An illustration of claqueurs from an 1853 issue of Harper's Magazine

When Paid Applauders Ruled the Paris Opera House

Professional applauders, collectively known as the “claque,” helped mold the tastes of an uncertain audience.
Vintage engraving of an old fisherman drinking a cup of tea, 1900

What’s the Difference between a Shanty and a Sea Song?

“Soon May the Wellerman Come” is the heart of ShantyTok—but it’s not a sea shanty at all. Two authoritative essays roil the waters.
Mango the Mambo dancer performs on stage with drum accompaniment, 1954

When Mambo Was King, Its Creators Were Stereotyped

As a style of Afro-Cuban music and dance, mambo was considered "primitive." And not just by white North Americans.
Sidney Robertson Cowell

A Bag of Old Songs from Elsewhere

Sidney Robertson Cowell might be starting to get the attention her rich life, first-rate writing, and broad work as an ethnomusicologist deserve.
Queen Zenobia

More Than an Aria Written Over Rice: Rediscovering a Lost Rossini Opera

Rossini's "lost opera," Aureliano in Palmira is making a comeback with a new production. The opera's history involves antiquity, archeology, and Bugs Bunny.
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

A Conversation with Alexander Chee

While fact-checking his critically acclaimed novel about an enigmatic soprano of the Paris Opera , Chee happened upon a piece of information on JSTOR he could not ignore.
Miles Davis at the Nice Jazz Festival in July 1989



Do We Overstate Miles Davis’ Genius?

There are things about Miles Davis we never discuss. Maybe it's time we did.
Ludwig van Beethoven Painting by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1819 or 1820

Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16, 1770 in Bonn, Germany.