Home

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!


Levi on Twitter

 

On Levi's Desk

Levi's Latest

I’m immersed in the absolutely perfect sound worlds of the Komische Oper’s production of Petrushka and L’enfant et les sortilèges this week. This is glorious programing at its best.  January 23, 2017

I was called at the last minute to play a Mahler 2 rehearsal at the Konzerthaus for Ivan Fischer, one of my musical and humanist heroes!  Fortunately I know this music well, and the challenge in rehearsal is refrain from weeping during the last two movements. January 16, 2017

I’m saddened by the passing of Rayna Barroll Aschaffenburg, a beautiful person who gave everything of herself to her students. I’m grateful for her friendship and her artistry. January 9, 2017

I’ve been working with the singers of the Berlin chapter of “Opera on Tap.” It’s a fun way of sharing opera and having a great time…all while sipping beer! I’m particularly excited for excerpts from Der Freischütz and I Capuleti e i Montecchi this week. January 2, 2017

I’m using the holidays to rest, and am engrossed in Patti Smith’s memoirs “Just Kids.”  The writing is so beautiful that tears flowed down my face for entire chapters. I can empathize with her early struggles and the sacrifices one has to make for art and beauty.  It also makes me want to immerse myself in more American music of the 60s and 70s…Smith herself and Dylan especially. December 26, 2016

Got called at the last minute appear in a film about Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, the Leningrad. The super cool actor Florian Panzner plays Shostakovich, and I play the hands of Shostakovich!  December 19, 2016

Like a lot of great – and popular – works (Beethoven 5 is the supreme example) Boheme never gets easier. It moves so fast that the slightest lapse in concentration can wreak havoc! December 12, 2016

Am conducting a new production of Boheme with Puccini’s Toaster, a wonderful company here in Berlin. So nice to come back to this old friend of a piece, and with such an awesome cast and creative team.  December 5, 2016

Back from the Gemäldegalerie. My eye always lingers on paintings of musicians.  November 28, 2016

Visit to Charlottenburg Palace. The Watteau paintings were amazing. My obsession with Watteau began simultaneously with my obsession for Verlaine, French poetry and the exquisite art of the French mélodie.  November 21, 2016

A sober visit to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial. Poigant. November 14, 2016

Visited Potsdam and Frederick the Great's music room at Sanssouci where old J.S. Bach improvised on the "royal theme" (devised by C.P.E Bach?) that eventually became the Musical Offering.  November 7, 2016

Back from the Philharmonie, where Simon Rattle and the Philharmonic played an incredible program of Schoenberg, Weber, Berg and Brahms. So great to hear the Berliners put the Second Viennese School in its proper historical and expressive context. October 31, 2016

Am planning a day-long walking tour for Jamie and some friends from Ohio (Rich and Renee Dee.) We’ll start at the Reichstag and gradually make our way down Unter den Linden. Rich and Renee will go to the Komische’s smash hit production of the Magic Flute and Jamie and I will go to a concert performance of Barber’s Vanessa. In some alternate universe I would happily be a tour guide! October 24, 2016

Playing chamber music this week with Berlin Philharmonic principals and my old pal Moky Gibson-Lane. They play every note with SCHWUNG and perfect precision! October 17, 2016

My soul is awash in the sounds of Haitink and the Berlin Philharmonic playing Schubert’s Unfinished and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.  They play Mahler just right: like chamber music.  October 10, 2016

German can be hilarious. I just learned the word “Bauarbeiterdekoltee,” which apparently means “plumber’s crack.” October 3, 2016

Reading “Berlin Now” by veteran German journalist Peter Schneider.  In a city with such a rich history, it’s nice to get an overview of where Berlin and Berliners are today. September 26, 2016

I’m the proud owner of the Rick Steves guidebook for Germany. I appreciate his old-fashioned, American perspective and common sense. September 19, 2016

Moving across the world – even to a sophisticated western country in which I more or less speak the language – can be hard!...and easy to lose perspective. It’s a good thing that I have supportive friends and colleagues on this journey. September 12, 2016

On my desk: Meistersinger!!!  I’m working on the big ensemble scenes.  The “Prügelfuge” at the end of Act 2 is insane.  HOW did Wagner do this? Stravinsky 50 years later seems tame by comparison. I’ve been firmly converted to the cult of Wagner. September 5, 2016

My god, Wagner is formidable. I love the new musical universe that is opening up to me.  I’m reminded of the old adage “nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”  Where did we get the idea that fast = good and slow = bad???  That seems like a very modern idea.  In this case, I have no choice other than to learn Meistersinger (and the universe contained therein) slowly. August 29, 2016

Collaborated in an opera workshop for some cool kids coming to the opera for the first time. We staged a scene from Barbiere and even recomposed a beatbox version of Rossini. Amazing mix of beautiful people from all over the world: Afghanistan, Syria, India, Turkey, Bosnia, Greece, Russia and elsewhere! August 22, 2016

This is a “social media” production of Barbiere with Rosina and the Count communicating via Facebook. “Se il mio nome” was originally conceived in the clichéd popular style of the day, and the Komische Oper has updated it into a modern pop hit. August 15, 2016

It can be easy to dismiss a warhorse like Barbiere. This is my third production, and the ingenious details keep revealing themselves! August 8, 2016

Getting ready for BERLIN!  On my desk: Nine (Nein!!!) operas to learn.  I’d be lying if I didn't admit to being daunted by this.  One note at a time… August 1, 2016

Going through a CCM tradition memorizing all the metronomes of the Beethoven symphonies in preparation for my upcoming comprehensive exams.  The scherzos are the confounding ones! July 25, 2016

Still drilling Mozart recitatives. I'm playing mind games with myself to make the text and music crystal clear in the mind and ear and hands and mouth! July 18, 2016

Working on Mozart recitatives. The text must be firmly in the mind and dripping off the tongue. Le parole in bocca! So much of our work is drilling and contemplating...drilling and contemplating. It's easy to forget to contemplate, but that is the essential part. July 4, 2016

Just read Zweig's novella Chess Story, which I received as a very sweet gift from my lovely Cincinnati friend Atarah Jablonsky, who was born in Jerusalem in 1927. She's a Zweig fan, as am I. Check out her inscription in Hebrew. June 27, 2016