Rex Levang Feature Archive

The well-known opera Der Rosenkavalier has a tangled plot. Follow along with our act-by-act description, and a whiteboard video from Music Director Rex Levang, who distills the plot via its main characters. (07/22/2011)
This week, the Minnesota Orchestra performs the grand finale to its current season -- broadcast live on Classical MPR Friday night at 8 p.m. (06/07/2011)
Rex Levang's connection with Michael Steinberg was through his books. (07/29/2009)
Spend an hour listening to the music of 1858, and discovering some interesting connections between the music and Minnesota's history and landscape. (05/15/2008)
We asked staff members of Classical Minnesota Public Radio to select outstanding holiday discs -- and their choices ranged from "Nutcracker" to Christopher Rouse. (12/25/2007)
Opera great Luciano Pavarotti made a stop in St. Paul in 2001, during his 40th anniversary tour. MPR's Rex Levang spoke with Pavarotti prior to that performance. (09/05/2007)
To complement your Valentine's Day, Minnesota Public Radio music director Rex Levang recommends recordings by three women whose stunning voices pull at the heartstrings. (02/10/2004)
MPR's Rex Levang earmarks 9 classical recordings for your collection this year. (01/02/2004)
During Saturday matinees at New York's Metropolitan Opera, it's safe to say, most of the audience is paying attention to the travails of Tosca, Siegfried, or Manon Lescaut. But there's a small group, sitting in a special box, whose thoughts are elsewhere. They're the panelists on the venerable Opera Quiz, and this season, for the first time, one of them will come from Minnesota Public Radio. (01/19/2002)
Over the years, Aaron Copland has been hailed as the quintessential American composer by everyone from Leonard Bernstein, who said, "He's the best we've got," to director Spike Lee, who paid musical tribute to Copland in his films. November 2000 marks the centenary of his birth - 100 years of Copland. To mark the occasion, we've come up with 10 nuggets about 10 aspects of the composer - 100 audio clips, anecdotes, quotes, and more. (11/12/2001)
An amiable, modest public figure or a morbidly sensitive, possibly suicidal, neurotic? Such are the conflicting images of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, whose birthday we celebrate this month. Though the popularity of his music is undisputed, the picture of Tchaikovsky the man has been anything but. Alexander Poznansky, a Russian music scholar at Yale, has taken a fresh look at this complex personality in "Tchaikovsky Through Others' Eyes" (University of Indiana Press, 1999) - a fascinating account of his life and career collected from the diaries of people closest to him. (05/05/2001)
Sometime in the Middle Ages, Christian churches began observing Holy Week by retelling the story of Christ's crucifixion in music. Those beginnings were simple—Bible verses set to simple chant melodies—but eventually they would culminate in one of the most ambitious musical compositions of all time. When J. S. Bach came to write his St. Matthew Passion in the 1720s, the passion, as a musical form, had grown to allow orchestra, choirs, and non-scriptural choruses and arias. But even by the standard of the Baroque passion, the Passion According to St. Matthew is exceptional for its musical richness and its grand scope. (04/01/2001)
Over the years, Aaron Copland has been hailed as the quintessential American composer by everyone from Leonard Bernstein, who said, "He's the best we've got," to director Spike Lee, who paid musical tribute to Copland in his films. November 2000 marks the centenary of his birth - 100 years of Copland. To mark the occasion, we've come up with 10 nuggets about 10 aspects of the composer - 100 audio clips, anecdotes, quotes, and more. (11/12/2000)
Can you recommend some pieces of Halloween music? Some real scary ones? And so in that spirit, from the world of classical music, we bring you a passel of quirky, ghoulish and upsetting lore about the people who created it. But be warned. There are no peeled grapes here. Everything you will read here is, as far as can be ascertained, quite true. If you prefer to think of Beethoven as a master musician who made important advances in the treatment of symphonic form, you may want to turn back at this point. But if you're curious who got hold of his skull in 1888. . . . (10/20/2000)
The cultural rebelliousness lit by Jean Cocteau and driven by Erik Satie spawned the next batch of eccentrics from which Les Six, a new musical avant-garde led by Satie and consisting of Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, and Georges Auric, was born. Many of their early works were good-naturedly Dadaist and make witty use of quotation and parody, popular music-hall style as well as jazz - a self-consciously simple style reacting against both Romanticism and Impressionism. (03/20/2000)