Beethoven transformed music—but has veneration of him stifled his successors? In the magazine this week, Alex Ross examines the composer’s life and legacy:
“Beethoven is a singularity in the history of art—a phenomenon of dazzling and disconcerting force. He not only left his mark on all subsequent composers but also molded entire institutions. … The musicians’ platform became the stage of an invisible drama, the temple of a sonic revelation.”
Illustration by Daniel Adel
Hua Hsu on scenes from the New York City’s pre-gentrification graffiti subculture:
“I remember seeing stickers by COST and his partner, REVS, everywhere: on buildings, trucks, cranes, ladders, lampposts, crosswalk signals, stop signs. It troubled me that I could not decode their meaning. What were they selling? When I learned that the answer was nothing, I was confused and then astonished.”
Photograph courtesy Artists Public Domain/Cinema Conservancy
During World War II, Josephine Baker served with the French Red Cross and was an active member of the French resistance movement. Using her career as a cover Baker became an intelligence agent, carrying secret messages written in invisible ink on her sheet music. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre, and received a Medal of the Resistance in 1946. In 1961 she received the highest French honor, the Legion d’Honneur awarded by then President Charles de Gaulle.
Our loss, U.S.A….
If you don’t admire the shit out of J. Baker, who was also pretty openly bisexual and adopted NINETEEN children in addition to the badassery mentioned above, I want you to go sit in the corner and think about your life choices.
um she was also a huge civil rights activist and her refusal to perform for segregated audiences at major clubs that were fallin over themselves to book her helped de-segregate vegas performance venues
aaaand she had a pet cheetah
aaand she slept with Frida Kahlo.
I DIDN’T KNOW THIS LAST THING.