By the time Richard Strauss died, many musicians and critics considered him an embarrassing fossil. Born while Berlioz and Rossini still lived—and a dozen years before Johannes Brahms had written any of his own symphonies—Strauss composed steadily for some sixty-five years and died a few months after the premieres of Elliott Carter’s Cello Sonata and John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. But the path he took long overshadowed a clear assessment of his enormous accomplishments as a composer of opera and orchestral music.
“Countless freeloaders, lost teenagers, parents of lost teenagers, and disappointed artists have found consolation in Vincent van Gogh’s misfortune,” writes Michael Kimmelman in the Review’s February 5, 2015 issue. “His story is the ultimate ‘I told you so’: a troubled, not obviously talented oddball, who through determination and sheer chutzpah is finally, albeit mostly posthumously, recognized as a genius.” Here we present a series of van Gogh’s sketches and paintings, with commentary drawn from Kimmelman’s piece.
Maria Callas converted me to opera. I am sure I am not unique in this, except in the particulars. In my early college years I immersed myself in recordings of the nineteenth-century symphonic repertory—Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, the Russians—but for a long time I refused to listen to opera, would listen to an overture and then rush to change the record before the singing started. Then one day my roommate put Callas’s 1953 Tosca on the turntable and dropped the needle onto “Vissi d’arte.”
“There are two ways, perhaps, of looking at Francisco Goya,” writes Colm Tóibín in the Review’s December 18, 2014 issue. In the first version, Goya, who was born near Zaragoza in 1746 and died in exile in France in 1828, “was almost innocent, a serious and ambitious artist interested in mortality and beauty, but also playful and mischievous, until politics and history darkened his imagination…. In the second version, it is as though a war was going on within Goya’s psyche from the very start…. His imagination was ripe for horror.” Here we present a series of prints and paintings from the show under review—the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s “Goya: Order and Disorder,” now closed—along with commentary on the images drawn from Tóibín’s piece.
I entered Harvard in the fall of 1947. Within a year I started to know members of the physics department. By the time I left Cambridge ten years later I knew them all. A number of them had been at Los Alamos during the war and had essential parts in building the bomb. But none of them ever said anything about it, at least not to me.