture.

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10:56am

Wed March 12, 2014
Books

A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 12:59 pm

Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz is also a poet. He recently published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org. It's titled "To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death:"

In today's paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

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11:38am

Mon December 9, 2013
Music

Review: Jonas Kaufmann Sings Wagner And Verdi

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 2:28 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. At 44, the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann may be the most popular tenor of his generation and one of the most versatile. Music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews two of his recordings this year, dedicated to both Verdi and Wagner, celebrating the bicentennials of their birth.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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12:56pm

Thu December 5, 2013
Fine Art

'Pearl Earring' Is The Crown Jewel Of The Frick's Dutch Exhibit

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 5:48 pm

Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of 15 17th century Dutch paintings on view at New York's Frick Collection through early 2014.
AFP Getty Images

Some years ago, I wrote a poem called "Why I Love Vermeer," which ends "I've never lived in a city without a Vermeer." I could say that until 1990, when Vermeer's exquisite painting The Concert was one of the masterpieces stolen from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It's still missing.

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9:16am

Tue November 26, 2013
Music Reviews

After Ailing, A Favorite Conductor Stages His Comeback

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 2:15 pm

Conductor James Levine in rehearsal with Russian virtuoso Evgeny Kissin.
Cory Weaver Courtesy of the artist

An extended ovation greeted conductor James Levine last May when he returned to performing after a two-year absence. In 2011, he resigned as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and cancelled his performances at the Metropolitan Opera. He'd been plagued by health problems, injuries and operations, and it was painful for him to move. Many of his admirers, even he himself, feared he might never conduct again.

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11:43am

Fri October 4, 2013
Music Reviews

This Opera Will Eat Your Heart Out

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 9:05 am

Barbara Hannigan and Bejun Mehta in the Festival at Aix production of Written on Skin.
Pascal Victor ArtComArt

11:50am

Thu August 15, 2013
Music Reviews

A Forgotten Quartet, Reissued And Reevaluated

A new collection of Brahms and Mozart recordings by the Stuyvesant Quartet from 1947 conveys a kind of inward grace.
Jay Shulman Courtesy of the artist

A movie last year called A Late Quartet told the traumatic story of what happens when a famous string quartet has to change personnel. But, in fact, most string quartets — like symphony orchestras, only more conspicuously — continually change players, because players retire, or die, or get more lucrative offers.

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2:00pm

Mon July 1, 2013
Movie Reviews

Branagh Imagines Mozart's 'Magic Flute' In Wartime

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 2:41 pm

Pamina (Amy Carson) and Tamino (Joseph Kaiser) in Kenneth Branagh's production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
Revolver Group

Mozart's The Magic Flute, the last opera he lived to complete, has some of his most sublime and sublimely comic music. Technically, it's more of a musical comedy, what in German is called a Singspiel, a play with songs and spoken dialogue. I was excited to learn that it was filmed by Kenneth Branagh, whose Shakespeare movies I really admire. Mozart's mixture of fairy tale and high morality presents a great opportunity for a filmmaker; in 1975, Ingmar Bergman released a version for Swedish television that has become a beloved classic.

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10:40am

Wed June 19, 2013
Fine Art

The Art Of Life: Claes Oldenburg At MOMA

Originally published on Wed June 19, 2013 2:05 pm

Oldenburg's fascination with simple, everyday objects often led him to food as a subject, as with Pastry Case, I, 1961-62.
Claes Oldenburg Museum of Modern Art

The sculptor Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm but grew up in Chicago, went to Yale and came to New York in 1956, where he became a key player in the pop art movement — the major counter-reaction to the abstract expressionism that dominated the 1950s. So much for art history.

Although Oldenburg is a serious artist, probably no artist in history ever created works that were more fun. In a new show at the Museum of Modern Art — really two shows — practically everyone, including myself, was walking through the galleries with a huge grin.

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11:53am

Mon March 4, 2013
Movie Reviews

Cinerama Brought The Power Of Peripheral Vision To The Movies

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 12:51 pm

A film still of New York City from 1952's This Is Cinerama. The film was meant to introduce audiences to the new Cinerama widescreen.
Flicker Alley LLC

As early as silent film, directors attempted to create widescreen images. But in the 1950s it became a commercial necessity to give the multitude of new TV watchers what they couldn't get on a small screen. So even before CinemaScope, VistaVision, Todd-AO and Panavision, there was Cinerama — a process in which three projectors threw three simultaneous images onto a gigantic curved screen. Cinerama offered what no TV or movie screen could provide before — peripheral vision, which could make you feel as if you were really in the midst of the action.

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11:23am

Mon January 7, 2013
Movie Reviews

Mozart's Starring Role In 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 11:35 am

John Schlesinger's 1971 film Sunday Bloody Sunday has just been released on Blu-ray. The film's complex love triangle starred Peter Finch, Murray Head and Glenda Jackson.
The Kobal Collection

Sunday Bloody Sunday is one of those films that lets you into the lives of believable, complicated characters. A handsome, self-centered young artist played by the actor/rock singer Murray Head is having simultaneous affairs with both an older woman (played with infinitely nuanced self-irony by Glenda Jackson) and an older man, a Jewish doctor (the touching Peter Finch), two intelligent adults who have mutual friends and even know each other slightly.

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11:52am

Tue November 27, 2012
Music Reviews

Cecilia Bartoli's New 'Mission' Unearths Baroque Gems

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 1:17 pm

On her new album, opera star Cecilia Bartoli tackles the work of Baroque composer Agostino Steffani.
Uli Weber Decca

I never heard of the Baroque composer Agostino Steffani until last year, when the Boston Early Music Festival presented the North American premiere of Steffani's Niobe, an opera about the mythical queen who bragged so much about her many children, the gods killed them all in revenge. One of the leading roles, Niobe's husband King Amphion, was played by the early-music superstar countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sang the opera's most sublime aria — a hymn to the harmony of the spheres. I couldn't wait to hear Jaroussky again, and was eager to hear more Steffani.

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11:54am

Fri November 23, 2012
Movies

What Happened To 'Baby Jane'? She's Turning 50

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:33 pm

Bette Davis in the role of Jane Hudson in What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The classic horror film, which has just turned 50, is being released on Blu-ray
AP

Baby Jane Hudson is now 50 years old — or at least the strange and brilliant movie in which she's the main character is, just released as a beautifully remastered Blu-ray. Robert Aldrich's grotesque gothic tragedy is a cross between Gypsy, with its antithetical show-biz kid sisters, and Sunset Boulevard, with its decayed Hollywood glamour.

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12:38pm

Wed November 7, 2012
Music News

Always A Rose: Elliott Carter Remembered

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 4:02 pm

Elliott Carter at Tanglewood in 2008 on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz is sitting right behind Carter.
Michael J. Lutch

2:22pm

Tue October 16, 2012
News

Budapest Quartet Gets To The Heart Of Beethoven

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 10:42 am

The Budapest String Quartet in 1919.
Wikimedia Commons

The Budapest String Quartet has always been my standard-bearer for chamber music. I grew up listening to their recordings, and especially admired not only their gorgeous sound, but also the uncanny interaction among all four players, even when there were changes in personnel. They had a way of playing as if they were speaking to each other, expressing deep and sometimes complicated feelings.

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9:47am

Thu August 9, 2012
Movies

60 Years Later, Still 'Singin' In The Rain'

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 12:37 pm

Gene Kelly stars as Don Lockwood in Singin' in the Rain. In celebration of the 1952 musical's 60th birthday, a newly restored print was released in theaters for a one-night public screening, and a new edition has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Warner Home Video

Hollywood is often at its best when it's making fun of itself, and few movies are funnier or more fun than Singin' in the Rain, the broadly satirical musical comedy about the transition from silent movies to sound.

Gene Kelly, who co-directed the film with Stanley Donen, stars as the stuntman turned matinee idol who falls in love with adorable Debbie Reynolds. He even gets to parody his own swashbuckling in MGM's Technicolor Three Musketeers.

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10:56am

Fri July 13, 2012
Music Reviews

Tanglewood Celebrates 75th With Free Web Stream

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 8:53 am

The scene at Tanglewood.
courtesy of Tanglewood

On July 20, 1958, at Tanglewood — the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra — pianist Leon Fleisher played an electrifying Brahms First Piano Concerto with the orchestra under its former music director, Pierre Monteux. This remarkable teaming has not been heard since then.

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10:08am

Tue July 10, 2012
Music Reviews

'St. Matthew Passion': A Monumental Bach Feast

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 10:25 am

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the St. Matthew Passion in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra.
Getty Digital

Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.

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