Roy Harper, who sang lead vocals on Pink Floyd’s Have a Cigar, will appear in a Hereford court today accused of nine counts of sexual assault on a girl between the aged of 12 and 14. The alleged offences took place in the 1970s. Harper is now 72. Presumptions of innocence apply.


UPDATE: Here’s a first report on his court appearance. Harper did not enter a plea to the charges.

The musician has made public a letter he wrote to the Russian leader a month ago. He’s awaiting a reply.


picture: BBC, 2003

Greetings from Japan.

Check out my letter below to President Vladimir Putin which he has not replied to as yet. The Russian Ambassador kindly responded saying that their situation ‘is not properly represented in the world media’.

It would be great if this misunderstanding could be resolved and the protesters can be home with their families in time for Christmas. We live in hope.

Paul McCartney

14th October 2013

Dear Vladimir,

I hope this letter finds you well. It is now more than ten years since I played in Red Square, but I still often think about Russia and the Russian people.

I am writing to you about the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists being held in Murmansk. I hope you will not object to me bringing up their case.

I hear from my Russian friends that the protesters are being portrayed in some quarters as being anti-Russian, that they were doing the bidding of western governments, and that they threatened the safety of the people working on that Arctic oil platform.

I am writing to assure you that the Greenpeace I know is most certainly not an anti-Russian organisation. In my experience they tend to annoy every government! And they never take money from any government or corporation anywhere in the world.

And above all else they are peaceful. In my experience, non-violence is an essential part of who they are.

I see you yourself have said that they are not pirates – well, that’s something everybody can agree on. Just as importantly, they don’t think they are above the law. They say they are willing to answer for what they actually did, so could there be a way out of this, one that benefits everybody?

Vladimir, millions of people in dozens of countries would be hugely grateful if you were to intervene to bring about an end to this affair. I understand of course that the Russian courts and the Russian Presidency are separate. Nevertheless I wonder if you may be able to use whatever influence you have to reunite the detainees with their families?

Forty-five years ago I wrote a song about Russia for the White Album, back when it wasn’t fashionable for English people to say nice things about your country. That song had one of my favourite Beatles lines in it: “Been away so long I hardly knew the place, gee it’s good to be back home.”

Could you make that come true for the Greenpeace prisoners?

I hope, when our schedules allow, we can meet up again soon in Moscow.

Sincerely yours,

Paul McCartney

The family of Stephen Paulus, who suffered a stroke in July and was in a prolonged coma, have posted a health update. We wish him a full recovery.

It has now been over four months since Stephen suffered a stroke. In the past few weeks he has started to show some small signs of improvement, but it is still too early to tell what the long term prognosis will be. 

We are encouraged on his better days when at times he is able to respond to touch and say a few words, but it appears this may not be a quick recovery and the outcome is still uncertain. We continue to relay all of the positive thoughts, prayers, and wonderful support that continue to be directed his way. 

Thank you,

The Paulus Family and Paulus Publications



…. is in OLM’s review of the new Jeff Bezos biography. I dislike everything about Amazon, starting with its immoderation and ending with its dumpbins of good books at penny prices. It renders every writer altogether disposable.  Read here.

It’s especially depressing on the day a great writer has died.

doris lessing2


So here’s something more cheerful.


The violin and cello in this new video are made by Antonio Stradivarius and the viola by Girolamo Amati. Who says a Strad makes no difference?


The players are the Amati String Trio – Gil Sharon: violin “Vesuvio” 1727 di Antonio Stradivari;  Ron Ephrat: viola fratelli Amati “Stauffer” 1615; Alexander Hulshoff: violoncello “Stauffer” ex Cristiani 1700 di Antonio Stradivari.


William Weaver, who was the foremost translator of modern Italian literature, was much appreciated by the music community for his English editions of documentary lives of Verdi and Puccini, as well as versions of many opera librettos.

Weaver, who translated Calvino, Eco, Moravia and Silone, has died, at 90.

william weaver

The world of books is preparing to mourn Doris Lessing, whose death has just been announced. Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, the oldest writer to do so. This was her reaction.

Born in Iran, she grew up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and spent her adult life in England, living in West Hampstead, where she is reported to have died peacefully in her sleep.

She wrote more than 50 books, as well as two operas with Philip Glass: The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1986) and The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five (1997).

01AHHKZ5doris lessing2

pictures (c)Lebrecht Music&Arts


He played with Toscanini and Miles Davis before he was 30. Now 88, the old bridge-builder still has lots to say. Read here.


First Mariss Jansons pulled out at the last minute of the Concertgebouw’s China tour.

Now the Rotterdam Philharmonic has been hit by Yannick Nezet-Séguin’s withdrawal from this week’s trip to Linz, Vienna and St Petersburg.

Is there some viral Dutch bug we should know about?


Latest on Mariss: He has rejoined the orchestra in Japan.

mariss paavo

On December 8, 1963, Ivry Gitlis became the first Israeli musician to give an official concert in the Soviet Union. Fifty years later, on December 8, 2013, Ivry (aged 91) will return to the Philharmonic Hall in St Petersburg – only this time he’s going mob-handed.

The musicians who will accompany him are Martha Argerich and Elisha Abas.

Be there, if you can. If you’re a friend of Ivry’s, he’ll ask you to play.

ivrymartha argerichelisha