Joseph Kerman is emeritus professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley. He began writing music criticism for The Hudson Review in the 1950s, and is a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books and many other journals. His books include Opera as Drama (1956; new and revised edition 1988), The Beethoven Quartets (1967), Contemplating Music (1986), Concerto Conversations (1999), and The Art of Fugue (2005).


Playing in Time

A Concise History of Western Music

by Paul Griffiths
Oblivious of logjams looming in the future, Paul Griffiths begins A Concise History of Western Music in a leisurely, almost lyrical fashion. Music’s prehistory can be inferred not only by studying the remains of ancient flutes, but by listening to “the archaeology in our own bodies”; as our hearts beat …

Mozart’s Magic Marriage

It is hard to experience or even think about Mozart’s The Magic Flute without a sense of wonder at how much it differs from all his other operas, ranging from The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, the opera of choice today, to less frequently performed works …

The Voice of Masters

Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide

by Michael Steinberg
In his recent book Classical Music in America, Joseph Horowitz devotes several chapters to “Offstage Participants,” his name for people who work away from the footlights and make up the support system of musical life, as he sees it, rather than in the spots as singers, players, or conductors. One …

Mystery Man

The Life of Bach

by Peter Williams
A shilling life will give you all the facts, wrote Auden, and many have echoed him, including more than one writer in The New York Review, but when it comes to Johann Sebastian Bach what you get for twenty-two dollars in the Cambridge Musical Lives Series is a tissue of …

On Carlos Kleiber (1930–2004)

When Carlos Kleiber died this summer, at the age of seventy-four, the obituaries made it clear that the musical world had lost an extraordinary figure. What made him so extraordinary as a musician they did not say, and indeed one can hardly conceive of a pithy characterization of his distinction …

That Old Labyrinth Song

The Maze and the Warrior: Symbols in Architecture, Theology, and Music

by Craig Wright
Most musicologists are blinkered souls (or whatever the right word might be: ear-plugged, perhaps)—so it was no great surprise that I knew nothing about labyrinths before reading The Maze and the Warrior by—and this was the surprise—another musicologist, Craig Wright of Yale University. Since then I have been to San …

Beethoven the Unruly

Beethoven: The Music and the Life

by Lewis Lockwood
Lewis Lockwood is a leading musical scholar of the postwar generation, and the leading American authority on Beethoven. He has published influential articles on the composer, some collected previously in Beethoven: Studies in the Creative Process (1992), but no full-length study until now. He has chosen to make his first …

The Full Monte

L'incoronazione di Poppea

conducted by Christophe Rousset, directed by Pierre Audi

Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria

conducted by William Christie, directed by Adrian Noble
It was a brilliant idea, and must have required a managerial tour de force, for the Brooklyn Academy of Music to bring together the three surviving operas of Claudio Monteverdi in productions from Amsterdam, Aix-en-Provence, and Chicago, dating from 1993, 2000, and 2001 respectively. Attending all three in a row …