Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music

Sixty-five years ago this year an event occcured which changed the course of American music.  A unassuming man, unknown, with no professional expertise other than his devotion to old 78s of American vernacular music, released to the public the Anthology of American Folk Music. “Had he never done anything with his life but this Anthology, … Continue reading Harry Smith and the Anthology of American Folk Music

Rayna Gellert : From Violin to Fiddle

Rayna Gellert is an American violinist and singer specializing in old-time music. She grew up in Elkhart, in northern Indiana. Her father is the traditional fiddler and banjo player Dan Gellert. Originally a classically trained violinist, she took up the old-time fiddle in 1994, when she moved to North Carolina to attend Warren Wilson College. … Continue reading Rayna Gellert : From Violin to Fiddle

Gesualdo da Venosa : the music, not the life

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a short overview of Carlo Gesualdo on the occasion of his 450th birthday, March 8, 1566. I have to admit that I am not entirely pleased with that short article since it played into the recurring stereotype of Gesualdo as an unhinged murdering count. While it is true … Continue reading Gesualdo da Venosa : the music, not the life

Les Escholiers de Paris : Motets, Songs & Estampies of the Thirteenth Century

Ensemble Gilles Binchois, Dominique Vellard Anne-Marie Lablaude, Brigitte Lesne, Susanne Norin, Emmanuel Bonnardot, Willem de Waal, Pierre Hamon, Randall Cook In fact, with the royal family's increasingly frequent visits to Paris and the development of the university, Paris became the focus of a vital flowering that attracted the greatest artists, musicians, scholars, and theologians to Europe's leading cultural center. From all … Continue reading Les Escholiers de Paris : Motets, Songs & Estampies of the Thirteenth Century

Let Us Now Praise Great Bluesmen : Blind Willie Johnson, who died today, 1947, in Beaumont, Texas

Allmusic.com Biography by Joslyn Layne Seminal gospel-blues artist Blind Willie Johnson is regarded as one of the greatest bottleneck slide guitarists. Yet the Texas street-corner evangelist is known as much for his powerful and fervent gruff voice as he is for his ability as a guitarist. He most often sang in a rough, bass voice … Continue reading Let Us Now Praise Great Bluesmen : Blind Willie Johnson, who died today, 1947, in Beaumont, Texas

The String Quartets of Krzysztof Meyer : a major achievement of the second half of the 20th century

Krzysztof Meyer (born 11 August 1943) is a Polish composer, pianist and music scholar, formerly Dean of the Department of Music Theory (1972–1975) at the State College of Music (now Academy of Music in Kraków), and president of the Union of Polish Composers (1985–1989). Meyer served as professor of composition at the Hochschule für Musik … Continue reading The String Quartets of Krzysztof Meyer : a major achievement of the second half of the 20th century

Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)

What did it mean for Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474), chameleon-like expert in every musical genre of his day, to compose four settings of the Mass Ordinary toward the end of his life? Looking back from the vantage point of the next generation, when the polyphonic mass reigned supreme, it might be tempting to interpret … Continue reading Guillaume Du Fay: The Tenor Masses (Les messes à teneur)