Judge Richard L. Sullivan of the US District Court of the southern district of New York, the man who originally sentenced the opera donor, revoked his bail today. Unless Vilar’s lawyer wins in the Appeal Court, he will return to jail tomorrow.


alberto vilar met

After reading about Maria Joao Pires and the wrong Mozart concerto, players in the Berlin Philharmonic pulled a fast one on their soloist, concertmaster, Daishin Kashimoto, by playing the opening to the Mendelssohn concerto instead of the Prokofiev. Was he bothered? Just watch here.


There has been much press hooh-hah about a bowed keyboard instrument imagined by Leonardo da Vinci and built by an enterprising Pole. But does it pass the acid test of musicology? Apparently not. Here’s a response to the American Musicological Society Discussion List from Professor Edmond Johnson in Los Angeles. Sorry, folks.

I hesitate to represent myself as any sort of expert in the history of bowed

keyboard instruments, but I think I can probably answer Prof.

Warfield’s question about “Leonardo da Vinci’s Wacky Piano.” Basically, it

appears that the instrument built by S?awomir Zubrzycki is not so much a

realization of a design by Leonardo da Vinci as it is a reconstruction of

the instrument described as a “Geigenwerk/GeigenInstrument, oder

GeigenClavicymbel” in the second volume of Michael Praetorius’s Syntagma

Musicum (pp.67-72). Praetorius credits the instrument’s invention to Hans

Haiden of Nuremberg (who had apparently built a working model as early as

1575), and a woodblock illustration of a “Nürmburgisch Geigenwerk” can be

found in Praetorius’s Theatrum Instrumentorum.

The Nuremberg violin mechanism (stringed piano)

To my knowledge, only one historical example of this type of instruments

survives—a 1625 Spanish instrument by Raymundo Truchado in the collection

of the Musical Instruments Museum in Brussels—but there have been previous

attempts at making modern replicas (including four different instruments by

the Japanese builder Akio Obuchi).

Now it’s certainly true that da Vinci made some sketches of a

continuously-bowed keyboard instrument (which he dubbed the “viola

organista”) , but the sketches are pretty rough, and most of them show an

action that’s quite different from the one in Zubrzycki’s instrument (which

uses the same rosin-coated wheels as Haiden’s geigenwerk). In short,

Zubrzycki’s instrument seems to me to be a nice reconstruction of a

16th-century German instrument that just happens to share some of the

characteristics of da Vinci’s imagined “viola organista” (which Haiden

almost certainly knew nothing about).

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “a circus sideshow looking for

suckers,” I think it’s safe to say that the idea of a long-lost instrument

by Leonardo da Vinci makes for far better headlines than “Instrument by

Obscure German Reconstructed… Again.”



Edmond Johnson

P.s. You can find some reproductions of the da Vinci sketches in Emanuel

Winternitz’s “Strange Musical Instruments in the Madrid Notebooks of

Leonardo da Vinci,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 2 (1969), pp. 115-126.

Arts writers and readers are reeling today at the news that Bloomberg is scrapping Muse, the daily board of eight high-class arts stories and commentaries.

Its founder and editor, Manuela Hoelterhoff (pictured with Bloomberg editor in chief Matt Winkler), will stay on the network as chief cultural correspondent, and boy can she write. There will also be an arts blog on the Luxury channel. But Muse is dead. Another arts outlet bites the dust. And other media owners will take this as a signal to shrink their arts coverage still further.



UPDATE: Here’s the internal memo from Matt Winkler.

When we announced the management reorganization a little more than a month ago, we said we wanted to be ideally positioned for growth, foster deeper collaboration, and develop our news products. Since then, we evaluated everything we’re doing to determine what’s working and what isn’t, with the single aim to ensure all we do has maximum impact. One lesson we learned was that we must have the courage to say no to certain areas of coverage in order to have enough firepower in areas we want to own.

It’s against this backdrop that we had to make some difficult decisions today. We were able to reassign a number of people to new positions, and we are grateful for the contributions of those who no longer can be part of our organization. We are convinced that the changes will help us take Bloomberg News to another level of influence.

We decided to scale back arts coverage and no longer use the Muse brand, and we’ll align our leisure reporting with Pursuits and the luxury channel on the Web. Executive Editor Manuela Hoelterhoff, who initiated luxury coverage at Bloomberg, will now oversee new book projects while continuing the cultural coverage for which she received a Pulitzer Prize and Guggenheim fellowship. We will create an editing hub for the Projects team in Washington and no longer have editors dispersed around the world, to further empower the writers; we decided to focus our AV team on LIVE <GO>, which terminal customers depend on, and stop the parallel editing of video that the multimedia team already does. We also decided to concentrate our sports coverage on the nexus with business and no longer do match reports. In beat reporting, we identified some savings thanks to closer collaboration among the newly united teams.

Izvestia reports that four artists have been chosen ‘by tender’ to open the Winter Olympics at Sochi. The results will be announced on CDecember 13 but the paper has been tipped the wink on the favourites. They are (no surprises):

Valery Gergiev, Yuri Bashmet, Denis Matsuev and the Mariinsky ballerina, Ulyana Lopatkina.


We  guess Gidon Kremer didn’t make the shortlist.

Something to dispel the waft of sanctimony that will envelop the actual birthday, on Saint Cecilia’s Day, this Friday. It’s a remake of the Flanders & Swann radio upsend.

Not quite in the class of Dudley Moore, but who is?


Benjamin Britten at Blythburgh church

The most famous winner of the Gustav Mahler conducting competition has pulled out of a return Mahler gig with the flu.

His replacement is the most recent winner, Lahav Shani.

lahav shani

photo (c) Yossi Zwecker

Wegen einer schweren Grippeerkrankung musste Gustavo Dudamel kurzfristig seine Konzerte mit den Bamberger Symphonikern absagen. Er bedauert dies umso mehr, als die Konzerte an seinen Gewinn des ersten Gustav-Mahler-Dirigentenwettbewerbs vor fast zehn Jahren erinnern sollten. Dankenswerterweise hat sich Lahav Shani, der Gewinner des diesjährigen Gustav-Mahler-Dirigentenwettbewerbs, bereit erklärt, die Leitung der Konzerte zu übernehmen.



john tavener3The Funeral Service for Sir John Tavener, who passed away on 12 November, aged 69, will take place at Winchester Cathedral on Thursday 28 November at 11am.

Places are to be reserved and tickets issued. Please email emma.law@winchester-cathedral.org.uk with your details, including your postal address and a note of your connection with Sir John. You can also write to: Emma Law, The Cathedral Office, 9,The Close, Winchester, SO23 9LS.


The closing date for requests is 9am on Monday 25 November.

Tickets will be despatched on this date.




qatar stadium

The design is by Zaha Hadid, Iraqi-born British architect. See more below:

Mounting losses have brought Goverment intervention as the house declares a deficit of nine million Euros. The Ministry of Culture will appoint an administrator.  The outgoing director, Catello De Martino, is being widely blamed. He was appointed by the mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno. Staff and musicians are braced for job losses.


rome opera

Headlines we thought we’d never write….

But life never fails to surprise. Martin Garrix has the #1 UK single this week. He’s 17 and a Dutch DJ. His video has received almost 70 million hits. Yes, 70 million. Must try some of his magic on classical radio.