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Miles Hoffman

Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman is the author of The NPR Classical Music Companion, now in its tenth printing from the Houghton Mifflin Company. Before joining Morning Edition in 2002, Hoffman entertained and enlightened the nationwide audience of NPR's Performance Today every week for 13 years with his musical commentary, "Coming to Terms," a listener-friendly tour through the many foreign words and technical terms peculiar to the world of classical music.

A nationally renowned violist, Hoffman is violist and artistic director of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States and Canada. With the American Chamber Players he has recorded works of Mozart, Bruch, Bloch, Stravinsky, and Rochberg for a series of compact discs produced by the Library of Congress and distributed internationally on the Koch International Classics Label. He has also appeared as a soloist with many orchestras around the country, performing a broad repertoire that ranges from baroque to contemporary compositions, and he has been a featured lecturer for orchestras, universities, chamber music series, festivals, and various other organizations.

Hoffman is a graduate of Yale University and the Juilliard School. In 2003 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Centenary College of Louisiana in recognition of his achievements as a performer and educator.

After winning awards in the National Arts Club and Washington International Competitions, he made his New York solo recital debut in 1979 at the 92nd Street Y, and has since played recitals in many cities in the U.S. and abroad. He gave the first American performance of Krzysztof Penderecki's "Cadenza" for solo viola and the first Washington area performance of the Penderecki Viola Concerto, and he has had works written for him by composers Bruce Saylor, Max Raimi, Roger Ames, and Seymour Barab, among others. In 1982 he founded the Library of Congress Summer Chamber Festival, which he directed for nine years, and which led to the formation of the American Chamber Players.

Hoffman presents children's programs, classes, and master classes in schools and universities around the U.S. when traveling as a soloist and on his tours with the American Chamber Players.

  • As you prepare to feast upon cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and your choice of entree this Thanksgiving, there's also an operatic feast to be had. Classical commentator Miles Hoffman joins NPR's Renee Montagne to take us through a five-course meal.
  • Relatives can be an important ingredient to a successful Thanksgiving. Classical music commentator Miles Hoffman points out some important musical relatives of Mozart, Bach, Schumann and Mendelssohn.
  • Just in time for the change of the season, music commentator Miles Hoffman considers the lingering reputation of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring as the shocker that altered the art world. The work has been called "one of the most daring creations of the modern musical mind."
  • In the spirit of the gift-giving season, classical music commentator Miles Hoffman discusses the fine art of musical patronage. Composers from the renaissance to Beethoven to Copland have benefited from generous philanthropists.
  • Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler were both born on Feb. 2 — Kreisler in 1875 and Heifetz in 1901. But the men share more than just a birthday. Music commentator Miles Hoffman discusses the two fiddlers and how they each set new standards for the art of playing the violin.
  • The organ has been described, along with the clock, as the most complex of all mechanical instruments developed before the Industrial Revolution. Miles Hoffman unravels the complexities and the mysteries of the musical giant.
  • The Juilliard School celebrates the 100th anniversary of its charter, marking a century of preparing fine musicians and performers. The school was the first American institution to rise to the level of its European counterparts.
  • Musician and writer Miles Hoffman says the great composer, born 234 years ago this week in Bonn, Germany, is still revered for his forceful music — and admired for writing a share of it after losing his hearing.
  • September marks the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish settlement in America. Music commentator Miles Hoffman says one way to celebrate is to listen to a new collection from the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music.
  • Bolero is perhaps best known from the 1979 movie 10 soundtrack. But Maurice Ravel didn't strictly have romance in mind when he composed the classic piece, music commentator Miles Hoffman says.
  • Music commentator Miles Hoffman, a nationally renowned violist, and NPR's Steve Inskeep visit the Library of Congress' small, priceless collection of Stradivarius instruments. Hoffman plays some of the rarest instruments in the collection, including a violin called the "Betts," crafted in 1704 by Antonio Stradivari.
  • Carroll Musical Instrument Rentals is a a huge warehouse in New York City that rents all types of exotic bells, whistles, and acoustic effects to orchestras, movie studios and musicals across the country. Hear commentator Miles Hoffman and NPR's Bob Edwards as they take an audio tour of the warehouse.