Archive | Composer Spotlight

UnSung Creators

Unsung Creators – Part 1

Creativity – like human life – begins in darkness. – Julia Cameron Creating is hard. Scary. Exciting. It is a leap of faith. But… it is something creators must do. Because it is what they, as creators, were created to do. In Unsung Creators, Refinersfire will scour the inter-webs in search of new, exciting, challenging, […]

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Celebrating Richard Strauss for 150 Years

Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, Also sprach Zarathustra, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, and Elektra. I could write a short biography about Strauss but, it’s not where Strauss lived or what his favorite flavor of ice cream was that is important. What endures is his music, and that is what is important to celebrate on his birthday. From, 15 Facts […]

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Steve Reich – Big Ears Festival

Back in November I wrote a post regarding my excitement of the New York premiere of Steve Reich’s “Radio Rewrite.” Unable to make the 15-hour trek to NYC myself, I urged others to go so that I might live vicariously through them. Well, this past weekend in addition to experiencing “Radio Rewrite” first-hand, about 2000 of […]

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Underground Piano Duo

Hope. I have always been fascinated by hope. It is a peculiar thing. A defiant thing. Defying reality, it is the only thing that survives when “truth” sinks in to whisper that everything is lost. Defying reason, it is naturally common among children who haven’t yet forgotten how to fly. And defying logic, I am […]

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Richard Strauss

150 years of Richard Strauss

At Refiner’s Fire we celebrate great music that matters. This year marks the 150th birthday of the great German Romantic composer Richard Strauss’ (1864-1949) birthday. Strauss is perhaps best known for his vocal writing including his operas Der Rosenkavalier, Salome, and his lieder including his four last songs and some of my personal favorites “Zueignung”, […]

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francis poulenc

Francis Poulenc

My first stage death occurred portraying a nun in Francis Poulenc’s Dialague of the Carmelites. Death by guillotine. What a way to go. I remember singing that beautiful and haunting final Salve Regina as one by one the Carmelite nuns are guillotined. Francis Poulenc, the French composer and member of les six, was a composer […]

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Easter Morning (1979) by Norman Bluhm

The Artists Around You

I am always humbled by the talent that surrounds me. But it is those private souls who must create, or make, or bake simply for the love of their art (or perhaps because their art just plain won’t leave them alone – so they have no choice but to do it) – these are the […]

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Jerry Blackstone conducts Handel's Messiah

America’s Messiah

For musicians, Christmas means Messiah. This is not a comment upon musicians’ religiosity, but rather upon their finances. Messiah, Handel’s Messiah, is to America’s choral societies and orchestras what La Bohème is to its opera houses and Nutcracker to its ballets: the guaranteed full house that can bankroll a whole season of deficits. Between Thanksgiving […]

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Hector Berlioz for Beginners

In today’s composer spotlight we take a look at the brilliant French composer Hector Berlioz. I first encountered this magnificent composer in my dreaded youth orchestra days in high school. Ahhhh the youth orchestra . . . a place where my older sister and I were required to spend some quality time as commanded by […]

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Krzysztof Penderecki

Penderecki – a musical timeline

Happy 80th Birthday Krzysztof Penderecki! In celebration of Maestro Penderecki’s birthday, we have put together a chronological timeline of his musical output. Note: For copyright reasons the video has no audio, but we highly encourage you to create your own soundtrack. Though Penderecki is widely known for the shrieking tone clusters of “Threnody” – the likes […]

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