No sooner did I name Valentina Lisitsa as the pianist with the million-most hits on Youtube than a colleague helpfully pointed out she has a release coming up next month on the yellow label.

It could be that DG’s publicists haven’t spotted it yet since the big name on the album is Hilary Hahn, playing fairly obscure sonatas by Charles Ives. But down there in second billing is our Val on piano.

And now that Berlin HQ has read about her Youtube fame on slipped disc, the DG bosses might even bump her up the publicity schedules ahead of Hilary’s twit-famous violin case for an interview or two. You never know.

Hilary Hahn Ives: Four Sonatas Album Cover

The Puccini birthplace at Lucca reopens tomorrow, with more than 1,000 events planned for the next three years – or so the website says. The closure has been prolonged, with no reopening date announced. Now it has been.

Admission tomorrow afternoon is free. You’d better be quick.

(website pic before refurbishment)

Wednesday’s release of a posthumous single, Body and Soul, with Tony Bennett, has triggered another wave of  jabber about the poor girl’s death. Her father Mitch is putting about that she died from ‘detox to excess’.

Tony Bennett is giving interviews about ‘the things I coulda told her’ that might have saved her life.

The scurvy Mail is jabbering on about the size of her estate. Mitch is talking about a drugs foundation.

Joss Stone and Adele want to make a tribute album.

Give the girl a break. Wednesday would have been her 28th birthday. She’s dead. Let It Be.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq make their overseas debut at the Beethoven Fest in Bonn on October 1. Started by a 17 year-old Baghdad pianist, Zuhal Sultan, the band has 33 musicians from all war-torn parts of the country and is conducted by a Scotsman, Paul MacAlindin.

If ever an orchestra needed our support, it’s this one.

Irakisches Jugendorchester | picture-alliance/dpa

photos: dpa

You thought it was Lang Lang, right?

Wrong. Lang Lang scores 1,537,277 views for an early video, Gone Mad, that has been up for about five years. Only two other Lang Lang videos top the million mark.

Another classical pianist repeatedly outscores Lang Lang on youtube.

Her name is Valentina Lisitsa.

Her top hit is Rachmaninov’s G-minor prelude with 1,605,052 views, followed by Etude opus 39/6 with 1,304,978 views, Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata 1,296,475, Chopin’s Etude opus 10/4 at 1,037,627, op 25/4 at 1,238,364  – and that’s without clicking on Für Elise at almost two million.

How does she do it. Val’s a Ukrainian pianist based in North Carolina who has just changed management from Cami to IMG. I first heard her accompanying Ida Haendel in a London recital and was impressed both by her sensitivity and her strength of character.

But how did she get to be #1 on youtube?

No-one knows. Or, if they do, they ain’t telling for fear Lang Lang will try to beat her with Chopsticks.

Well done, Val. We’ll keep watching.


The Gergiev Festival is running this year from September 9 to 18 in Rotterdam, with the main man conducting a Dutch premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sadko and much else.

But four days into the festival, I see the maestro’s gone. According to his online diary, he was due in Bucharest, Rumania, last night and tonight to conduct the Mariinsky orchestra,  then on a Russian tour to Kasnodar, Samara and Sochi, ending in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, on the 19th.
On the 21st, he opens the LSO season in London.
Say what you like about short attention spans, you have to admire the man’s punitive dedication to his profession. There is no pecuniary benefit from playing Bucharest and the Black Sea and precious little political capital to be gained. Gergiev does it for love of the game and, I believe, out of some mystic belief that he is bringing light into darkness. That’s who he is, that’s how he is. Listen here.
The Lebrecht Interview
And if the Dutch feel short-changed, tough.