An intercontinental ballistic missile takes flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 2002. In 1962, the United States would confront the Soviet Union on its missile stockpiles in Cuba, edging the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.

History of Now

'Do You Hear What I Hear?' Conjures Images of Peace Everywhere—and Nuclear Annihilation

Composed at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the classic Christmas song contains another message—one of unity

A previously unknown Thomas Gainsborough portrait of composer Antonín Kammel

Cool Finds

Newly Discovered Gainsborough Portrait Reveals Likeness of Overlooked Composer

The acclaimed British artist's painting of Czech musician Antonín Kammel may be worth upward of $1.3 million

Debate over Beethoven's race sparked once again on Twitter last week. He is depicted here in a portrait by August Klober from 1818.

Was Beethoven Black? Probably Not, but These Unsung Composers Were

A music scholar examines the history of the decades-old theory, and what its permanence tells us about who is considered 'canon' in classical music

A Beethoven monument stands in Vienna's Beethovenplatz.

Following Beethoven’s Footsteps Through Vienna

For the composer’s 250th birthday, visit the apartments where he lived, the theaters where he worked and his final resting place

A Veronese official commissioned the portrait while hosting the young musician and his father during their stay in the city.

Rare Portrait of Teenage Mozart Heads to Auction

"This charming likeness of him is my solace," wrote Pietro Lugiati, the Italian nobleman who commissioned the artwork, in a letter to Mozart’s mother

Hauschka performed at the 35th Munich Filmfest on June 27, 2017, in Munich, Germany.

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

How Composer John Cage Transformed the Piano—With the Help of Some Household Objects

With screws and bolts placed between its strings, the 'prepared piano' offers up a wide range of sounds

This year marks the 333rd anniversary of J.S. Bach's birth

Are Classical Music Performances Speeding Up?

For Johann Sebastian Bach's 333rd birthday, a team looked at recordings of the composer's work over the last 50 years

'The Nutcracker' is performed across North America each Christmas season.

How 1950s America Shaped ‘The Nutcracker’

It took the marketing insight of a Russian choreographer to make it all happen

Chopin at 25, by his fiancée Maria Wodzińska.

Chopin’s Preserved Heart May Offer Clues About His Death

Scientists who recently examined the organ have suggested that Chopin died of complications from tuberculosis

Elmar Juchem, Managing Editor of the Kurt Weill Edition, was able to identify Kurt Weill's manuscript while doing archival work in Berlin.

Composer Kurt Weill's Long-Forgotten “Song of the White Cheese" Discovered in Berlin Archive

Listen to the 1931 ditty, which had gone unnoticed in the collection of a little-known actress

Sousa around 1915, about a decade after he first decried "mechanical music."

John Philip Sousa Feared ‘The Menace of Mechanical Music’

Wonder what he’d say about Spotify

J. Ralph (left) and Sting (right), the night's honorees. Visible in the foreground is Sting's 1978 Stratocaster guitar, which is now a part of the Smithsonian collections.

Acclaimed Musicians Sting and J. Ralph Spread Social Justice Through Song

The Smithsonian honors two composers whose work and philanthropy are inextricably linked

A page from Holst's lost "Folk Songs From Somerset"

Cool Finds

Lost Manuscripts From Composer of “The Planets” Found in New Zealand

No one is sure how the handwritten scores by Gustav Holst ended up in the archives of the Bay of Plenty Symphonia

Glad tidings! There's a new Christmas song in town.

Researchers Found a Long-Lost Christmas Song

"Crown Winter With Green" has some serious archival cred—and a sad story to tell

Cool Finds

Listen to This Holly, Jolly (and a Little Creepy) A.I.-Penned Christmas Song

A neural network at the University of Toronto wrote a holiday ditty based on an image of a Christmas tree

Alaska's yellow-cedar forests are slowly dying as climate change takes root.


This Music Was Composed by Climate Change

Dying forests make magnificently melancholy listening

The hate crime that killed Matthew Shepard was the impetus for a new choral work.

Trending Today

A New Choral Work Was Inspired by the Death of Matthew Shepard

“Considering Matthew Shepard” finds hope inside a story of hate

Avi Avital is the featured performer in "InstaConcerto for Mandolin and Orchestra," a 75-second concerto written for Instagram.

Cool Finds

This Classical Mandolinist Makes Music With...Instagram?

“InstaConcerto for Mandolin and Orchestra” plays with a genre known more for its selfies than its chamber music

Portrait of composer Barbara Strozzi (1581-1644)

These Women Composers Should Be Household Names Like Bach or Mozart

Denied the same opportunities as their male counterparts, women like Lili Boulanger and Clara Schumann found ways to get their work in front of audiences

Ennio Morricone, "Il Maestro"

Travel the World With Ennio Morricone's Evocative Film Scores

Celebrate the maestro's first Oscar with a musical trip across the continents

loading icon