Books by Theodore Libbey
- Paperback, 536 pages
- Paperback, 979 pages
NPR stories about Theodore Libbey
Schumann's entire being was music, informed by dream and fantasy. He was music's quintessential Romantic, always ardent, always striving for the ideal. Learn about his passionately creative but troubled life, and hear some of his best music.
In the middle of the 20th century, when composers were writing with angularity and dissonance, Barber forged his own lyrical, romantic style. By the time he was 26, he'd composed the iconic Adagio for Strings.
A composer of matchless genius, no one before or since Chopin has contributed as many significant works to the piano's repertoire, or come closer to capturing its soul.
The composer's Music for 18 Musicians was a breakthrough work in the history of minimalism and a watershed moment in Reich's career. Its lush textures and expansion of a static harmonic situation make for a dynamic work, bringing elements of "maximalism" to minimalism.
Dowland was an important and beloved composer at a time when there was no dichotomy between popular and classical music. He was, in effect, an Elizabethan-era pop musician. The dark, wistful mood that pervades Dowland's lute music was, in its day, a sign of maturity and intelligence.
Mahler's grand-scale "Resurrection" Symphony marked the real beginning of his career as a composer. It's the work with which he answered the metaphysical challenge of Beethoven's Ninth, with a turbulent beginning and a triumphant conclusion.
Handel's deeply felt musical setting of the life of Christ conveys the emotional tide of its story with almost miraculous insight. In the process, it's acquired a universality that is unique in the history of music.
Monteverdi stood on the divide between two great musical periods, the Renaissance and the Baroque. His Vespers illustrates a mastery at blending the new with the old in a way that's coherent, expressive and moving, especially in John Eliot Gardiner's atmospheric recording made in Venice.
The song cycle Winterreise stands among the masterpieces in the art of song. Schubert conjures up harmonic twists and melodic turns, conveying emotions with remarkable simplicity and force.
After all these years, conductor Fritz Reiner's 1955 recording of Bartok's music remains the best. He understood the poignant, brooding, mysterious and exuberant moods it explores, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays as if it has been set on fire.
The Bohemian composer claimed that "everyone who has a nose must smell America" in his Symphony No. 9. But rather than serve as a musical postcard from abroad, Dvorak's Symphony From the New World ultimately serves as more of a fond look back toward home.
The German composer utilizes powerful orchestral sounds, as well as silence, to elicit a psychological and emotional response from the listener. Who better than conductor Daniel Barenboim, a veteran of the opera pit, to pull it all off?
The concerto was the English composer's last major work for orchestra, as well as his most confessional. In this recording, cellist Jacqueline Du Pre gives one of her finest performances, exposing both gentleness in the pain and an edge to the tenderness.
Subtle and brilliant at the same time, J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos are a microcosm of Baroque music. They contain an astonishingly vast sample of that era's emotional universe.
It may have been written in 1830, but Berlioz's groundbreaking music provides the soundtrack to some wild nights — complete with dancing, drugs, an execution and a rowdy party of witches. The symphony's unusual effects and instruments tell the story of a wild-eyed musician in love.
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 works brilliantly as pure music and achieves a "victorious" closer that ends with the triumph of evil over good. Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic made their historic recording of Symphony No. 5 exactly 50 years ago Tuesday in Boston's Symphony Hall.
Franz Liszt's Piano Sonata in B minor demands the utmost from the performer in musical as well as technical terms. It's a piece that in the best performances can spark a powerful emotional experience in the listener.
Finnish composer Jean Sibelius introduces some of his most memorable ideas in his fifth symphony. Inspired by swans in flight, the symphony ends in a magnificent blaze of glory.
The subtle, elusive quality of Debussy's twenty-four preludes is captured perfectly by pianist Paul Jacobs, who plays them with a tolling, bell-like sound. The Bosendorfer piano he uses has a sound similar to that of Debussy's early 20th-century pianos.
Jessye Norman's voice is built for Strauss' final songs, which sound at once intimate and grand. With impeccable control over phrasing, she sings long-breathed lines at the softest volume, yet with full tone.
Beethoven pushed the piano as far as the instrument could go — it was his instrument. Pianist Emil Gilels gives intense, powerful performances of three of the master's greatest sonatas.
With its German text and emphasis on consoling the living, Brahms' decidedly non-Latin Requiem was unlike anything that had come before it. Hear conductor Otto Klemperer's soulful rendering of Brahms' personal and rapturous music.
The original Broadway cast recording of Bernstein's West Side Story was made only three days after the show opened. More than 50 years later, the performers' fresh vitality still shines through.
No one possessed the nerve, or ability, to perform Tchaikovsky's final symphonies with as much dark and passionate intensity as the Russian conductor Evgeny Mravinsky.
In this bittersweet music, Schubert added an extra cello to the standard string quartet, and in the process created a completely new sound for a small string ensemble. Hear a performance that deeply probes Schubert's personal brand of lyrical melancholy.