I was on break from college, and proud to tell dad about my new major. "General Studies in the Humanities" sounded cool to me, but he was less impressed.
While the world was watching for white smoke from the Vatican chimney, the undisputed master of American songwriting in the post-Tin Pan Alley era was himself inducted into an exclusive club. Officials of the American Academy of Arts and Letters announced that Bob Dylan had been elected, the first rocker to make the cut for a stuffy Academy that may be trying to remake its image. (In fact, as the Associated Press pointed out in its story about Dylan's election, "the academy once was designed to keep the likes of Dylan away, shunning everyone from jazz artists to modernist poets. Even now, the vast majority of the musicians come from the classical community, with exceptions including Stephen Sondheim and Ornette Coleman.")
Writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who died last year at the age of 83, loved his regular conversations with NPR host Terry Gross, who many consider the best interviewer in public radio.
Composer, conductor, pianist - Marvin Hamlisch was all those things. But he was, above all, a consummate showman. His death at age 68 leaves a gap because he was one of the few musicians - folks like Wynton Marsalis and John Williams come to mind as his peers - whose musical vocabulary and knowledge were so broad and deep as to welcome new audiences into music in a way that underlined the universality of that unique art.
When audiences come to see the new Bourne movie ( The Bourne Legacy) opening August 10, they'll not only see a new star, Jeremy Renner, but one of America's finest Shakespearean actors.
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