Philip Kennicott

The Minor Greatness of Benjamin Britten
How did England's best composer accomplish so much when he aimed for so little?
January 31, 2014

Benjamin Britten was England’s great hope for serious modern music. So why was he happy to make so many small, precious works—and do they stand the test of time?

Rediscovering Bartok's Anxious, Hypnotic, Intellectually Exhausting Quartets
January 27, 2014

There is much more to the composer's quartets than folksy charm.

Gay Life at the Opera
Between homoeroticism and kitsch
October 31, 2013

Opera also provided gay people a shared language for emotional expression, first through its extremity of emotion and frequent depiction of doomed love, and later through the virtuosic argot of camp.

America's Orchestras are in Crisis
How an effort to popularize classical music undermines what makes orchestras great.
August 25, 2013

Quit trying to popularize classical music. It only undermines what makes orchestras great.

The Fool of Chance
December 02, 2010

There was something enduringly (and for many endearingly) amateur about John Cage. While his his compositions do expose the listener to striking new s

Defacing the Score
October 04, 2010

Why Mahler? is an uncomfortable mix of memoir and biography, a personal musing on the great Viennese symphonist who ruled over fin-de-siècle musical l

Upward Dog
June 15, 2010

It is odd to have two histories of yoga arrive almost simultaneously. Is there something about the current moment? Has yoga--however one defines it--m

Landscape and Memory
March 22, 2010

The most powerful passages of Savage’s fascinating history of monuments in the nation’s capital document the transition of this lost nineteenth-centur