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Meet JFL


Munich-born, raised just south of it, jfl quickly fell in love with music. At age four his father gave him the Bach Passions on tape, meticulously recorded from the radio. Church seemed a fine place to use the voice; at just over four the accordion was added to these musical activities. It didn't lead to much, but it probably was quite a sight to see a big head, two hands barely clasping the sides of the big, red Hohner... two feet dangling beneath. That he could read notes before he could read letters lent (eventually disappointed) hope to the family that he might follow in the footsteps of his harpsichordist Uncle whose vinyls of Scarlatti he grew up on.

The first concert attended, a matinee at the Munich Staatsoper of Bruckner (9th Symphony) and Mozart (K.595) may have left a subconscious impression... although at the time he was primarily fascinated how half the orchestra could leave at intermission and they'd still make beautiful music.

He took up the recorder at five and the piano at six, the two only instruments in which he should gain at least a decent amount of proficiency. In fourth grade the piano teacher - who lived upstairs - decided that he should try out for the Regensburger Domspatzen. Once accepted (only the 14th or so non-Catholic Domspatz at the time), said teacher took him to his first opera, Feuersnot at the Staatsoper. (Heinz Fricke conducted then, as he told me recently. I was too little to remember or care.) The choir in Regensburg was wonderful as far as the singing was concerned, but apart from quitting the recorder since there were no teachers at the Regensburger Domspatzen pre-school in Pielenhofen, the pianistic skills plummeted due to laziness and lack of supervision. Sadly, the combined forces of the boarding school environment, Latin, and Math all but ended his active musical pursuits once he successfully ran away from the school.

This is his favorite recording.
available at AmazonJ.S.Bach, Concertos italiens,
Alexandre Tharaud
Harmonia Mundi

International affairs and political philosophy were on the agenda in college and graduate school. In 2002 the not-for-profit Center for International Relations was founded, half a year later the International Affairs Forum - CIR's on-line journal - was running. Contributes to ionarts since November 2003 (with the first poor effort published in December) - and since then reviewing concerts and classical CDs, giving ionarts a distinctly more music-focused tone. A short stint at the Washington Post added an air of legitimacy to his criticism - though the harpsichord-uncle still insisted (rightly, for European standards) that he was "not qualified." Before its demise, he was interviewing musicians for WGMS 103.5's "Classical Conversations." From 2007 until 2011 he was the Classical Critic-at-Large for WETA 90.9. jfl occasionally writes or has written for Listen Magazine, Opera, Opera Now, Opera Canada, American Record Guide, Fanfare Magazine, Chamber Music America, Musical America et al. Sometimes he squeezes a bit of culture into the pages of (The Noise Police, Gergiev's Propaganda). For his article on Hans Rott ("Madness, Thievery and a Train Full of Dynamite: The Greatest Symphonist Who Never Was") published by Listen Magazine, he won a 2012 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.

He is a musical omnivore, listening with varying delight to anything from Guillaume de Machaut to Jörg Widmann. Bruckner ("a love"), Haydn, and Bach are musical gods - and he has a particular penchant for less famous, unknown or obscure composers; especially late, conservative Romantics. (Richard & Eduard Franck, J. G. Rheinberger, Hans Rott, Egon Wellesz, Hans Gàl, Eric(h) Zeisl etc.) His cantankerous, unenlightened quarreling with Verdi can rankle the most peace-loving Nabucco-enthusiast. He is happy to (try to) answer any and all questions about Mahler ("an addiction"), or pontificate about favorite recordings (beyond the above) if so encouraged.

All views are his own. Decidedly not his employers'.