We’ve Replaced One Myth Of An Artist For Another

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“We’ve done away with the ridiculous Outsider Saint. But we’ve replaced him with a Servant whose primary task is to make us feel good about ourselves, either through the work itself, or through the way the work (or the artist’s personal life) allows us to grandstand.”

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The Long Strange Story Of Chopin’s Heart

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“Chopin’s heart remains an object of fascination and dispute. In 2008, a team of scholars asked for permission to subject it to a DNA analysis, in order to test a theory that Chopin died not of tuberculosis, as was long believed, but of cystic fibrosis.”

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A History of Violins (Stolen Ones)

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Every year or so a stolen or lost Strad or Guarneri makes headlines. Former FBI special agent Robert K. Wittman gives a brief history of purloined fiddles and talks about how law enforcement goes about locating them. (audio)

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What’s To Be Learned From The Minnesota Orchestra Lockout?

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“The real story of the lockout, and a lesson for other orchestras, is how the musicians in Minneapolis bonded and never broke, how they supported each other with cash and connections, with grocery cards, time shares, babysitting, and just time on the phone late at night, and all the while they kept playing, and became more united each week, even as babies were born and loved ones died, even as one member was diagnosed with breast cancer.”

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The Key To Popular Books (At Least One Theory, Anyway)

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“There are people with bullhorns and there are ecosystems of people with bullhorns. There are institutions and networks, formal and otherwise, in which we all live and dream, tell stories and finger our worry beads. The ecosystems in which books are developed, written, published, publicized, and enjoyed are no different.”

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Want To Innovate? Churn Is The Key

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“Churn, not density, between places also spurs innovation. No sidewalk ballet required. Conversely: If no one left your super-dense city and no one moved in, innovation would suffer. Migration is economic development. Encouraging a local graduate to stay makes everyone poorer. Walkability and density are of little consequence.”

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We’re Getting Obsessed With Data About Ourselves. Will All This Measuring Make It Harder To Just Live?

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“All this data is meant to spur us to love ourselves better and run our lives more efficiently. And yet it’s hard not to hear, lurking in this promise of self-possession, the threat of numbers dispossessing us, of becoming a feverish addiction we can’t kick. Can even the most adept multi-tasker really live the life that they’re simultaneously tracking?”

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The Night Vladimir Horowitz Captured America

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“That evening changed a lot of lives, as households tuned in across the country to see and hear one of the most celebrated of all pianists (remember that there were only three networks in 1968—and no video stores or Netflix) and Horowitz never again played to an unsold seat.”

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In Search of Lost Screenplay: When Pinter Adapted Proust

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“If one were to create a stylistic spectrum of great writers in the twentieth century, Harold Pinter and Marcel Proust would likely wind up on opposite ends of it. … So, when choosing a writer to adapt In Search of Lost Time for the screen, one would not be inclined to think first of Pinter – and yet, that is what happened.”

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Why I Nailed My Scrotum to Red Square

Petr Pavlensky

“He has wrapped himself in barbed wire, sewn his lips shut and caused the world to wince with his now-infamous stunt in Moscow. As the Russian authorities circle around Petr Pavlensky, the protest artist explains why he’s not afraid.”

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Top Posts From AJBlogs 02.05.14

Museum Secrets: Instructive Audit In St. Louis
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See It Now: Video of Architect’s Presentation and Panel Discussion on MoMA’s Expansion
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New York Philharmonic Puts Its Archives Online

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Among the future highlights, the Philharmonic said, would be first editions of Berlioz’s “Benvenuto Cellini” and Wagner’s “Rienzi” overture, and a score of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 with evidence of a spat between two of the orchestra’s most illustrious music directors.

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Bolshoi Director Vows To Clean Up The Place

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“The director of Russia’s Bolshoi theatre vowed Wednesday to bring an end to the bitter infighting that culminated in an acid attack on its artistic director and create a ‘normal artistic atmosphere’ at the legendary institution.”

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What Do Theatre Audiences Want? Are Theatres Afraid to Ask?

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A former chief of the Royal Shakespeare Company says “she and others had [at one point] been keen to organise large meetings of RSC audiences in Stratford and London and simply ask them what they wanted. The meetings never took place, because fear intervened. What if the audience wanted something that the RSC’s artistic team did not want to give them?”

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Could Robert Frost’s Letters Repair His Reputation?

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As information about the poet’s life came out in the years after his death in 1963, his image changed from New England country sage to jealous and cruel egomaniac. Yet one of the editors of Frost’s correspondence says that what we’ll find there is “mostly … a generosity of spirit.”

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