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Surprisingly good news for all those who still harbor hopes of major orchestras as dynamic, living institutions: the New York Philharmonic has just announced that Alan Gilbert will be its new music director, beginning 2009.

Alex Ross has more.

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Place your bets!

And the winner is:

Awarded to “Sound Grammar” by Ornette Coleman, recording released September 12, 2006.

Other finalists:

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Grendel” by Elliot Goldenthal, premiered June 8, 2006 by the Los Angeles Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, libretto by Julie Taymor and J.D. McClatchy, and “Astral Canticle” by Augusta Read Thomas, premiered June 1, 2006 by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (G. Schirmer, Inc.).


A posthumous special citation to composer John Coltrane for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz.

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The Russian composer Galina Ustvoskaya died yesterday. Alex Ross has the details and the (appropriately) terse, German notice from her publisher, Sikorski.

I don’t have time now to write much about Ustvolskaya’s music, but my encounter with it was one of the determining events of my own musical evolution, and I still can’t quite believe that I performed all six of her piano sonatas spaced out during an all-night new music marathon concert as an undergraduate. (By the time I got to the last of them, round about 4 AM, I was pretty spaced out myself.)

If you don’t have this disc, correct that about yourself. This is the music Shostakovich could have written but didn’t.

Update: WordPress is eating my links for breakfast. Go over to for more details, and the CD you are to buy is Frank Denyer’s recording of the complete piano sonatas on Conifer.(I haven’t heard Oleg Malov’s on Megadisc, a label that has also released several other discs of Ustvolskaya’s hieratic chamber music.)

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It’s that time of the year again, folks, when composers around the world turn their attention to Los Angeles, with bated breath, waiting to hear who is, in fact, the greatest composer in America and the world this year. Who has advanced the art, who has raised the human spirit, who has earned his (yes, pretty much always, it’s his) place in musical history.

That’s right, it’s Grammy time.

And the nominees for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition” [sic] are:

Boston Concerto
Elliott Carter
(Oliver Knussen)
Track from: The Music Of Elliott Carter, Vol. Seven
[Bridge Records, Inc.]

Golijov: Ainadamar: Fountain Of Tears
Osvaldo Golijov
(Robert Spano)
[Deutsche Grammophon]

The Here And Now
Christopher Theofanidis
(Robert Spano)
Track from: Del Tredici: Paul Revere’s Ride; Theofanidis: The Here And Now; Bernstein: Lamentation

Paul Revere’s Ride
David Del Tredici
(Robert Spano)
Track from: Del Tredici: Paul Revere’s Ride; Theofanidis: The Here And Now; Bernstein: Lamentation

A Scotch Bestiary
James MacMillan
(James MacMillan)
Track from: MacMillan: A Scotch Bestiary, Piano Concerto No. 2

Place your bets.

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