Tchaikovsky and SF Ballet deliver an irresistible Swan Lake

I know some of you, my dear readers, are classical music fans but not ballet fans. Likewise, some among you are just as happy—maybe you even prefer—to see contemporary ballet works set to jazz, soul, even electronica. Then there are others among my readers who simply don’t attend live performances, be it the ballet or … Read more

The pure, true beauty of “O Holy Night”

  Confession: I stopped writing this essay on “O Holy Night,” soured by something I couldn’t name, bogged down by the online research. I set it aside, but the urge returned and I started it up again several days later. Then it happened again, an edgy, almost negative feeling as I read article after article … Read more

We love you, Michael Tilson Thomas

Last week I called the San Francisco Symphony box office to switch dates for a subscription ticket with a conflict: Sunday’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. There was Saturday night availability, but as life has been busy of late, I weighed the pros and cons of deferring to a … Read more

Exploring Grieg’s exquisite piano concerto

I love visualizing the 25-year-old Edvard Grieg in 1868, married just one year and already the father of a newborn daughter, right as his composing career was taking off. I can’t decide if it was artistic zeal or the exhaustion of jugging so many roles that made him seek retreat that summer at a secluded … Read more

The many musical moods of Edvard Grieg

Oh, the many moods and stories Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg conjures in my mind, my heart. There’s the transcendent “Morning Mood” from his Peer Gynt Suite, the haunting yet hopeful “Last Spring.” I’ve sat in my car and wept to the wintry longing in his “Nocturne.” There’s the “March of the Dwarves” that evokes a … Read more