Mark Swed

Columnist

Mark Swed has been the classical music critic of the Los Angeles Times since 1996. Before that, he was a music critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Wall Street Journal and has written extensively for international publications. Swed is the author of the book-length text to the best-selling iPad app, “The Orchestra,” and is a former editor of the Musical Quarterly. He was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

Recent Articles

  • Noon to Midnight, L.A. Phil delivers new music (and free ice cream)

    Noon to Midnight, L.A. Phil delivers new music (and free ice cream)

    The logo for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 12-hour new music extravaganza, Noon to Midnight, was a large bright yellow sun surrounded by a color wheel of small rings darkening from orange to, well, midnight blue. So it was Saturday at Walt Disney Concert Hall. I began by skirting the morning’s...

  • When refusing the hour saves the day

    When refusing the hour saves the day

    When the celebrated South African artist William Kentridge created his installation “The Refusal of Time” for Documenta 13, the international exhibition in Kassel, Germany, five years ago, it proved such a draw that you had to refuse an hour or more to wait in line to see it. Through films, various...

  • The L.A. Phil is modern even when it's Baroque

    The L.A. Phil is modern even when it's Baroque

    “The Messiah” and “Christmas Oratorio” may be waiting in the wings, but Handel and Bach are already at hand. The season of the Baroque has begun, and it’s proving that it can be the timeliest of music if we let it. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, for one, is wrapping its signature 12-hour new-music...

  • 'War of the Worlds': Delirious opera rises from the death and destruction of L.A.

    'War of the Worlds': Delirious opera rises from the death and destruction of L.A.

    When the Los Angeles Philharmonic got the curious notion it needed another opera director on its payroll (Peter Sellars had been the first in the 1990s), it gave Yuval Sharon the vague title of “artist-collaborator” last season, after he rejected “disrupter at large” as having become too conventionally...

  • L.A. Opera lets Ingmar Bergman's film 'Persona' sing

    L.A. Opera lets Ingmar Bergman's film 'Persona' sing

    Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1966 film, “Persona,” begins with a grimly unsettling photomontage that includes the slaughter of lamb. It is accompanied by avant-garde Swedish composer Lars Johan Werle’s intentionally alienating score. This introduces not the film’s two startling characters, a catatonic...

  • L.A. Phil centennial plans: Unprecedented commissions, new Gehry-designed home for YOLA

    L.A. Phil centennial plans: Unprecedented commissions, new Gehry-designed home for YOLA

    Not content to be widely considered the most important orchestra in America, the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced on Thursday utopian plans for a 2018-19 centennial season on an unprecedentedly lavish scale. For the year leading up to the 100th anniversary of its first concert on Oct. 24, 1919,...

  • Israeli and Syrian musicians brighten these Brooklyn Knights

    Israeli and Syrian musicians brighten these Brooklyn Knights

    The Brooklyn-based ensemble the Knights bombed when it was in residence at the Ojai Music Festival in 2014. Although the chamber orchestra has friends in high places through its association with Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, there was noticeable annoyance among sophisticated patrons who...

  • How Plácido Domingo taught L.A. to love opera

    How Plácido Domingo taught L.A. to love opera

    Plácido Domingo clearly has a pretty good memory. He’s sung 148 roles — mostly tenor throughout his 60-year career, although now at 76, he’s an active baritone — a record that has no chance of being broken in the foreseeable future, if ever. He’s conducted numerous more operas. He’s been responsible...

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