In this time of empty concert halls and virtual performances, WNYC's Sara Fishko is turning her attention to music with an audience, in this episode of Fishko Files.
Sometimes artists, seeking inspiration, find it in the very thing that challenges and haunts them most. Here, WNYC’s Sara Fishko talks with visual artist Frank Stella about some very productive pain. (Produced in 2011)
A few years ago, a rash of books written by arts and entertainment critics inspired WNYC's Sara Fishko to talk to some of the critics/authors about the critical impulse. (Produced in 2006)
The Woody Guthrie archive is filled with riches, including some related to "This Land is Your Land," written 80 years ago. WNYC's Sara Fishko visited Woody's daughter, Nora, for a journey through a bit of Guthrie history in this archival Fishko Files, produced for his centenary in 2012.
In the run-up to the election, we’re all listening to speeches - and many of them are grappling with the very idea of America: what do we want America to be? This episode of Fishko Files goes back to the World War II era, when, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, Hollywood movies were asking the same question - or rather, answering it. Jeanine Basinger's The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre, David Welky's The Moguls and the Dictators, and Thomas Doherty's Projections of War are available...more
After nearly 70 years on newsstands, Playboy Magazine has ended its print run. In this archival episode produced for The United States of Anxiety, WNYC's Sara Fishko tells the story of Hugh Hefner, whose notion of the "Indoor Man" made Playboy a midcentury staple. The United States of Anxiety is coming to radio this Sunday, August 23 at 6pm, airing weekly on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820.
The artist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was recently honored with a quilt created by friends and admirers in his memory. Wojnarowicz, who made art that captured his own decline during the AIDS crisis, was the subject of a Whitney Museum show that inspired this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2018). Cynthia Carr's book Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz is available on Amazon.
Pianist and singer Hazel Scott was born in Trinidad a century ago, in the summer of 1920. Scott is well-remembered for her sparkling piano technique, as well as her style - but her biography reveals a powerful character with a rich and layered life behind the glamour. More in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2009)
The death of actress and star Olivia de Havilland a few days ago has stirred many memories and considerations. WNYC's Sara Fishko chimes in for this episode of Fishko Files. William Wyler's The Heiress (1949) airs on TCM next month and is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Criterion and Amazon. From the New Yorker: a consideration of the "last lioness of the Hollywood Studio System," by Rachel Syme.
Annie Ross, the singer and actress who died this week at 89, was one-third of the phenomenally successful jazz vocal group Lambert Hendricks and Ross. Its heady days of success, as well as Ross herself, were recalled by the late Jon Hendricks - who spoke with WNYC's Sara Fishko in this archival edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)
A cultural movement of Black writers and artists was flourishing a century ago in uptown New York, and it’s being remembered now with various virtual events. As WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us in this episode of Fishko Files, the Harlem Renaissance movement was rich with ideas. Emily Bernard is a professor at the University of Vermont and the editor of Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten. Harlem Renaissance 100 continues with its second, virtual phase. Next up:...more
Composer and arranger Johnny Mandel died last Monday at the age of 94. In the sixty years prior, he gave us standards such as “Emily” and “The Shadow of Your Smile,” and ushered in an era of jazz-inflected movies with his 1958 score for the film “I Want to Live.” WNYC’s Sara Fishko spoke to him about that period in this archival Fishko Files, produced in 2008.
This archival Fishko Files was produced in 2006 - the year musician and manager John Levy was given the prestigious title of "Jazz Master" by the National Endowment for the Arts. His profound impact on music could be seen in many forms, and for many decades. Levy died in January 2012, just three months shy of his 100th birthday.
Some of the major struggles and victories of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s coincided with a most active period for jazz music. WNYC's Sara Fishko looks at a few cases where the movement and the music came together, in this edition of Fishko Files. Featuring music by Max Roach, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck, among others. Max Roach's We Insist! Freedom Now Duke Ellington's My People Dave Brubeck's The Gates of Justice Louis Armstrong, Dave Lambert, Jon Henricks, and others' The Real A...more
A documentary film about the late, infamous lawyer Roy Cohn premieres tonight. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, the variety of films and dramatic portrayals of Cohn reveal a figure both fascinating and repellent. More in this episode of Fishko Files. Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn premieres tonight at 9pm on HBO. Where's My Roy Cohn?, Point of Order, Citizen Cohn, and the HBO miniseries Angels in America are available to stream or buy online.
The Depression-era novel Miss Lonelyhearts, by Nathanael West, has been called "the purest expression of despair that American literature has produced, in any era." As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this Fishko Files, 80 years after the author's death the book - about the descent into darkness of an advice columnist - still rings true. Miss Lonelyhearts is available to order online. Jonathan Lethem's upcoming novel, The Arrest, will be published this November. You can find more Lethem on West in...more
20 years ago, a book by David Margolick reminded us of the power of a historic song about lynching, Strange Fruit - made famous by the great Billie Holiday. As Americans march against systemic racism, this archival Fishko Files with Lena Horne and others on the song that some say changed the world. (Produced in 2000)
After the opening of the September 11th Memorial and Museum, record-breaking crowds traveled to Ground Zero, to the exact spot where the tragedy happened. In this archival edition of Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko asks - why?
New York-born master filmmaker Alan Pakula produced To Kill a Mockingbird and directed Sophie's Choice, but, as WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests tell us, he's also known for a trio of dark and urgent thrillers which are not getting old - they're getting new. (Produced in 2018)
In the 1940s, author James Agee's film criticism revealed his unusually artful take on Hollywood movies. 65 years after his death, WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests explore Agee's lifelong passion for cinema. (Produced in 2005)
In this crisis, we're all looking at things a little differently, including movies both new and old. Are we losing ourselves in culture, or are we finding ourselves? A little of both, says WNYC's Sara Fishko, in this episode of Fishko Files. The Best Years of Our Lives, Rear Window, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gold Diggers of 1933, and Follow the Fleet are all streaming now on Amazon.
This Monday is May 4th, otherwise known as 5/4 - which has become an unofficial "Dave Brubeck Day" over the years, in tribute to the jazz pianist and composer's most celebrated tune, "Take Five" (1959), written in 5/4 time. WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to Brubeck [b. 1920, d. 2012] in 2004.
Charlie Chaplin entertained his way through the crises of the 20th century: his first appearance on the screen coincided with the start of World War I. During the Great Depression, audiences flocked to his Modern Times, a memorably satirical take on the era. He lampooned Hitler in The Great Dictator in 1940. Later on, he had a run-in with McCarthyism. A look back at the dramatic life of Chaplin's "Tramp" character in this episode of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2014)
Joel Meyerowitz's new book is called "How I Make Photographs." But nearly 20 years ago he became known for another book, one that documented the armies of workers turning chaos into order after the 9/11 attacks. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this Fishko Files. Joel Meyerowitz's photographs of Ground Zero can be seen in the Phaidon book Aftermath. His latest book, How I Make Photographs, is out now. For more books and photographs, visit joelmeyerowitz.com.
We learned earlier this week of the death of the remarkable and absolutely irreplaceable music producer Hal Willner, whom Sara Fishko interviewed at length and profiled for a Fishko Files in 2018. Willner died of complications from coronavirus. His knowledge and love of music - and sense of fun - gave an indelible, personal slant to everything he produced.
During the last presidential campaign season, Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd caught on for the way its story mirrored, to some degree, that of our current president's rise to power. As we watch the official, increasingly self-promotional daily briefings on our current crisis, Face comes to mind again. Though WNYC's Sara Fishko recommends here that it be seen with others, "in the dark," it might be even more effective to see it alone, in your place of isolation. (Produced in 2016)
In the '60s, says WNYC’s Sara Fishko, the very eccentric Marshall McLuhan educated us all about the power of television and, ultimately, computers - and how they would someday connect us. He’s the subject of this edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)
With the world in crisis, in a scattered, work-from-home mode, we’re also watching from home. Years ago, in challenging times, late night TV became our "cultural glue," as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2001)
Many decades ago, in the midst of another period of turmoil and uncertainty, concerned citizens and artists took their cameras into the streets to document real life. (Produced in 2011)
Sviatoslav Richter was born in March 1915 - and he was an astonishing, original, non-conforming, charismatic, mesmerizing pianist, says WNYC's Sara Fishko, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2005 and updated in 2015)
As you may have noticed, says WNYC’s Sara Fishko, the new production of West Side Story has sharply divided the critics, who’ve been using a range of adjectives to describe it - from “gutsy and exhilarating” to “infuriating!” When the show was brand new, in 1957, the creators then, too, awaited the reviews. The late Arthur Laurents, who wrote the original, is the guest for this edition of Fishko Files.
The Whitney's new show Vida Americana reveals the impact of Mexico’s revolutionary art of the '20s on American realism - and it has WNYC's Sara Fishko thinking about one of Mexico’s most radical composers of that period. More in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002) Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945 continues through May 17.
David Lang’s one-act opera The Loser tells the story of two fictional piano students - both Glenn Gould wannabes - whose lives are turned upside down by their idolatry and frustration. Just before the work’s premiere in 2016, WNYC’s Sara Fishko spoke to Lang for this Fishko Files. David Lang's The Loser has just been released digitally and on CD.
This Sunday will mark 70 years since a speech by Senator Joseph McCarthy cranked up America's post-World War II, anti-Communist crusade - and set in motion something known as McCarthyism. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this episode of Fishko Files.
One of the most eccentric and interesting artistic partnerships of the 20th century, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, was the collaboration between the composer Virgil Thomson and the writer and poet Gertrude Stein. Together, the two were instrumental in inventing American opera. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's production of The Mother of Us All, 100 years after the 19th amendment, begins Saturday, February 8, with four performances through February 14. Tha...more
As the Met Opera's production of Porgy and Bess enters its final weeks, WNYC's Sara Fishko sorts through the long, checkered history of the piece in this archival Fishko Files - produced during the polarizing 2012 Broadway revival. Porgy and Bess continues at the Met Opera through February 15.
Coming up in two weeks: New York Fashion Week! From WNYC’s Sara Fishko is this archival Fishko Files, with a little history.
It's forty years since Stanley Kubrick's The Shining showed us just what the remarkable Steadicam could do to our perception and sense of movement. This archival Fishko Files tells the story of its invention, the product of an unlikely obsession by a frustrated cameraman on a mission to perfect! (Produced in 2016)
It's been 95 years since the death of Ferruccio Busoni - a complicated, underappreciated musical genius whose pianism, compositions, and ideas, says Sara Fishko, deserve better! (Produced in 2012)
The holiday season brings out the best in Baroque music. One of the best of the best is Bach's remarkable Chaconne, whose story is told by WNYC's Sara Fishko in this Fishko Files classic from 2003.
Since early fall, a corner of the Whitney Museum has been devoted to the sounds, thoughts, and visions of the jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran. As the year turns, the show goes into its final days. More from WNYC's Sara Fishko, in this edition of Fishko Files. Jason Moran's show at the Whitney closes on January 5, with final jazz performances by Tiger Trio on January 3 & 4.
2020 will mark 60 years since the debut of Hitchcock's Psycho - the film that made explicit what had only been suggested by the post-WWII genre of film noir. This Fishko Files with Eddie Muller was recorded years before his ascent to TCM's master commentator on the genre. (Produced in 2004)
The film Marriage Story starts streaming on Netflix today. It was in December 1979 that another well-acted, thoughtful film about divorce opened to mostly raves for its writer-director, Robert Benton - who is Sara Fishko's guest on this edition of Fishko Files. Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart, and many other Benton films are available on Amazon. 'Kramer vs. Kramer' vs. 'Marriage Story' by Jourdain Searles (Nov 12, 2019) Screen: 'Kramer vs. Kramer' by Vincent Canby (Dec 19, 1979)
“Heart and Soul,” a 1930s song of modest melody and lilting rhythm, occupies a special place in the culture of piano-playing. Without its lyrics - with just its simple, jaunty tune - it’s become an iconic American tradition, especially at the holiday season's social gatherings. Why? WNYC’s Sara Fishko meditates on the mysteries of a popular tune. (Produced in 2006)
In the days following September 11th, television united Americans as it had few times before. In this special edition for On the Media, WNYC's Sara Fishko takes us back to November 22nd, 1963 - the Friday before Thanksgiving, when the medium was feeling its way, for the first time, through a devastating tragedy. (Produced in 2001)
This weekend, Film Forum kicks off a 13-film festival celebrating the actor and filmmaker Lee Grant. In the prime of her career - her "ingénue years," as she calls them - she was blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, rendering her unemployable in Hollywood. She spoke to WNYC's Sara Fishko in 2014 about those years, and the bizarre circumstances of her return to stardom. (Produced in 2014) Lee Grant: Actor. Filmmaker. begins at Film Forum on Saturday, November 17 and conti...more
World War I presented civilization with unprecedented violence and destruction. The shock of the first modern, “industrial” war extended far into the 20th century and even into the 21st, and changed how people saw the world and themselves. And that was reflected in the cultural responses to the war – which included a burgeoning obsession with beauty and body image, the birth of jazz, new thinking about the human psyche, the Harlem Renaissance, Surrealism...and more. WNYC's Sara Fishko and guests...more
World War 1 officially ended in 1919, and as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, its impact on art and culture during and after the war can still be felt. One early response to the war came from artists searching for a way to express their shock. More, in this edition of Fishko Files. Next Thursday, November 7 at 7pm, Sara Fishko will be live in The Greene Space with "Shell Shock 1919: How the Great War Changed Culture." Guests include MoMA's Ann Temkin. Tickets are available now. Tune into WNYC next S...more
With Halloween looming, WNYC's Sara Fishko relates the story of "Isle of the Dead" - a dark, mysterious 19th century painting that captivated a whole generation. More in this episode of Fishko Files. Fishko Files with Sara Fishko Assistant Producer: Olivia BrileyMix Engineer: Wayne ShulmisterEditor: Karen Frillmann
This Monday, the Guggenheim Museum celebrates 60 years since the opening of its arresting Frank Lloyd Wright building on Fifth Avenue. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, the building and New York had much to offer each other. On October 21 and throughout the rest of the month, the Guggenheim features music, tours, and conversations to commemorate the anniversary.
For decades, Dodsworth has been one of William Wyler's underappreciated films, despite Walter Huston's Oscar-winning performance and the familiarity of the material; it began as a Sinclair Lewis novel and had a life as a Broadway play as well. However - underappreciated no longer! Dodsworth will be shown at the New York Film Festival tonight, Thursday, October 10, in a "gorgeous" (NYFF's word) restoration screening. Sara Fishko extols the film's many virtues in this Fishko Files. (Originally pro...more
Filmmaker Shirley Clarke was born October 2, 1919. Her groundbreaking, atmospheric films - "Portrait of Jason," "The Cool World," and "The Connection," among others from the 1950s and '60s - are being shown digitally on the Criterion Channel, and theatrically at Film Forum all this month. (Produced in 2013)
The legendary jazz musician Chet Baker, born in 1929, has long been a subject of fascination for filmmakers, biographers, and musicians. In this archival Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko considers the mystique around horn players - and Baker in particular.
We're coming up on the birth anniversary of the brilliant Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (1932-1982). It was Gould's strikingly original take on the music of Bach that brought him great acclaim. In this archival piece made for Studio 360, Sara Fishko asked then-current Bach pianists about Gould's influence. (Produced in 2002)
The death on Monday of the photographer Robert Frank sent us back to this short Fishko Files, made from an interview taped at Frank’s Bleecker Street studio in 2009. Called “pivotal” by The New York Times this week's obituary, Frank is widely credited with having changed the direction of photography with his book The Americans, which liberated documentary photographs from a formal and formulaic style. Here, Frank talks about freelancing in New York in the years leading up to his celebrated book....more
Soon after the events of September 11, a long-awaited book of jazz photography by the late Roy DeCarava was published and received by a changed world. WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to DeCarava, who died 10 years ago this fall, about the joys and sorrows of the human condition. (Produced for Studio 360 in 2001) Photographs from DeCarava's book The Sound I Saw are on display at David Zwirner in two exhibitions opening tomorrow, September 5.
Charles Boyer, the movie star from Hollywood's golden age and beyond, was born August 28, 1899. His romantic accent, continental style, and clever use of his own "French-ness" kept him working in American films for decades. More from Sara Fishko in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2008)
In the last gasp of summer, there's still time to catch some outdoor music. In this Fishko Files, a taste of live jazz captured on tape in Germany after WWII, featuring some great American artists - and available on CD, to listen to indoors or out. (Produced in 2013)
This weekend, American composer Philip Glass travels east to perform two programs at East Hampton’s Guild Hall. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this Fishko Files, Glass’s travel overseas – much further east, to Paris in the ‘60s – was central to his music, as he encountered a pair of powerful influences. (Produced in 2017) Listen to "An Hour with Philip Glass" here. (Produced in 2006) Philip Glass: Works for Piano, Programs A and B runs at Guild Hall this Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August...more
It's August - when the analysts, psychologists, and therapists leave town. For those who may miss them, here is this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002)
Victor Herbert's modern, modest song of 1919 continues to enchant musicians to this day. WNYC's Sara Fishko tells the story in this archival edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2017)
A new, massive book of Jim Marshall photographs comes out next month. His earlier volume of jazz images inspired this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2017)
With temperatures in New York soaring to 90 degrees and above this week, we bring you this archival Fishko Files. WNYC’s Sara Fishko explores the masterful Gershwin tune and the many ways its interpreters say “summer.” (Produced in 2001)
2006 was a big year for biopics. In this Fishko Files produced that year, Sara Fishko and guests ponder the art of recreating people we know very well - on stage or screen. (Produced in 2006)
On this American holiday, Sara Fishko visits with players from one of the great American orchestras, the New York Philharmonic, to "deconstruct" a symphonic performance, piece by piece. The fireworks (!) come at the end - when they're all playing together. (Produced in 2004)
It's 55 years since Marshall McLuhan's book Understanding Media suggested the media were "extensions of man." McLuhan's ideas about media, globalization, and cultural upheaval made him a star and a prophet in the 1960s, even if many were barely able to grasp their meaning. We try, in this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)
In June of 2014, the celebrated musician Glenn Dicterow was just about to retire from the New York Philharmonic after many decades of playing first violin with the orchestra. The concertmaster spoke with WNYC’s Sara Fishko about the musical tightrope he walked daily as the orchestra’s first violinist. (Produced in 2014)
Tomorrow in Manhattan, a film festival opens in honor of the late movie critic Pauline Kael, born 100 years ago this month. A film festival - for a critic? WNYC's Sara Fishko has more in this episode of Fishko Files. "Losing It at the Movies: Pauline Kael at 100" runs at Quad Cinema tomorrow, June 7 through Thursday, June 20. David Denby is a critic and staff writer for The New Yorker. Peter Rainer is the film critic at the Christian Science Monitor and author of "Rainer on Film: Thirty Years of...more
It’s the Liberace centenary! He was born in May of 1919. WNYC’s Sara Fishko ponders the pianist’s gifts and his impact in this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2013)
The 2019 season of free Shakespeare in the Park gets underway this week. In honor of that great New York tradition, WNYC's Sara Fishko considers the infinite variety of voices that have squeezed every vocal drop out of the Bard's most celebrated soliloquy. (Produced in 2012)
Tomorrow is the birthday of the beloved composer Erik Satie, he of the celebrated Gymnopedie No. 1 and lesser-known "Furniture Music." A few years ago, Fishko Files noted the 150th birth anniversary of the eccentric fellow, with this piece. (Produced in 2016)
In our unsettled cultural moment, we're drowning in content - with 49 new movie releases this month alone, from the romantic comedy "Long Shot" to the zombie film "Dead Trigger." What can we know from one year's movies? WNYC's Sara Fishko considers some of the films of another unsettled year - 1959. Fred Kaplan's book, "1959: The Year Everything Changed" is available on Amazon.
The theremin, a remarkable musical instrument with a unique sound, was invented in 1919 (or 1920, according to some) - and its story includes science, artistry...and espionage. More, in this archival episode of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002)
Creative women, married to gifted men, have often faced obstacles to finding the spotlight themselves. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this episode of Fishko Files, that story is coming to us through some cultural offerings this spring. Fosse/Verdon is on demand on FX and airs Tuesday nights Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving runs at the Brooklyn Museum through May 12. Lee Krasner: Living Colour opens at the Barbican Art Gallery in London on May 30 and runs through September 1. The acco...more
The pianist Vladimir Horowitz died 30 years ago in 1989. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this edition of Fishko Files, Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein - opposites in many ways - were the reigning stars of classical piano in the middle of the 20th century. (Produced for the Horowitz centenary in 2003).
Starting in April of 1939, a generation of New Yorkers - as well as visitors from all over - were treated to a spectacular World's Fair. The theme was "The World of Tomorrow," and as Sara Fishko tells us, the futuristic buildings and visionary exhibits held special promise for Depression-era Americans. (Produced in 2009)
Pictures and sound are often better together. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, newly restored documentaries have emerged that feature Aretha Franklin and Thelonious Monk, and the films very simply and powerfully show us those musicians in action. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. Amazing Grace opens Friday, April 5 at several theatres in New York. Monk + Monk in Europe opens Saturday, April 6 at Metrograph.
It's 65 years since the notorious Broadway flop Golden Apple spawned a gorgeous, offbeat hit by composer Jerome Moross, with lyrics by John Latouche. "Lazy Afternoon" broke out of its inauspicious surroundings and became a familiar standard for jazz vocalists. In this archival Fishko Files: an appreciation of Moross's genre-crossing work. (Produced in 2013)
So much of the art created by Andy Warhol is familiar, and as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, we think we know all about him. But a major retrospective of Warhol's vast body of work is almost over at the Whitney Museum - only 10 more days to see it - and it opens our eyes. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again continues at the Whitney through Sunday, March 31. Lynne Tillman's latest release American Genius, A Comedy is available now. Tony Scherman's book Po...more
In 1959, a British-made series was in full swing on American TV. So was the Hollywood Blacklist. Sara Fishko has the story of how the two came together. (Produced in 2010)
March is Women's History Month, a perfect time for this archival Fishko Files - in which Ms. Sara Fishko relates the twists and turns in the story of the honorific "Ms." and how it finally broke through. (Produced in 2012)
Often, dramatic biographical movies about artists can't help but strike a false note. After all - you don't get to see much art being made. WNYC's Sara Fishko points to one film - a documentary - that actually fills the screen with art in progress. (Produced in 2000) Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1956 documentary The Mystery of Picasso plays at Film Forum March 1-7.
It's 70 years since Oscar Peterson's U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall. Not only that, but we're coming up on the centenary of Nat 'King' Cole. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, the two musicians knew - and listened - to each other. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. Six star pianists pay tribute to Oscar Peterson Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Nat 'King' Cole's centenary celebrations start March 5 with BMCC Tribeca's Scenes Through the Cinema Lens, followed...more
As Lincoln's birthday gives way to Presidents' Day, Fishko Files takes you back to the 1930s, when a remarkable partnership between culture and politics sought to inspire a population weakened by the Great Depression. Through movies, music, literature, and drama, America looked back to Lincoln. (Produced in 2017) Thomas Doherty is a cultural historian, professor of American Studies at Brandeis University, and author of Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. John Bodna...more
The much praised and multi Oscar-nominated film Roma is about the work and home life of a housekeeper in Mexico City. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, that film recalls a moment in Italy in the 1940s - when movies looked for inspiration in the everyday. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. Rome, Open City (1945), Bicycle Thieves (1948), and The Naked City (1948) are available to rent or buy on Amazon.
Jonas Mekas died at 96 last week after a distinguished, anti-conventional life in movies that began many decades ago in New York. In this archival Fishko Files, Mekas considers, for a very short time, his work with Andy Warhol on a very long film - Empire.
Elaine May was honored, some years ago, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center - and she actually showed up (rare). What's more, Mike Nichols showed up to join her. Sara Fishko was lucky enough to be there, that night, and this Fishko Files is the result. (Produced in 2006) The film series ELAINE MAY begins this week at Film Forum, with May's films screening Tuesdays and Thursdays through February 12. For tickets and more information, visit filmforum.org.
The New York-born songwriter Johnny Green died 30 years ago. His best known song was "Body and Soul," and as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, that tune has charmed and challenged musicians through the ages. More, in this episode of Fishko Files.
60 years ago, in 1959, Dave Brubeck released one of the landmark recordings of the 20th century: Time Out, which played with off-beat time signatures. Our archival piece, Five Four Time, considers unconventional musical time – and its persistent coolness, here in the west. (Produced in 2008)
Despite the persistent rain in New York a few days ago, the usual crowds celebrated New Year's Eve in Times Square, shoulder to shoulder. We are, after all, in this together. When we do things not only together, but in the same key, in the same way, with the same steps, sounds, or movements, it has a particular power. Here is this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2010)
Few people in history had as much access to the great midcentury jazz musicians as W. Eugene Smith - born 100 years ago this week, on December 30, 1918. The famous LIFE magazine photographer left his home and family in a New York suburb and moved to a rundown loft building on 6th Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan’s Flower District. As Smith printed in his darkroom there, the likes of Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, and Sonny Rollins came by to jam and hang out - and Smith captured nearly of all it...more
'Tis the season of great music - especially Baroque music. This Fishko Files zooms into an extreme close-up of one of J.S. Bach's most popular and memorable violin pieces. (Produced in 2003)
With an adaptation of Network on Broadway, here is this archival Fishko Files on its mad-as-hell screenwriter and creator, Paddy Chayefsky. (Produced in 2006)
Robert Frank's The Americans was published in France in 1958, came to America in 1959, and is said to have changed everything for the art of photography. Frank is our guest in this archival edition of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2009)
80 years ago, in 1938, clarinetist and bandleader Artie Shaw recorded an arrangement of the Cole Porter tune "Begun the Beguine," and in an instant it rose to the top of the charts - which, as far as Shaw was concerned, was a very mixed blessing. More, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2010)
Toward the end of this Leonard Bernstein centennial year, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, there's yet another landmark to celebrate: 75 years since the young Bernstein dazzled the world with his New York Philharmonic conducting debut. To mark the occasion: this archival Fishko Files.
A new photo book out this week, Art Kane: Harlem 1958, celebrates the famous "Jazz in Harlem" photo created 60 years ago. The book features the contact sheets, quotations, and biographies behind the beloved picture, telling its story frame by frame. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, one player in the picture's drama still remembers the day it was made. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. The book Art Kane: Harlem 1958, is out now from the Wall of Sound Gallery. The National Jazz Museum in Harle...more
Ida Lupino (1918-1995) was a film business pioneer - a tough but tender actress who turned herself into a movie director, having been only the second woman to be inducted into the Director's Guild in 1950. In honor of her centenary, commemorated by Film Forum with a Lupino film festival, we bring you a Fishko Files meditation on her life and work. (Produced in 2010) Ida Lupino 100 runs at Film Forum Friday, November 9 through Thursday, November 22. For tickets and information, visit their websit...more
As the new "A Star is Born" continues to hold steady at the box office (#2!), this archival Fishko Files considers the world of movie remakes. As Sara Fishko tells us, they keep on coming - for good or ill. (Produced in 2004) Since the production of this episode in 2004, director Jonathan Demme has died.
New York-born master filmmaker Alan Pakula died just 20 years ago in an auto accident. Pakula produced "To Kill a Mockingbird" and directed "Sophie's Choice," among many others. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this edition of Fishko Files, some of his films are not getting old - they're getting new. Amy Taubin is a film critic and contributing editor for Film Comment and Sight & Sound. Matt Zoller-Seitz is the Editor-at-Large for RogerEbert.com and a TV critic for New York Magazine.
Historians can't seem to nail down an exact date for the birth of African-American composer Scott Joplin, but they think he was born between 149-150 years ago, probably in November 1868. This Fishko Files invites his biographer Edward Berlin to consider Joplin's life, and offers a taste of his now-celebrated work, from "Maple Leaf Rag" to "Treemonisha." (Produced in 2011)
Jazz great Thelonious Monk was famous for his unorthodox approach, both at the piano and in his personal style. Even now, on his 101st birth anniversary, listening to Monk can be habit-forming – as well as life-changing – according to pianist Jason Moran. (Produced in 2007) A forthcoming book on Jason Moran, in conjunction with the exhibition Jason Moran at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, is due out October 23 and is available for pre-order.
It's 65 years since the launch of Playboy Magazine in 1953. In this Fishko Files, an excerpt from the podcast The United States of Anxiety, Episode 4. WNYC's Sara Fishko tells the story of how, about halfway through the 20th century, Hugh Hefner's Playboy contributed to "men's liberation." To hear the full episode, visit The United States on Anxiety.
French filmmaker Jean Vigo's short life contained enough drama for dozens of movies. Vigo - who died at 29 - only made a few, and by now every frame he shot and directed is considered gold. More, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011) At Film Forum, continuing through next Tuesday, October 2, The Complete Jean Vigo features new restorations of Vigo's films. For tickets and showtimes, visit their website.
Fifteen years ago, in the fall of 2003, the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in downtown Los Angeles after a protracted struggle over money, design, and politics. WNYC's Sara Fishko was in LA for the hall's debut - and returned with this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2003)
The songwriter/actor/singer Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981) began his musical career working as a piano player at a fraternity dance in 1918. He went on to write and perform countless classic tunes. Carmichael was also a familiar figure, usually spinning out stories while sitting at an upright piano, in some high-profile Hollywood films. WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to musicians about him for this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002)
Many decades after Marilyn Monroe's death in August of 1962, her image - often imitated, but never quite duplicated - is still everywhere. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)
The days of summer are numbered, but, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, a notable Whitney Museum summer exhibit will be on view for another month. More, in this edition of Fishko Files. History Keeps Me Awake at Night is on at the Whitney through September 30. For tickets and more information on David Wojnarowicz, visit the Whitney online. The Whitney will present three performances of Wojnarowicz's multimedia work ITSOFOMO (In the Shadow of Forward Motion) this month, as well as a screening of th...more
This week, we feature both Leonard Bernstein, that great composer-conductor-writer-teacher, born in August 100 years ago, as well as Glenn Gould, that remarkable pianist-thinker-arranger-writer, born 86 years ago this September. These two had a rocky collaboration in 1962, the story of which is told by Sara Fishko in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2006)
In 2000, after recording five members of the New York Philharmonic recalling their former, beloved music director, Leonard Bernstein, Sara Fishko felt she had nothing to add to their very specific, compelling memories - except music, perhaps. Here are the orchestra players in this archival Fishko Files, in honor of the much-celebrated, long-anticipated Bernstein centenary. (Produced in 2000) Leonard Bernstein was born on August 25, 1918. Featured in this piece are Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster; ...more
Andy Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, and 'dreamt himself' out of his Pittsburgh childhood into his extraordinary celebrity life. Sara Fishko and guests consider how Warhol's own fandom figured into his self-creation, in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2001)
Music producer Hal Willner presents a free outdoor concert tomorrow night, featuring the work of one of his favorite composers, Nino Rota. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, Willner's musical life began while LPs were still spinning out a rich musical menu. More, in this edition of Fishko Files. Lincoln Center Out of Doors presents Hal Willner's Amarcord Nino Rota, as well as Rota's scores from the first two Godfather films, tomorrow, July 27. The new release of Amarcord Nino Rota is now available ...more
It's 75 years since the publication of one of author James M. Cain's major claims to fame: Double Indemnity, the crime novel that was adapted by Raymond Chandler for the celebrated film directed by Billy Wilder. Guests Eddie Muller and David Madden help Sara Fishko sort out the impact of Cain's style in this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2011)
It's 125 years this year since the birth of classical guitar virtuoso Andres Segovia in Linares, Spain (1893). Segovia's sound, technique, phrasing, and choice of repertoire changed the face of the instrument. He also changed the career of guitarist Eliot Fisk, the guest on this edition Fishko Files. (Produced in 2002)
Henry Butler, the extraordinary New Orleans pianist, arranger and composer, died Monday of cancer. Butler, blind from infancy, began studying piano as a child, playing classical music. He said he switched to jazz because it relied less on printed notes - though he was fluent in every piano style. He studied with musician Alvin Batiste, whom he considered a mentor, and was also a student of two pioneer New Orleans pianists: Henry Roeland Byrd, known as "Professor Longhair," and James Booker, know...more
Some of the wittiest, most sophisticated comedies of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us, were directed by Ernst Lubitsch - who was the idol of his fellow directors during Hollywood's Golden Age. A new book aims to re-introduce us to his films. More, in this episode of Fishko Files. Joseph McBride's book How Did Lubitsch Do It? is available now from Columbia University Press and on Amazon.
In honor of summer, the season for great outdoor music of many kinds, this archival Fishko Files considers the combined forces of jazz and classical musicians, and their efforts - dating back to almost the moment jazz appeared - to make harmonious combinations of both styles. (Produced in 2010 on the occasion of the debut of "Swing Symphony" by Wynton Marsalis)
It’s 65 years since film composer Miklós Rózsa composed his violin concerto, written in response to Jascha Heifetz's request. In honor of Rózsa's command of both movie music and classical composition, here's this archival Fishko Files. (Produced in 2000)
This week, our thoughts turn to a behind-the-scenes Serbian cinematic poet whose contribution to film fit in between the major scenes of Golden Age Hollywood movies. Sara Fishko, with commentary by the late film critic Andrew Sarris, considers the master of the old-school "montage," Slavko Vorkapich.
It’s nearly 20 years since the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition created a “spin-off”: The Van Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition, a formidable contest for certified non-professionals. Sara Fishko went to visit the Cliburn in Fort Worth, Texas, and this Fishko Files on practice is the result. (Produced in 2000) The next edition of the Cliburn Amateur competition will be held in 2020.
The Russian-born composer Sergei Rachmaninoff died in the spring of 1943, 75 years ago, in Beverly Hills. In this archival edition of Fishko Files, three concert pianists celebrate the beauty and the alarming technical difficulty of this Russian musician's compositions - as well as his own spellbinding piano playing. With Ruth Laredo, Earl Wild, and Misha Dichter. (Produced in 2001)
The acclaimed film editor Anne V. Coates died yesterday at the age of 92. Born in England in 1925, Coates began training as an editor in the late 1940s and went on to work in Hollywood with numerous renowned directors including David Lean, Steven Soderbergh, and Sidney Lumet. In addition to her Oscar win for "Lawrence in Arabia" (1962), Coates received scores of BAFTA and Oscar nominations for her work on films like Erin Brockovich, The Elephant Man, Becket, Murder on the Orient Express, In the ...more
This weekend, the Museum of Modern Art celebrates a new book on the incomparable Andy Warhol and his film Chelsea Girls with 10 days of related screenings. In this archival Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko leads us through another Warhol book - one that traces Andy's ritual of daily walks through Manhattan. (Produced in 2011) The Chelsea Girls Exploded begins at MoMA Friday, May 4 and continues through Sunday, May 13. Andy Warhol's New York City: Four Walks, Uptown to Downtown is available on Am...more
In 1918, Arnold Schoenberg founded the Society for Private Musical Performances with the aim of making new music, excellently played, available to the then-modern audience. In this archival Fishko Files, composer and author Allen Shawn reflects on his own efforts, in his book Arnold Schoenberg's Journey, to demystify the composer himself for our own era. (Produced in 2002)
The documentary Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes has its premiere Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival. In the course of talking about the history of the label, musicians in the film muse more generally about the art of jazz and the nature of improvisation. In this archival Fishko Files, Oscar Peterson, Bill Charlap, and others try to describe the indescribable. (Produced in 2003)
The movie The Big Clock was released in April of 1948, adapted from a book by the radical, Depression-era poet Kenneth Fearing. As WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us, Fearing’s work zeroed in on advertising and media long before it was the thing to do. In honor of poetry month: this edition of Fishko Files. Jeanine Basinger is the Chair of Film Studies at Wesleyan University and the author of numerous books and articles on film. Geoffrey O'Brien is the author of Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and...more
American pianist Van Cliburn (1934-2013) will forever be remembered for one phenomenal Cold War moment. Everyone knew the 23-year-old from Texas was good, but no one expected him to steal the show in Moscow 60 years ago. (Produced in 2008)
60 years ago in 1958, Johnny Mandel's score for the film "I Want to Live" used jazz to play under (and sometimes over) the grim story of an execution. Mandel and others tell us more about jazz scores in movies and TV, in this archival episode of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2008)
The opening of Angels in America on Broadway this weekend will start another chapter in the play's history. And, as WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this Fishko Files, the history of that play is the subject of a new book, created in a good old tradition. Angels in America opens on Broadway this Sunday, March 25. The World Only Spins Forward, Robert Altman: An Oral Biography, and Edie: American Girl are available now on Amazon. Thanks to Pacifica Radio Archives for archival material.
With a new Arthur Miller documentary premiering on HBO next week, we turn to Alex North. North wrote, among many other things, the modest musical score for the first production of Death of a Salesman, which kicked off his composing career - and also earned him the lifelong admiration of the playwright. (Produced in 2012) Our interviewee and North's good friend, composer and teacher George Burt, died in 2015. Arthur Miller: Writer premieres Monday, March 19 on HBO.
It’s been 10 years since film composer Leonard Rosenman died, at age 83. He won Oscars for his adaptations of existing music for movies such as Barry Lyndon (1975) and Bound for Glory (1976), but these days it's Rosenman’s own original scores that are remembered for their arresting modernism. George Burt – interviewee in this piece and film composer, author, and friend of Rosenman – died in 2015. (Produced in 2008)
Awards nights are glamorous and tense, celebratory and possibly disappointing. But Sara Fishko talks to Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winners and asks - what's it like when you actually do get the prize? (Produced in 2001)
A new CD showcases the two-piano collaboration of two star soloists. WNYC's Sara Fishko has more, in this edition of Fishko Files. Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring & Other Works for Two Pianos Four Hands is available on iTunes and Amazon. On March 1, Carnegie Hall presents an evening of live two-piano performances by Daniil Trifonov and Sergei Babayan, with music by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, and others. (Zankel Hall)
As national attention is focused on the Obama portraits this week, we offer this archival Fishko Files on portraits of a less “official” variety. (Produced in 2007)
A Brooklyn concert next Friday will honor the American composer John Corigliano on his 80th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to the prolific creator of classical and film music in his Manhattan studio, for this edition of Fishko Files. The Brooklyn venue National Sawdust presents John Corigliano @ 80 next Friday, February 16th. Visit National Sawdust's website for tickets and more information.
In 1938 on the eve of World War II, a boxing match played out powerfully against world events, as two men battled in the ring for an audience of millions. The fight, says Sara Fishko’s guest, writer David Margolick, represented the pride of a race and the principles of a nation - in a deeply divided America. (Produced in 2005)
This week, the 2018 Oscar nominations were announced. In this archival Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko considers the many ways movies portray the sometimes treacherous world of filmmaking itself. (Produced in 2004)
On January 18, 1958, the first Leonard Bernstein "Young People's Concert" was broadcast live on television. Through the 1960s, the programs took off and were seen in 40 countries, alongside American exports "The Flintstones" and "Bonanza." WNYC's Sara Fishko considers Bernstein's TV-friendly presence, in this episode of Fishko Files. Leonard Bernstein at 100 celebrates the centenary of Bernstein's birth with global events through 2019.
One solution to the overwhelmingly big issues that now preoccupy us all is a brief escape into something very small. Just for a few minutes. With that in mind, here is this Fishko Files on a tiny piece of music written, in 1900 or so, about an even tinier flying creature. (Produced in 2014)
The one-of-a-kind jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks died this past November at 96. We were fortunate to have had a brief encounter with him: This Fishko Files, with Sara Fishko and Hendricks in the studio together, originally produced in 2011.
A couple of events in New York have WNYC's Sara Fishko considering the fervent work of an art curator and a rock critic - in this edition of Fishko Files. Pursuing the Unpredictable: The New Museum 1977-2017 continues through Sunday, January 7. New Museum 235 Bowery New York, NY 10002 How to Be a Rock Critic opens at the Public Theater on Friday, January 5. Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. New York, NY 10003 Marcia Tucker's A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World is availa...more
A film based on a true story about secrets, lies, and Washington, D.C. is just about to open in select theatres. It has WNYC's Sara Fishko considering some other films, facts, and fantasies that have been building up for years - in this edition of Fishko Files. The Post opens in select theatres tomorrow, December 22.
This year, Saturday Night Live has boosted its late-night ratings with political satire. But in this Fishko Files, stories of bold prime time politics from Tom Smothers and Larry Gelbart - who managed, at least for a while, to combine war, comedy and family TV. (Produced in 2003)
As we approach winter and 2018, WNYC's Sara Fishko looks back to the winter of 1838, when Chopin and Georges Sand lived through a damp and dismal moment abroad - and lived to write about it. The richly repetitive "Raindrop Prelude," in this Fishko Files. (Produced in 2010)
Starting tomorrow, 25 classic movies by director William Wyler will be screened in New York. In this edition of Fishko Files, WNYC's Sara Fishko picks a couple of favorites. The film series "More Than Meets the Eye: William Wyler" starts tomorrow, December 1, at the Quad Cinema in the Village.
Lalo Schifrin is 85 this year, and his career as a jazz pianist and composer of film and TV scores ("Mission Impossible") has been stellar. WNYC's Sara Fishko talked to Schifrin - who was born in Argentina - about his gift for capturing the American sound. (Produced in 2008) A new CD of Schifrin classical piano works has just been released by fellow Argentinian pianist Mirian Conti on the Grand Piano label. Schifrin: Piano Works is available on Amazon.
It's just 70 years since the House Committee on Un-American Activities began its investigation into "Communist infiltration" in Hollywood. Turner Classic Movies is marking the anniversary this month with films and talks on the subject, including an appearance by Lee Grant - who was Sara Fishko's guest in 2014. Grant talks about her "Blacklist" memoir in this archival episode of Fishko Files. (Produced in 2014) "Spotlight TCM: The Hollywood Blacklist" airs every Monday & Tuesday in November, ...more
As this week's election results show gains for Democrats, minorities and women, WNYC's Sara Fishko recalls Representative Bella Abzug, the powerhouse progressive voice who paved the way. (Produced in 2008)
A sketch for a new piece by 20th century jazz violinist Stuff Smith has surfaced. As WNYC's Sara Fishko tells us in this Fishko Files, it may be a small work, but it's a reminder of Smith's big influence on music. The Stuff Smith concerto can be heard at Le Poisson Rouge this Sunday, November 5. For details on this Composers Concordance concert, visit lpr.com. Jazz violinist Regina Carter performs at NJPAC as part of Ella & Dizzy: The Centennial Celebration on Sunday, November 12. For ticke...more
100 years ago this week, violinist Jascha Heifetz made his American debut. Heifetz set a new standard for mastery of the instrument, but these days even his admirers don’t completely embrace his musical personality and style. In this archival Fishko Files, violinists from Sarah Chang to Itzhak Perlman discuss the impact of this towering performer. (Produced in 2001)