Matthew Gurewitsch
Matthew Gurewitsch
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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In memoriam: Yveta Synek Graff
The velvet revolutionary who put Czech opera on the map

November 25, 2015

Yveta Synek Graff died at her home in Casa Dorinda, Montecito, California, on November 6. Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on November 18, 1932, Yveta was the only child of the distinguished judge, author, playwright, editor, politician, and diplomat Emil Synek and Eugenia Budlovska, formerly a star of Czech theater. Wanted by the Nazis, Synek escaped to Western Europe in 1939 and spent the following years chiefly in England, serving under President Edvard Beneš in the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. His wife and daughter endured the hardships and anxieties of World War II in Podolí, on the outskirts of Prague, totally in the dark about his fate. At war's end, he caught the first train back to Prague,. In 1947, anticipating the imminent Communist takeover, he spirited himself and his wife and daughter to Paris.

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A Bolcom and Morris scrapbook
"Autumn Leaves" concludes a remarkable discography

October 29, 2015

One evening in March 1972, a woman named Francy, carrying twins two months shy of their due date, climbed to the fifth floor of a Greenwich Village walkup just to introduce her friend Joan Morris, a mezzo-soprano, to a slight acquaintance, the composer and pianist William Bolcom. As Bolcom tells the story on a liner note for Autumn Leaves, the latest of his recordings with Morris, "We've been together ever since." Setting aside any Wagnerian implications, I'm tempted to call Joan and Bill the Tristan and Isolde of popular American song.

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For Arvo Pärt at 80
Manfred Eicher curates the perfect musical retrospective

October 23, 2015

On September 11, the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt turned 80. To mark the occasion, Manfred Eicher, recording producer and founder of ECM Records, has assembled Arvo Pärt: Musica Selecta, Eicher's personal two-CD tour d' horizon of a discography three decades in the making.

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Sondheim for keyboard
Anthony de Mare's collective tribute to an 80-year-old wunderkind

September 28, 2015

Miniatures require concentration, all the more when they emanate from many hands. Beginning in 2007, the pianist Anthony de Mare, proud champion of new music, has commissioned three-dozen encore-length tributes to Stephen Sondheim. The resulting candy box, released last week as Liaisons on three generous CD's (ECM New Series, $37.98), opens with William Bolcom's whirling, contrapuntal "A Little Night Fughetta" (on the theme "Anyone Can Whistle"), followed by Nico Muhly's percussive "Color and Light" and mimimalist pioneer Steve Reich overdubbed 2-piano version of "Finishing the Hat"—a first indication of the imaginative range.

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Waltzing Matilda
Source studies in the Broadway musical (continued0

July 24, 2015

The afternoon after viewing Fun Home, I caught Matilda, at the time happily ignorant of Roald Dahl's children's classic. Two years ago around the same time, the musical—songs by Tim Minchin, book by Dennis Kelly—was in contention for a boatload of Tonys and took home its share, though it lost out to A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder for the big prize.

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Books by Matthew Gurewitsch

Cover of Rafal Olbinski Women Cover of When Stars Blow Out


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