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Stories by Garrett Harris

Mozart or Paxil?

No one likes ugly-man-sob face

I feel that it is appropriate every now and then to get a tad personal in my writing here. Today I look to Mozart once again. We just discussed the mammoth release of recordings for ...

Mozart 225

It's like a musicology degree in a box

Next year will be the 225th anniversary of Mozart’s death. To celebrate/capitalize there is a new complete edition of Mozart’s music being released in the form of a 200 disc box set. It’s called W. ...

Puccini, Verdi, drinking, and the suggestion of sex

How to pick up cougars 19th-century style

Let’s connect some dots between Verdi and Puccini and Puccini and himself. This will only take a moment. The scene, which is an “other than arias” gem, is from Act II of Puccini’s La Rondine. ...

Juicy little conspiracy theory

The alignment of the recession and the advent of the iPhone

Junk: The Golden Age of Debt is currently running at the La Jolla Playhouse. The play is set in the financial situation of the mid 1980s. This is the period of Wall Street, Boiler Room, ...

John Blackwood McEwen: Outlaw or composer?

The esoteric pick of the week is back

John Blackwood McEwen was a Scottish drifter who killed nine men in gunfights between 1889 and 1895. He was the scourge of the New Mexico territory and finally had his neck stretched in 1899. He ...

The Don(ald) Giovanni

Don Giovanni abuser of power at Opera Neo

It’s been an operatic week in mid-August. There was Opera Wednesday, then on Thursday I went to The Elixir of Love at Point Loma Opera Theatre, and on Saturday night I caught Don Giovanni presented ...

Pt. Loma Opera performed The Elixir of Love

...and the puppies went on a romp through Donizetti’s comedic gem

The Elixir of Love by Donizetti is a bel canto opera, except when it’s not. Sometimes it’s not bel canto and it’s just opera. The most present understanding of bel canto is based on the ...

A return to Opera Wednesday

Old musical friends and new discoveries in La Jolla

I haven’t been to an Opera Wednesday in quite some time, so I went on over to the La Jolla Community Center on Wednesday night and listened to four solid singers sing three pieces each. ...

Personality and musical preference

A look at something other than arias

We’ve never discussed personality type and musical preference have we? This might sound far-fetched or woo-woo in nature but I think there is something going on here. If we consider basic personality traits we can ...

Saint-Saëns and Henry VIII

Henry is long, beautiful, yet ineffective

I was browsing the performance history of the San Diego Opera when I saw Henry VIII by Camille Saint-Saëns. This was not the only rarity in the company history but I’m a fan of Saint-Saëns ...

Ernest Bloch and the Sacred Service

An esoteric pick of the week from the Swiss-American composer

Ernest Bloch is best known for his composition Schelomo for cello and large orchestra but he wrote a ton of music for “large orchestra.” We take an esoteric look at his Avodath Hakodesh: Sacred Service ...

To die for every note

Koussevitzky has always been a shade in the background of my personal musical exploration.

Hershey Felder plays Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a one-man show about music and love told through the life events of the composer/conductor. I had heard of Mr. Felder’s one-man shows based on Beethoven, Gershwin, Chopin, ...

Nadia Boulanger: The great woman

Nadia Boulanger exerted a lasting influence upon classical music

The next entry in our women in music thread is Nadia Boulanger. Boulanger was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century but her main contribution was as a teacher as opposed to ...

La Jolla SummerFest 2016

The La Jolla Music Society's summer chamber romp

It's August, which means the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest is starting. Each summer, the month of August is crammed with performances at the Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla. With construction of “The Conrad” coming ...

A few more moments of classical music in movies

Vain to deny that these are great scenes...

As promised, here are a few more moments of classical music in movies. For this group I’ve selected a personal axe to grind and a few well-known scenes. Let’s start with my axe. At the ...

Five classical music clips in the movies

Some lesser known classical music appearances in the movies

With the massive celebration of pop culture over (Comic Con), I’ve been inspired to take a look at the best use of classical music in movies. This is not about original motion picture scores but ...

The Legend of Zelda at the San Diego Symphony

Symphonic video game music at Symphony Hall

I will admit that I missed the phenomenon that is The Legend of Zelda. The reason I missed it is clear. I’ve never had a Nintendo. In spite of my non-participation in the Nintendo world, ...

Female composer Clara Schumann let her opinions be known

"I despise Liszt to the very depths of my soul."

The next woman in our line of female composers is Clara Schumann. She might be the most famous of the early women pioneers in classical music. Nannerl Mozart was not allowed to play in public ...

The other Butterfly

Mascagni's tale of a Japanese girl destroyed by circumstances

Before Madama Butterfly there was Iris, the tale of a young and exploited Japanese girl. The opera was written by Pietro Mascagni, the king of verismo. Mascagni is the composer of the quintessential verismo masterpiece ...

Final Symphony at San Diego Symphony

Comic-Con's collaboration with the San Diego Symphony continues

I feel like an idiot saying this, but Comic-Con is coming. If you didn’t know that then, in reality, you’re the idiot — or maybe just new to San Diego. Comic-Con has had a running ...

The Proms are for the people

The BBC Proms are the most extensive classical music festival on the planet

If the Bayreuth Festival is for the elite or at least the very dedicated then the BBC Proms in London is the summer festival for the literal masses. The Royal Albert Hall seats 5544 and ...

A brief history of the Bayreuth Festival

Bayreuth opens on July 12

We took a brief look at the Bayreuth Festival when conductor Andris Nelsons bowed out of the opening night. Almost 60,000 people shuffle through Bayreuth every summer paying homage. However, as big a number as ...

Free stream of Meistersinger

Glyndebourne is offering a seven day window to view Wagner's magnum comedia

Starting on Tuesday, July 12, at 5:30 p.m. (Glyndebourne time) Wagner’s Die Meistersinger will be available to stream online at the Glyndebourne Opera site and at the Telegraph site. This is one of three productions ...

CDs are still around and they sound better than YouTube or Spotify

Classical music releases of note coming out July 8

Orchestral ReleasesJohn Corigliano is an American composer who should be more famous than he is. His most notable compositions are the opera The Ghost of Versailles, commissioned for the Metropolitan Opera’s 100-year anniversary, and the ...

New biopic project for Cate Blanchett

Ethel Smyth is the greatest woman you've never heard of

I had promised to feature some women composers here, and this summer lull provides an excellent opportunity. Once August comes around the La Jolla Music Society cranks up the Summerfest and then September is upon ...

Happy Ives of July

Charles Ives gives an alternative yet accurate 4th of July

I want to write about an American composer for the Fourth of July, but I’m tired of the same ol’ group of characters — Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin, Barber. Let’s go with Charles Ives and the ...

Time to check the Met

As the Metropolitan goes, so goes opera

Each summer it feels as though we need to check in with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. I’m not sure it’s an accurate barometer but there is a general feeling that as the Met ...

Bayreuth being Bayreuth

Wagner's homage to Wagner continues its tradition of drama

There is no lack of drama behind the scenes at the world’s most exclusive and prestigious music festival. Conducting super-star Adris Nelsons has canceled his appearance at this year’s Bayreuth Festival in Germany. Nelsons was ...

Feminine but not feminist

We will never know if we could have had two Mozarts

Written and performed by Sylvia Milo, The Other Mozart moves chronologically through the life of Maria Anna Mozart. Nannerl and her musical abilities were oppressed by a society in which some people thought uterine bleeding ...

San Diego Opera Maestro remembered

Edoardo Müller was willing to send a message in opera

Years and years ago, a famous opera singer was singing a famous aria from a famous opera during an orchestral dress rehearsal. When the aria ended the music continued but that appeared to be an ...

Macbeth and Verdi

The Scottish play in operatic form

Macbeth is opening at The Old Globe this weekend and it has me thinking about musical settings of Shakespeare. Besides Goethe, Shakespeare is the most influential author in classical music. Perhaps Shakespeare supersedes Goethe’s influence. ...

A ban on all music for the glory of Islam?

Fundamental threat to music

As a musical apologist — and I am certainly more of an apologist than a critic — I often have ideas about how to get great music into the ears of more people. Once it’s ...

Myaskovsky and the return of esotericism

It's summer and the esoteric pick of the week is back

As much as I think I know about classical music I continue to be humbled by how much I don’t know. As we turn toward summer, the esoteric pick of the week is back on ...

Stop being silly Mainly Mozart

A literal silly symphony begins the conclusion of Mainly Mozart

The Mainly Mozart Festival concluded on Saturday night with a program of music which was both brilliant and, shall we say, curious? The Toy Symphony by Leopold Mozart was the first piece on the program. ...

Halfbaked fish

tokyo fish story at Old Globe

The Old Globe’s tokyo fish story features plenty of big themes from generational disconnection to familial nihilism to art versus commercialism to gender discrimination. The other theme is titling one’s play in all lowercase letters. ...

Splinters of Saint-Saëns at Mainly Mozart

Saint-Saëns is great while the Master Chorale does what it does

In general, I’m not a happy clappy person. I’ll applaud a great performance, for sure, but I tend to be more polite with my appreciation instead of exuberant. It’s a personal flaw, but I’m working ...

The invisible maestro at Mainly Mozart

Where was the conductor for this stellar concert?

The last time I spoke with Mainly Mozart music director Michael Francis, he mentioned a book entitled The Ignorant Maestro by Itay Talgam. I looked it up and realized the author had made one of ...

The other Mendelssohn

Older sisters inspire the brothers

The Other Mozart is a play for the stage based on the lIfe of Mozart’s sister Nannerl. The production is here for one night only on Sunday, June 12, 7:30 p.m., at the Balboa Theatre. ...

America's got ruined child voices

Another youngster sings opera in an inappropriate way

Here we go again with the surprise “opera” singer on a talent show. America’s Got Talent just revealed Laura Bretan as the latest Jackie Evancho or Paul Potts or whats-her-name, the Scottish woman who sang ...

Mozart and Beethoven: The adolescents

Early pieces of music by titans is good stuff

Have you ever wished you could meet someone before they became the person you know and love? Maybe wish you could meet one of your parents when they were an adolescent or perhaps experience your ...

San Diego Symphony season retrospective

A look at a few great moments from the 2015-'16 season

The Masterworks Season for the San Diego Symphony has concluded, so let’s take a brief look at the high-water marks. While the Mahler Symphony No. 6 concert had some technical issues this was more than ...

Mainly Mozart Festival: Defender of the Universe

Mozart festival opens this weekend at Balboa Theatre

Tis the Mainly Mozart season. For two weeks the glory of the Mozart shall shine upon us as the Voltron of orchestras assembles. You don’t know Voltron: Defender of the Universe? There was Lion Force ...

The most important music in the world

An exploration of the most influential music in our culture

There is a type of music that is crucial to almost every element of our culture. The old, the young, the rich, the poor, the enlightened, the depressed, the sick, and the healthy all respond ...

Leonard Bernstein — composer, conductor, performer, educator

A new documentary on Bernstein comes out this week

I mentioned that Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalm is being performed this weekend at San Diego Symphony. That just so happens to coincide with a new documentary about Lenny. Leonard Bernstein: Larger than Life is being ...

Season Finale at San Diego Symphony

All Americans close this year's season

The Jacobs Masterworks Series comes to its conclusion this weekend at Symphony Hall. Music by the all-star American lineup is on the program. Samuel Barber, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein will all be ...

Dog days of the season at San Diego Symphony

The sublime was replaced by a rare pedestrian-ism...

A famous conductor once said, “A great orchestra is like an English lawn. It must be clipped and watered twice a day — and for a hundred years.” The San Diego Symphony has been clipped ...

Verdi for the ages

Singora Fausta Truffa sings Verdi

This little video of a woman singing Verdi is going viral. Viral for an opera video that is. Fausta Truffa, the soprano in this gem, does not yield many search results. I thought that perhaps ...

Great Scott delivers at San Diego Opera

Even when it was parodying different styles of opera, the music in Great Scott was heartfelt and true

People, myself included, are scared of modern opera. Modern opera tends to be an unhappy experience. It is bereft of humor and beauty. There's even a Facebook Group against modern opera. Jake Heggie’s Great Scott, ...

Bolero is free at last

Ravel's music exploited no longer

Ravel’s Bolero is now free. The copyright has expired and organizations no longer need to pay royalties to a network of corrupt people who aren’t related to Ravel or his family. This is where copyright ...

The grotesque should be present

Constellations is where Groundhog Day meets 50 First Dates meets Sliding Doors meets Edge of Tomorrow meets What the Bleep do We Know

I overheard a few conversations after the show. Constellations at the Old Globe confused some people. It should be stated that some people are persistently confused. The show, by its own admission, is a personification ...

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