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Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009

Steve Basson Talks ‘Kurt Oppens on Music’

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Music has become synonymous with the holiday season—some of it inspired, some of it trite. If you are looking for something more sophisticated than the conventional Christmas carol, tune in to Boswell Book Co. on Monday, Nov. 30, for Steve Basson’s presentation on the recently released book Kurt Oppens on Music: An Aspen Legacy, edited by Nancy Thomas and Jane Vial Jaffe. The book includes more than 180 program notes and two-dozen essays on performances conducted during Oppens’ 30-plus years at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he served as music critic and primary program annotator from 1957 to 1995. This master craftsman, born in 1910 in Hamburg, Germany, came to America as a refugee of World War II. Armed with a musical passion for classical works by Mozart, Bach and Brahms, Oppens traveled to Aspen to embark upon an impressive writing career actualized through the language of music. A journalist in his own right, Oppens wrote such insightful program notes on festival performances that some concertgoers even took them home. Kurt Oppens on Music demonstrates how Oppens’ writings weave together musical commentary with deep personal musings and multifaceted lyrical prose.

Steve Basson is a name that Milwaukee symphony-lovers may recognize. Basson, a musician who developed his talents under the tutelage of Oppens, spent 32 years as the principal bassoonist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Basson is known for his many contributions to the Milwaukee arts scene, from teaching music in his own home to numerous MSO pre-concert lectures and decades performing in the orchestra. During his time as a student at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Basson says he viewed Oppens as an icon. He will have an opportunity to expound upon Oppens’ rare musical gifts when he discusses Kurt Oppens on Music on Monday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. at Boswell Book Co.

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