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norman lebrecht

February 12, 2007

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  • Diana McVey says:

    Dear Sir,
    I enjoyed reading your article about Candide and the need for an Overture Protection Society. I am currently in a production of Candide and sadly, our director felt it necessary to stage the overture. Dreadful choice.
    All the best,
    NL: Name and shame him! Diana, you are member #2 of the OPS – best, Norman

  • Dear Norman Lebrecht,
    First may I say how much I enjoy your frank and revealing interviews with musicians – an invaluable insight for music lovers.
    I’ve long appreciated the phenomenal talents of Natalie Dessay, and was mortified to find I’d missed your interview with her last week (21-7-08). Unfortunately it’s not available on the BBC 3 “Listen again” due to the 7-day policy.
    Is there any way I could possibly listen to your Interview – perhaps through an archive system or some other source? I would really appreciate it if you could help me out.
    Kind regards,
    Tony Fell
    University of Bradford,

  • Mark Gould says:

    Just listened to ‘Is this a Record’. Never have I heard such a ‘pantheon’ such awfulness! I’m so glad you put that programme together. Maybe I’m an ‘aesthete’, but it seems that primary reason for recording is to make money, rather than capture artistry in as perfect a form as possible.
    Keep this sort of thing coming – hopefully someone will see how dire it has become with classical art music. And how Jazz/World Music has infiltrated Radio 3 and classical music in general that it is almost politically incorrect to present only western art music in a concert.
    How sad it is to see the only ‘providers’ of broadcast ‘art’ music become either purveyors of insipid aural wallpaper by the yard or stockists of political correctness.
    What happened to astonishing my ears, and not letting them sit back in an easy chair? (forgive me Mr Ives)

  • Margarete Rolle says:

    I enjoyed your programme, Is this a record?
    Well researched, well presented and highly entertaining.
    Margarete Rolle

  • Related to a musicologist says:

    I enjoyed your Scena column on Sir Thomas Beecham, and I’m wondering if you know the provenance of the below anecdote?
    Once, Sir Thomas, son of the founder of Beecham’s Pills, the huge pharmaceutical company, was walking about in one
    of the smaller British towns when he spied a bank. Going in, he said to the teller, “I need some money.” The response
    from the teller was, “Do you have an account with us?” Beecham’s companion immediately said to the teller, “Do you know
    who this is? It’s Sir Thomas Beecham.” The teller, somewhat flustered, excused himself and retired to the bank office.
    When he returned several minutes later, he said, “We are pleased to be able to serve you, Sir Thomas. How much money
    do you want?.” Beecham replied, “How much do you have?”
    John Lucas replies:
    I would say the story is definitely apocryphal. I have seen it in one or two guises, though not precisely this one. Part of the problem is that ‘humorous’ magazines were much given to inventing Beecham stories, knowing that he would never bother to contradict or complain about them

  • Karen Otten says:

    can you do this in reverse?
    suggest what the effect is of certain compositions or composers? one can’t standardize emotional responses, I’m guessing, but if you could take a stab at it, in my case it would be Prokofiev:
    Lt. Kiev, The Gambler Suite, The Classical Symphony, piano and violin concertos. I was a viola performance major in college, in the 1970’s, when I discovered those passions. Only association I can come up with is that my mother, who had been a concert pianist, and who ran a children’s camp in my childhood, had the campers act out Peter and the Wolf in the 1950’s. I’d be curious to know what language you might use to describe the effect of Prokofiev, if something like that could be standardized.

  • Will says:

    I’m sorry that your Evening Standard column no longer appears – I always tried to get hold of a copy on a Wednesday. Your strident style (and classical music coverage in general) is much missed by this reader. Is the future in the blogosphere after all?

  • i.g. sadler says:

    Finzi vs. Mahler
    I hear Finzi as a great writer.
    Mahler as “hack-y”.
    I love Mahler, don’t get me wrong.
    It can work. But please don’t tell me
    he’s a good writer.
    For Mahler to get such huge attention whilst
    Finzi is ignored methinks is the height of injustice.

  • Andrea Lee says:

    Do you know if people from the other side of the stage (conductors and performers) have noted the growing number of people who stampede out of the auditorium as though it were a fire drill immediately after the last note is played? It used to be a few wise-asses who wanted to beat the crush at the coat-check, but last week at the RFH it seems that all of them decided to attend the same concert, and half of the hall spilled out as the orchestra was taking their bows. Surely this is disheartening for a performer? I know one can’t force an audience to applaud what they don’t find worth clapping, but surely one can spare a few minutes out of respect for two hours of hard work. Have you talked to anyone on the performer’s side who has mentioned this?

  • Mike says:

    I have a question about your Song of Names. Did this Song exist? How many of the hundreds of thousands end up on the list?! I can’t find a reference to the existence of this song.

  • John T. Bence says:

    A couple of months ago I heard your interview with Michael Kaiser on BBC3. During the interview you mentioned audience demographics for classical music in France. Could you provide with the source of that information?

  • Scott Peters says:

    You wrote in your review of a recent CD: “If I challenged you to name ten living composers whose music will be played 50 years from now, Gavin Bryars would be among my certainties.”
    Who are the other nine on your list?
    I’ll summarise tomorrow. Meantime, debate raging on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Topher says:

    Thought you might find this interesting: some 1940s non-commercial recordings of The Juilliard Orchestra, including a rehearsal.

  • James "Shoes" Walker says:

    Mr L,
    “Why We’re Still Afraid of Schoenberg”….congrats, I keep goin’ back. As a middle class kid (way old one), it never occured to me that Ahnold the Schoenberg would cultivate the badass philosopher/composer as an image…..
    I was reminded when you play the bad boy, you piss lots of people off. But you only need a minority of people to make you popular…so go for it…

  • Hello Norman,
    Exact Editions is about to release a digital edition of a well-known and loved classical music magazine.
    Would you like to receive the press release on its launch?
    If so, please email me over your email address.
    All the best

  • I enjoyed reading your article about Candide and the need for an Overture Protection Society. I am currently in a production of Candide and sadly, our director felt it necessary to stage the overture. Dreadful choice.

  • Luciano de Castro says:

    This is what lies in store for all OSB musicians who dare to refuse to participate in the re-auditioning process we have been discussing here. I have translated the text below from a facebook note sent by Antonio J Augusto on Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 6:17pm.
    Demissão por justa causa
    [Dismissal due to gross misconduct]
    Hoje, antes mesmo do horário marcado para sua “avaliação de desempenho” o músico Virgilio Arraes Filho, 78 anos, recebeu a seguinte carta da FOSB:
    [Today, even before the time scheduled for his “performance evaluation, Mr. Virgílio Arraes Filho, a seventy-eight-year-old musician, was handed the following letter signed by the OSB Foundation]
    Prezado empregado Virgilio Arraes Filho,
    [Dear employee Virgilio Arraes Filho]
    Serve a presente para comunica-lo que V. Sa. está suspenso do trabalho no dia de amanhã, em virtude do cometimento de falata grave, consistente na sua deliberada recusa a comparecer à avaliação de desempenho previamente agendada para o dia de hoje.
    [This is to inform you that you have been punished with one-day suspension due to a serious offence you have committed: your deliberate refusal to participate in the performance evaluation previously scheduled for today.]
    Sua avaliação de desempenho foi reagendada para o próximo dia 12/3 às 15h10 no Teatro Noel Rosa – UERJ.
    [Your evaluation has been rescheduled to March 12 at 3:10 pm at the Teatro Noel Rosa – UERJ]
    Tendo em vista que V. Sa. já fora advertido por escrito quanto à gravidade do ato de insubordinação praticado, alertamos que a reincidencia em tal falata acarretará a imediata recisão do seu contrato de trabalho por justa causa.
    [Considering that you have already been admonished in writing about the serious nature of such an act of insubordination, we warn you that in the case of recurrence we will act accordingly by signing your immediate dismissal from your job at OSB due to gross misconduct]
    Confiamos na sua compreensão quanto aos presentes termos e em sua presença no compromisso acima agendado.
    [We trust that you understand the content of this warning and that you will be present to the evaluation scheduled above.]
    Rio de Janeiro 10, de março de 2011
    Fundação Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira
    [Rio de Janeiro, March 10, 2011
    Brazilian Symphony Orchestra Foundation]
    Posted by Luciano de Castro

  • harold emert says:

    Dear Norman Lebrecht :
    It is indeed wonderful that you have allowed so much space in your blog for the problems with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra.What is currently happening here in Rio de Janeiro –where I have resided since 1973 and was the first oboe of the orchestra until 1997 or 24 years–resembles unsavoury procedures in the musical world in the 1930s.
    Meaning: firing/sacking musicians just because they have committed the “crime”of getting old or older, calling for re-auditions of veterans despite their long-time experience and survival in the orchestra and encouraging scabs to take the place of discarded musicians.
    What is the worst “crime”in my view,is Maestro Minczuk and the Brazilian Orchestra’s use of the Youth Orchestra to replace the “ÖSB”(Brazilian Symphony) for the first three months of season with some members of the orchestra–who are not rebelling vs. Minzcuk–playing in he first stands of the youth orchestra.
    In the UK and USA ,a court order would probably bar the younth orchestra from taking over the initial part of the season from the professionals. In Rio de Janeiro however(and not necessarily Brazil) anything goes(unfortunately).
    Today,Friday,as I write you Rio’s major newspaper O Globo hasa picture of the musicians who refuse to take the audition awaiting in the front of the Labour Ministry for a reconciliation hearing–which never occurred because neither the Maestro or administration appeared.
    We are living in the epoch of internet which has overthrown dictatorships in the Arab world and hopefully via this same magical communication ,Maestro Minzcuk and his cohorts will receive their proper due if these 58 musicians are sacked.
    Can the unions in the UK,USA,Canada,etc bar Minzcuk from conducting and holding auditions?Can other measures be taken?Our fears here in Brazil are that the draconian measures which have begun in the Brazilian Symphony will spread to all the 56 orchestras in this growing nation,threatening thelivelihood of local musicians.
    Best wishes,
    Harold Emert
    Brazilian National Orchestra

  • ole bohn says:

    Hello ! Could you, please,post this open letter to the subscribers and followers of the OSB ? Best regards, Ole Bohn
    To the subscribers and followers of the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira ( OSB)
    As you know, there is a serious conflict going on in the OSB. Musicians are being forced to reaudition for their jobs and are being humiliated to perform in front of an international jury who supposedly should give them feedback. The problem is that is doesn’t end there. The whole scenario has been orchestrated so that Maestro Minczuk can fire musicians in order to build a new orchestra with members in favor of him. In no other orchestra do members have to reaudition for their jobs. Musicians are constantly being reviewed during rehearsals by colleagues and conductors and not the least by their public. I am very happy that you in the past have subscribed to the concerts of the OSB and I am sure that you have enjoyed what you having been hearing.
    Now a great majority of your musicians risk losing their source of income. They have families to support, rent to be paid etc. Because of actions taken by Maestro Minczuk and his administration they are forced to seek umemployment benefits. What a humiliation to highly qualified musicians !
    The Maestro has substituted the OSB for the OSB Jovem for a great part of the coming season. It is despicable that innocent youth is drawn into this conflict. In any other country it is illegal to substitue anyone for people in conflict. Here we have these young musicians who are dependent on the monthly stipend, youngsters who are inexperienced in life and afraid of protesting. To them to lose the little money they get , is a catastrophy.I think Maestro Minczuk is very well aware of this.
    I appeal to you as subscribers and followers of the OSB to BOYCOT any concerts arranged by the present administration of the OSB and OSB Jovem until this conflict has been solved. Any musician is dependent on its public. Now your beloved musicians of the OSB need your help urgently ! RENOUNCE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND STAY AWAY !
    Best regards,
    Ole Bohn
    Concertmaster Norwegian National Opera
    Professor Sydney Conservatory of Music

  • Michael says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht,
    While the OSB situation is truly a shame, I urge you to consider the old adage that there are three points of view to any story- my side, your side, and what really happened.
    We really aren’t getting any information from the FOSB’s perspective, and I can assure you that they are not the monsters the musicians portray them to be. Very little has been made of the enormous progress the orchestra has seen in the last five years (draw a parallel to argentina- every musician is getting paid, and handsomely at that in light of the opportunities that exist in Brazil), and it seems to me that they are sincere in their express commitment to making the OSB a world class institution.
    While we may question their methods, consider this a request to exercise temperance, and to pursue an objective assessment. Knee-jerk reactions abound in the media, and these merely add fuel to a beloved orchestra that is being consumed. A call for reason by a respected voice such as yours would go a long way towards avoiding a result that nobody wants.

  • Dear Mr. Lebrecht, below is the original text I received from my female trombone student who was threatened as a result of her participation in Rio with the “youth” orchestra. Best, Darrin
    data: 12 de abril de 2011 11:18
    assunto: Ligação Jacques Ghestem
    OI Darrin tudo bem?
    A poucos minutos atrás recebi uma ligação do Sr. Jacques Ghestem ( 021 ) 2205-6055 – ex-primeiro trombone da Petrobras, que foi demitido pelo maestro Roberto Minczuk no final do ano passado. Perguntando-me em quais condições eu fui fazer o cachê e porque eu entrei no palco. Ele me disse que foi um falta de respeito e de ética da minha parte, e que eu não devia ter feito isto pois eu fui contra os meus colegas da classe. E que se eu não me retratar, pedir desculpas pelo o que eu fiz, meu nome será queimado no Brasil inteiro. E que ele não quer fazer isto comigo pois já deu aula pra mim no Festival de Londrina e gostou muito de mim mas a minha atitude no sábado foi imperdoável. Eu não devia ter pisado no palco.
    A conversa começou calma, depois ele foi ficando alterado, alterado… Chamou o maestro Roberto Minczuk de ditador e mais um monte de coisas.
    Ainda estou passada, chocada com tudo isto.
    Joyce Peixoto

  • george brown says:

    Here’s a link to a feel-good story about an American Orchestra that figured out their OWN ‘new business model’ based upon learning from, and acting upon, their own LOCAL Market Research.
    Truly, the keyword here is ‘local.’

  • Esther Schor says:

    Re: Your essay on George Eliot in LitHub.
    You might be interested to know that Emma Lazarus credited George Eliot with awakening her to Zionism; she also dedicated her play about anti-Semitism, “The Dance to Death,” to George Eliot (published in Songs of a Semite, 1882):









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