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Welcome to the personal website of conductor Levi Hammer, a musician of remarkable range and versatility who is invigorating the world of classical music today.   Here you can follow Levi's diverse activities, learn about his life, read the latest written by and about him, and stay in touch with him through the web!


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After long languishing on the back of my desk, The Guilty Mother finally got read: it's the least giocoso of Beaumarchais's Figaro Trilogy but delightful nevertheless. The characters are so real, so human! Susanna, Figaro, the Count and Countess...I feel that I know and love them.  And the scandal between The Marriage of Figaro and The Guilty Mother - the brief, furtive affair between Cherubino and the Countess resulting in an illegitimate son - makes them all the more empathetic.  January 11, 2016

As a recreative artist, there's still plenty of room for creativity.  I'm weighing many viable "solutions" to performance problems in the Finale of Act 2 of Le Nozze di Figaro.  Now I need to execute it with complete conviction.  January 4, 2016

Norman Del Mar on Richard Strauss is certainly opinionated!  He calls Salome and Elektra "stage tone poems," and the chapter on Heldenleben is called "The Decline of the Tone Poems"!  December 28, 2015

Kurt Masur's death was made all the more poignant for me by the quote that appeared on his website.  The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi perfectly captures Masur's spirit: Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.  December 21, 2015

Finally reading Zweig's memoirs, and I've started by translating the Goethe poem placed at the top of The World of Yesterday.  A lot of unfamiliar German vocabulary, but it was worth taking a few minutes to crack this nut!  December 14, 2015

I'm learning about Eubie Blake, a late and great manifestation of the ragtime era.  I called Bill Bolcom to discuss the man he considers his "last great teacher," (after Milhaud and Messiaen!)  Bolcom credits Eubie with finally getting him to play with a steady tempo, since he "always had problems rushing.  Eubie would say, 'Use your foot!  Use your foot until you're ready to get away from using your foot!'  Then you've internalized the rhythm."  Blake was probably the greatest practitioner of urban, stride ragtime.  What a personality!...What a pianist!  December 7, 2015

Untangling the knots of King Herod in Salome.  It's amazing how Strauss captured in music the perversity of Wilde's play.  November 30, 2015

Reading Martin Katz's truly complete The Complete Collaborator.  I so wish I had had this treasure trove of practical experience when I started to reduce opera scores, though I suppose I learned something through each painful mistake along the journey.  I think my dogged persistence was only fueled by my love for the art form.  Opera is truly addictive!   November 23, 2015

After confounding me for years, Mahler 7 is finally making sense to me, though in the last movement I still feel like I've been thrown in the middle of a vast Hapsburgian ocean!  November 16, 2015

This has been a charming production of Merry Widow.  Even though we did it in English there's plenty of Viennese whipped cream.  November 9, 2015

Georges Bizet spoke the truth when he said: "Ah, music!  What a beautiful art!  But what a dreadful profession!"  Not dissimilar to Elaine Stritch: "Yeah, well, it's like the prostitute once said - it's not the work, it's the stairs."  November 2, 2015