Rock singer-songwriter Andrew W.K. is convinced that feeling alive is a very good thing—and that music isn’t doing its real work if it’s not triggering that emotion. For Buffy Sainte-Marie, whose protest songs raised her profile with the FBI, the making of music is like the dreaming of dreams—the lyrics and the melody seep through. It was after Jimi Hendrix-obsessed Mark Mothersbaugh accepted Robert Moog’s invitation to experiment with a Minimoog that the Devo sound was born.

Music is not just the backdrop of our lives. It is the story of our lives. Articulate musicians take us to the place where those stories begin—teaching us not just about the making of songs, but about the living of them.

Watch this space for upcoming segments on Joyce DiDonato, !llmind, Wu Han, Alisa Weilerstein, Bang on a Can, and more.

Thinking of using this in your classroom? Check out the exercise suggested in Jennifer Higdon: Carefully Composed.


Gerald Busby's Lust for Life

Composer Gerald Busby could not have guessed that after surviving heartbreak, HIV, and drug addiction, he would experience an artistic rebirth in his twilight years.

Tags: composer


Eric Owens

With a voice and stage presence as big as his personality, Eric Owens is among the most celebrated bass-baritones in the opera world.

Tags: classical, opera


Goldberg Variations: Timeless Virtuosity

Bach's centuries-old, devilishly difficult Goldberg Variations continue to challenge pianists and fascinate audiences.

Tags: classical, piano, historical

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Lisa Hannigan: Stalking the Muse

After a decade of nonstop creativity, Lisa Hannigan was forced to confront the dreaded "blank page."

Tags: singer-songwriter, indie

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Ian Brennan and the Democratization of Music

Producer Ian Brennan truly believes in the democratization of music.

Tags: music producer, world music

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Jennifer Higdon: Carefully Composed

Contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon makes classical music, but still loves Beyoncé.

Tags: classical, composer

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Mark Mothersbaugh: 21st Century Renaissance Man

Mothersbaugh's sustained a life in art far removed from his band, Devo.

Tags: composer, soundtrack, electronic, polymath

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Ruth Slenczynska: The Last of the Great Romantics

Ruth Slenczynska is the last living musical link to Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Tags: classical, piano, historical

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Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah: 2nd Century Jazz

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is leading the charge into jazz's next chapter.

Tags: jazz, trumpet


Buffy Sainte-Marie's Indefatigable Spirit

Buffy Sainte-Marie's 1960s protest songs made her the subject of FBI attention. Fifty years on, she wouldn't change a thing.

Tags: singer-songwriter, folk, First Nations

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Mason Bates: Classical Disrupter

Mason Bates challenges existing notions of what belongs in the concert hall.

Tags: classical, composer, electronic

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Rum, Cigars, and Mozart

The Havana Lyceum Orchestra is proof of classical music's importance in Cuba.

Tags: classical, piano, orchestra