Arts

Deceptive Cadence
1:23 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Get Out And Hear Music: Classical Summer Festivals 2012

Music and food mix well on the lawn of the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago. This year's edition runs through Sept. 9.
Ravinia Festival

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:17 pm

With the July Fourth holiday behind us, now is the time to map out a musical adventure. Below is a sampling of just a few of the dozens of summer classical music festivals around the country, grouped by region. From outdoor extravaganzas and picturesque locales to intimate indoor settings, live music thrives in the summertime. Been to a good summer fest not listed here? Tell us all about it.

EAST

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Music Interviews
12:03 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Fresh Air Celebrates Woody Guthrie At 100

Woody Guthrie
Smithsonian Folkways

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 12:52 pm

Lots of people know Woody Guthrie's classic 1940 ballad "This Land Is Your Land," but the story behind the tune may not be as familiar.

Guthrie, who would have turned 100 this week, wrote "This Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," a song he felt was overly patriotic and not directed at ordinary Americans like himself.

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Book Reviews
7:04 am
Thu July 12, 2012

How He Became A Bat: Once More, With Feeling

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 4:26 pm

Seventy-three years after he first appeared, Batman is beginning again. That is to say, yet again. Still. Some more.

Back in 1939, readers of the very first Batman adventure in Detective Comics No. 27 weren't privy to his origin. For that, they had to wait six months for Detective No. 33 and the two-page, 12-panel story, "The Legend of the Batman — Who He Is And How He Came To Be!"

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Book Reviews
4:32 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

Review: 'Evel Knievel Days'

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 5:33 pm

In Pauls Toutonghi's novel, the main character travels from Butte, Mont., to Cairo, hoping to connect with his Egyptian father.

Deceptive Cadence
12:25 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

How Is 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Selling Classical Music?

The book behind the unlikely re-emergence of Thomas Tallis' 'Spem in alium.'
courtesy of Vintage/Anchor Books

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:22 pm

File this under Strange Bedfellows. The crazy-huge success of E L James' Fifty Shades erotic trilogy — which as of late May stood at more than 10 million sales in all formats and 60 physical printings, according to publisher Vintage Books — has made quite the impact in ... classical music, of all things.

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Book Reviews
12:23 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

'A Door In The Ocean' Leads To Dark Depths

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 2:23 pm

Many of the key scenes in David McGlynn's striking new memoir, A Door in the Ocean, take place at the beach or in swimming pools. McGlynn was a surfer and competitive swimmer in his school days and still squeezes into his Speedos for races like the annual 5K "Gatorman" off the coast of La Jolla, Calif. Ocean swimming, in particular, transports McGlynn to another realm, and he does a terrific job of dramatizing the allure of solitary swims in open water. Midway through his book, he writes:

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Wed July 11, 2012

One Last Werewolf On The Prowl In 'Talulla Rising'

Glen Duncan is the author of several other novels, including The Last Werewolf, to which Talulla Rising is a sequel.
Courtesy of Knopf

Besides the glittery, brooding vampires (and its author's inability to, in Stephen King's withering opinion, "write worth a darn"), Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series is notable for its protagonist's lack of innate survival skills. Bella Swan is perpetually shielded from harm by stronger male characters. True, these studs have the benefit of being vampires and werewolves, but were all those years of bra burning for nothing? Couldn't Bella at least, you know, have taken a jiu-jitsu class?

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NewsPoet: Writing The Day In Verse
5:25 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

NewsPoet: Paisley Rekdal Writes The Day In Verse

Paisley Rekdal visits NPR headquarters in Washington on Tuesday.
Ebony Bailey NPR

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 2:10 pm

Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we're calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day's stories.

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New In Paperback
3:07 pm
Tue July 10, 2012

New In Paperback July 9-15

Fiction and nonfiction releases from Colson Whitehead, Donald Ray Pollock, Ben Mezrich and Mark Hertsgaard.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Music Reviews
11:51 am
Tue July 10, 2012

'St. Matthew Passion': A Monumental Bach Feast

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote the St. Matthew Passion in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra.
Getty Digital

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 12:25 pm

Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.

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Field Recordings
7:36 am
Tue July 10, 2012

A 'Flash Choir' Sings Philip Glass In Times Square

Conductor Kent Tritle leads an impromptu choir in the world premiere of Philip Glass' "A New Rule" in New York's Times Square.
NPR

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 3:53 pm

To honor Philip Glass' 75th birthday this year, we here at NPR Music commissioned Glass to create a short work that would be great fun for amateur and professional singers alike. A big part of what we do is to try to make all kinds of music engaging and accessible — and wouldn't it be great to invite anyone who wanted to come and sing in a world premiere by one of the most celebrated composers of our time?

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Critics' Lists: Summer 2012
7:03 am
Tue July 10, 2012

What's The Big Idea? 5 Books To Inspire Innovation

Harriet Russell

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 1:33 pm

The human brain is a piece of meat, a few pounds of pale pink jello inside the skull. It's also the wondrous source of consciousness and creativity, the place from which our emotions and insights emerge.

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Book Reviews
7:03 am
Tue July 10, 2012

'Witches' Sequel Casts A Complex Spell

Shadow of Night book cover

The first book in the All Souls trilogy, A Discovery of Witches, was a tour de force, an artful and unusually skilled blending of hard science, history and the supernatural. Deborah Harkness, a historian of science at the University of Southern California, was the perfect person to pull off a mix that some readers called "Harry Potter for intellectuals."

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Book Reviews
4:11 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Alan Cheuse Reviews 'The Colonel'

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 5:38 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The Iranian novelist Mahmoud Dowlatabadi has published nearly 10 works of fiction. His latest novel has been censored in his home country. It's called "The Colonel," and it is out in English, translated from the Persian by Tom Patterdale.

Our reviewer Alan Cheuse says it quickly becomes apparent why the Iranian government blocked its publication.

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All Songs Considered Blog
11:57 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Aliens Have Landed, Hoping To License All Of Humanity's Music

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 2:13 pm

  • Hear John Hodgman read the first chapter of 'Year Zero' by Rob Reid

This just in: Aliens from pretty far away have been listening to music from Earth for the past 35 years. As it turns out, the planet's only redeeming quality is our music. From a legal standpoint this is great news, the biggest copyright violation since forever. That's the first thing you want to know about Rob Reid's smart and wacky novel Year Zero, out this week.

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Author Interviews
11:46 am
Mon July 9, 2012

'The Life That Follows' Disarming IEDs In Iraq

Brian Castner served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1999 to 2007, deploying to Iraq to command bomb disposal units in Balad and Kirkuk in 2005 and 2006.
Joey Campagna Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 2:46 pm

Brian Castner arguably had one of the most nerve-wracking jobs in the U.S. military. He commanded two Explosive Ordnance Disposal units in Iraq, where his team disabled roadside IEDs, investigated the aftermath of roadside car bombings and searched door to door to uncover bomb-makers at their homes.

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Three Books...
7:03 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Too Cool For School: 3 Books On Scandalous Teachers

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 11:01 am

One of my graduate school professors frequently made his students cry. Never mind that we were grown adults. A single cliche used in a class paper could result in public humiliation. And yet the competition to get into his class was fierce. No honor surpassed the chance to be taught (and belittled) by such a masterful mind.

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Crime In The City
3:03 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Dark Doings Among The D.C. Monuments

The Iwo Jima Memorial, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River overlooking Washington, D.C., is one of many capital landmarks that do double duty as crime scenes in the novels of author Mike Lawson.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 10:47 am

In Washington, D.C., the glittering marble of public buildings and monuments can conceal the darkest of deeds. And in the crime novels of Mike Lawson, they do.

"When I started writing, the very first decision I made was, I wanted the book set in D.C.," says Lawson, who recently published his seventh Washington-based thriller, House Blood. "That was before I had a character, or anything else."

And he had a reason.

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Author Interviews
5:00 pm
Sun July 8, 2012

'Electrified Sheep' And Other Odd Experiments

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 5:19 pm

The history of science is not limited to scientists in white coats working quietly with beakers and burners. Sometimes, in the name of knowledge, things can get downright weird.

In his new book, "Electrified Sheep," Alex Boese explores the unexpected side of science, filled with bizarre experiments and intrepid scientists.

Certain experiments served a purpose, like the zapping of animals, which helped scientists learn to harness the power of electricity.

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Author Interviews
7:33 am
Sun July 8, 2012

How The Olympic 'Dream Team' Came To Be

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 2:59 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Twenty years ago, a dozen basketball players were dispatched to Barcelona to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics. The team was something the world of sports had never seen before and probably never will again. They were simply known as the Dream Team and that's the title of a new book written by Sports Illustrated reporter Jack McCallum. He looks back on a team stacked with big names: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson.

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Author Interviews
7:33 am
Sun July 8, 2012

What's Travel Writer Paul Theroux Reading?

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 2:59 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Author Interviews
6:08 am
Sun July 8, 2012

Jennifer Weiner: 'Best Thing' Would Be Equality

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 2:59 pm

Jennifer Weiner writes what is often referred to as women's fiction. But that term is imperfect for many reasons — so we'll just refer to her as the author of multiple best-sellers.

Weiner's written a bookshelf's worth of hits, like Good in Bed, and In Her Shoes, which became a hit movie starring Cameron Diaz. She also created and ran the ABC Family television series State of Georgia. And in her copious free time? She live tweets The Bachelorette.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:42 pm
Sat July 7, 2012

Avi Avital: A Mandolinist's Unlikely Education

Mandolinist Avi Avital's new album Bach was released June 12.
Uwe Arens Deutsche Grammophon

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:24 pm

Avi Avital is one of the world's leading classical mandolinists, gracing concert halls from Tel Aviv to Munich to New York. But the young Israeli says he discovered the mandolin only by coincidence.

"When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who played the mandolin — the neighbor from upstairs," Avital tells NPR's Guy Raz. "It was one of those buildings where all the doors are open and all the neighbors are friends and more close than relatives. It was like one big family.

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Author Interviews
4:42 pm
Sat July 7, 2012

'Agent Garbo,' The Spy Who Lied About D-Day

Juan Pujol Garcia in his uniform as a lieutenant in the Spanish Republican Army.
Courtesy Tamara Kreisler

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 1:50 pm

Juan Pujol Garcia lived a lie that helped win World War II. He was a double agent for the British, performing so well that they nicknamed him for the enigmatic actress Greta Garbo.

Author Stephan Talty tells the story of this unlikely hero in a new book called Agent Garbo: The Brilliant, Eccentric Secret Agent Who Tricked Hitler and Saved D-Day.

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Author Interviews
6:47 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Abraham Lincoln 'Impeached.' Wait, What?

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 8:57 am

Abraham Lincoln is not just America's greatest president. To many, his very face is an emblem of America: honest, homespun, strong and sad, haunted, brooding and humorous.

So where does some famous Yale Law School professor get off writing a novel in which President Lincoln is accused of subverting the Constitution?

In Stephen Carter's new novel, The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, the man we know as the Great Emancipator imprisons critics, invokes martial law, suspends the writ of habeus corpus, and throttles the press — all to win the Civil War.

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Author Interviews
6:33 am
Sat July 7, 2012

'After Murder': Learning To Live After You've Killed

Jesse Reed was convicted of first-degree murder in 1985. He was sentenced to 27 years to life. Now on parole, Reed counsels incarcerated young men through a program run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Elisabeth Fall Life After Murder

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 8:57 am

Can a murderer ever be redeemed? That's the question journalist Nancy Mullane takes on in her new book, Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption. Over the past few years, Mullane has made dozens of trips to California's San Quentin prison to interview men locked up for committing the most heinous crimes.

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Author Interviews
2:03 am
Sat July 7, 2012

Remembering George Szell, Powerhouse Conductor

Originally published on Sat July 7, 2012 5:42 pm

Michael Charry was the "sorcerer's apprentice" to celebrated 20th-century conductor George Szell. For the last decade of Szell's tenure at the Cleveland Orchestra, Charry was an assistant conductor.

Now, Charry has captured the power of Szell's artistry — as well as his tempestuous personality — in a new biography called George Szell: A Life of Music.

Charry vividly recalls Szell testing him on how many notes he could find in a chord when he first auditioned for the job.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:35 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Around The Classical Internet: July 6, 2012

Soprano Evelyn Lear, circa 1965.
Erich Auerbach Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 11, 2012 1:32 pm

  • American soprano Evelyn Lear — whose roles ranged from title role in Berg's Lulu to Mozart to Sondheim — died at age 86 Monday at a nursing home, though the cause was not announced. (Her late husband of more than fifty years, the bass-baritone Thomas Stewart, died six years ago.)
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Author Interviews
3:51 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Science, The Supernatural Key To 'Night's' Alchemy

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 4:46 pm

Deborah Harkness is not only an enormously successful novelist who writes about trendy things like vampires. She's also a respected historian of science — a professor at the University of Southern California — and a wine expert.

In fact there's a lot of wine appreciation in Harkness' breakthrough novel, A Discovery of Witches. Her academic work involves the study of alchemy — the transformation of matter. She says wine is like alchemy, too.

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Opinion
3:13 pm
Fri July 6, 2012

Wish You Were Here: City Kayaking In Seattle

The view of Seattle from Lake Union.
Razvan Orendovici

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 4:14 pm

Novelist Jess Walter's most recent novel is Beautiful Ruins.

At dawn, the sun curls across the lake's placid surface like a twist of lemon on a gin martini. Easing into my kayak on this glacier-cut, 12,000-year-old lake, I feel as I always do on its water: alone in the world.

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