Classical Music News

For this week's show, Bob Boilen and I throw open the studio door to welcome a parade of guests from the NPR Music team, each sharing their favorite April releases. This includes Jake Witz, one of our fabulous Spring interns, who has some relatively restrained music from U.K. grime artist Mr. Mitch.

What will Bill Murray do next?

The beloved actor's curiosity seems boundless. It should be no surprise, then, to learn that his new project finds him paired with a classical cellist.

A 23-year-old, Russian-born violinist named Artem Kolesov is capturing international attention after posting a YouTube video in which he comes out as gay.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Chinese-born composer Du Yun has taken home this year's Pulitzer Prize for music for her opera Angel's Bone, it was announced today during a ceremony in New York.

It's a curious thing how ancient music can sometimes sound so contemporary. Listen to "Morgunstjarna," and it's as if three centuries' worth of music history evaporates. The anonymous song from 17th-century Iceland sports a catchy, bittersweet melody and rhythmic hook that pop outfits like Peter Bjorn and John might be happy to whistle.

Although it closed 60 years ago, Black Mountain College keeps on giving. In its heyday, the liberal arts institution near Asheville, N.C., counted many of the mid-century's great artistic thinkers, including John Cage, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Buckminster Fuller, Francine du Plessy Gray and Robert Rauschenberg, among its faculty and students.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


The great Beethoven specialist András Schiff says, "Whatever we do on the piano is a collection of illusions." If that's true, then Volker Bertelmann, the German pianist who goes by the single name Hauschka, is a master illusionist.

Piotr Anderszewski might be one of the most revered pianists of his generation, but he's also one of the most impulsive.

In 1990, at age 21, the young Pole entered the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition. He was nearly finished with his semi-final performance when he quit playing — just walked off the stage. He felt he wasn't good enough to continue. It was a gutsy move that actually helped launch his career.

There is metal between those strings. In a video for "Limonium," Brooklyn-based composer Kelly Moran interrupts the stretched piano wire with corkscrews, forking the paths of sound.

In music, a coda is a passage that brings a musical composition to an end. This is the coda to a musical saga — the story of the Stradivarius violin that was stolen 37 years ago from my late father, violinist Roman Totenberg, and recovered in 2015.

That violin, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1734, was my father's "musical partner" for 38 years as he toured the world.

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