I’ve been having fun on Sinfini with my friend and near-neighbour, Steven Isserlis. Watch.

maisky, isserlis

We are hearing from Milan that the 116 orchestra musicians are divided over who they want to succeed Daniel Barenboim as music director. Our wisp in the wings says it’s currently 61 for Riccardo Chailly and 41 for Fabio Luisi.

Yesterday Alexander Pereira met the orchestra to present his project for La Scala, which was said to include the musical leadership of Riccardo Chalilly as ‘a fundamental asset.’ A resolution is expected in the next few days – though there is no guarantee that either maestro will agree to take the turbulent position.



The vital new collection of Leonard Bernstein letters delivers revelations of the most intimate nature on virtually every page. Here’s my review in Standpoint magazine.


Friends have been telling us about the life and death of Matt Fretton, whose death we reported yesterday. Matt was a boutique agent who devoted his life to managing the careers of Alina Ibragimova, Natalie Clein and two or three others. He never wanted to be big. He just wanted to help artists be themselves.

He knew how because, in the 1980s, he had been a pop star who appeared on the cover of Smash Hits magazine and on the BBC’s Top of the Pops.

matt fretoon smash hits

Matt gave up that world to return to his classical roots. Six months ago, he decided that he’s had enough of being an agent and went back to writing songs and making films, some with his partner, the photographer Sussie Ahlburg. They bought a house together in Suffolk, a country place for quiet contemplation. Then, in August, Sussie drowned while out swimming in Hampstead Pond, apparently of a heart attack. She was 51.

‘Matt could not go on without Sussi,’ says a friend.

The tributes that we hear describe Matt as a deeply sensitive man, remote from the machinations of the music business, attuned to the inner needs of his artists, of his friends, and of his own, dark, inner voice.  He will be widely missed.

Andris Nelsons conducts Beethoven 7

Music director Andris Nelson will not be leaving the city of Birmingham unremembered. Norman Perryman has completed a wall portrait for Symphony Hall to be unveiled next Wednesday. Read the artist’s version here.

photo (c) Norman Perryman/Lebrecht Music&Arts

While we were away, another foundation stone crumbled at the disintegrating artists management firm.

Libby Abrahams, senior VP and director of artist management in IMG Artists’ London office, has taken a walk. ‘The time has come to create a new venture within performing arts management,’ says her side of the statement. Which of her artists will go with her into the unknown?

Her list includes the violinist Sarah Chang; conductors Kristjan Järvi, Claus Peter Flor and Teodor Currentzis; pianist Helene Grimaud (whom she poached from Harrison Parrott) and the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

Libby’s resignation comes a month after conductors’ manager Sara Hunt decided to follow a different beat.

Who’s next?



Many readers have written in to ask what Christian Zacharias did after breaking off his concerto when a cellphone rang. Well, the concert continued. Video of the encore has just been released. The enterprising pianist reaches deep down into his resources – and totally changes the atmosphere. Watch.


In the obituaries section of the East Hampton Star, their local newspaper, Laurie Anderson has posted the following loving notice:

What a beautiful fall! Everything shimmering and golden and all that incredible soft light. Water surrounding us.

Lou and I have spent a lot of time here in the past few years, and even though we’re city people this is our spiritual home.

Last week I promised Lou to get him out of the hospital and come home to Springs. And we made it!

Lou was a tai chi master and spent his last days here being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature. He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees and doing the famous 21 form of tai chi with just his musician hands moving through the air.

Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.

— Laurie Anderson

his loving wife and eternal friend


lou reed marion kalter

November 2012. Photo (c) Marion Kalter/Lebrecht Music&Arts


Here’s a fuller version in the new Rolling Stone.