Philip Kennicott

The Minor Greatness of Benjamin Britten

How did England's best composer accomplish so much when he aimed for so little?

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?

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

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Gay Life at the Opera

Between homoeroticism and kitsch

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.

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America's Orchestras are in Crisis

How an effort to popularize classical music undermines what makes orchestras great.

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

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The Fool of Chance

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

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Defacing the Score

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

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Upward Dog

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

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

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