MMF concerto per Benedetto  XVI

… Zubin.

He’ll be 77 and it will be his fifth time in the New Year podium, a total exceeded only by Willi Boskovsky, Clemens Krauss and Lorin Maazel.

The orchestra has also announced a quick trip to Milan next month with Riccardo Chailly. Just keeping their chestnuts warm with the incoming La Scala music director.

Ah, politics, politics…

A few minutes ago, we reached the flute virtuoso Boujemaa Razgui by phone to discuss the assault on his instruments by US Customs at JFK airport.

A Canadian citizen, based in New York and with a green card employment permit, Boujemaa was flying home from Marrakech, Morocco, when his baggage was opened by Customs at JFK.

‘I told them I had these instruments for many years and flew with them in and out,’ he said. ‘There were 11 instruments in all. They told me they were agricultural products and they had to be destroyed. There was nothing I could do. The ney flute can be made with bamboo. Is that agricultural?’

Boujemaa was both upset and unwilling to risk a confrontation with the US authorities.  We did not press him for further particulars. He does not know what to do next. But he does appear to be the victim of state injustice. What do the lawyers among our readers think he should do?

Here’s a further communication from Boujemaa.

Boujemaa’s contact details have been sent to journalists on the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Let’s see if they take up the story.


The verdict is reported here. Robin Zebaida, 49, has been placed on the Sex Offenders List.


Sinfini have jumped the gun with an impromptu Bach suite by the stunning Avi Avital. Watch here.

avi avital

And Avi has just posted a video of his breakthrough year:

While the Vienna Philharmonic gleams and waltzes in tomorrow’s New Year’s Day gala, Vienna’s other concert hall has stumbled into crisis.

The board of directors cannot decide on a president to succeed Dr. Theresa Jordis, who died in September, and the leading sponsor, Kapsch, have announced they are pulling out of the shaky enterprise.

The Konzerthaus is owned and operated by a private association with 9,000 members. Anyone can join for an annual fee of around EUR 50. But decisions are taken by a inner clique of 25 board members. The Austrian Government provides 2 million Euros a year in subsidy and the lead sponsor 200,000.

George Kapsch quit after his candidate was rejected for the presidency. His departure, our insider says, could cause a confidence crisis. There has been some media chatter, and the situation seems to be worsening. Not a good omen for the New Year.


According to an unfair dismissal case before the New York courts, the term was common parlance among male staff at Manhattanville College, Westchester. Apparently, the head of department was forced to leave in 2009 after an incident with a female student, but the predatory culture persisted. Pianist and teacher Claudia Knafo is claiming $1.5 million in damages for her dismissal. 

claudia knafo

The pianist Martin Berkofsky, who died yesterday, restored and recorded little-known concertos for two pianos by Bruch, Mendelssohn and Moscheles. Here’s an appreciation we have received from his friend, Roberto Prosseda:





Yesterday the pianist Martin Berkofsky (Washington, 1943) passed away in his home in Virginia, USA. Martin was a close friend of mine and I consider him one of the greatest and original pianists of our time, even if he was not famous and was not interested in the public career.
He actually had a very unusual artistic career: after an international concert activity (with recordings for EMI, Vox, Nimbus, Turnabout), in 1982 he had a motorcycle accident in Iceland and remained paralyzed for months. After recovering, he decided to stop a career based on business and success, and gave concerts only for free or for raising funds for benefit institutions.
In 1993 Martin was diagnosed a prostate cancer. After recovering he started a concert tours in hospitals and private houses from Tulsa (city where he was treated, at the Cancer Treatment Center), to Chicago. He raised 80.000 USD for the cancer research.
I met Martin by coincidence  some years ago, when I was searching for a rare score by Mendelssohn/Moscheles (the Variations on a theme from Weber’s “Preciosa”, in the original version for two pianos and orchestra).  I found in internet that Martin had recorded this piece in the ‘70s. I wrote him asking information about the score (unpublished) and the day after he sent me a copy of the manuscript. I was surprised by this unusually generous approach, and looked more about his career and life. So I learned about his interest for bringing music in hospitals and in other places out of the concert halls, and for his philantropic activities.
Martin came to Italy in 2010 at the Donatori di Musica national conference (, a network of musicians, doctors and volunteers started in 2007, which runs concert seasons in Oncology departments of Italian hospitals.
Martin was diagnosed a second cancer (esophagus) in 2011 and still was able to make two Liszt recordings. The first (2011) was released onCD for Arts label (, this recording was donated to to Donatori di Musica. This CD is available and shows his unique way of playing the piano and of conceiving the musical expression. The second recording (2012) is still unpublished.
The way Martin reacted to the illness was incredible. He always said that the two cancers were the two biggest gifts that he received. Thanks to them, he found a real sense of life, of making music, of sharing and donating the beauty with others.
Martin was not famous at all. But I am quite sure that some of his recordings will remain in the history.
You will find more on his Facebook page. He was active on Facebook till few hours before death.


Boujemaa Razgui, a flute virtuoso who lives in New York and works with many US ensembles, was returning to base over the holiday when Customs officials at Kennedy Airport asked to see his instruments.

Bourjemaa carries a variety of flutes of varying ethnicity, each made by himself over years for specific types of ancient and modern performance. He is a regular guest with the diverse and enterprising Boston Camerata.

At JFK, the officials removed and smashed each and every one of his instruments. No reason was given.

We have been unable to reach the distressed Boujemaa but a swell of outrage is rising among his musician friends. One ensemble director tells us: ‘I can’t think of an uglier, stupider thing for the U.S. government to do than to deprive this man of the tools of his art and a big piece of his livelihood.’

Boujemaa needs all the support he can get. Messages of sympathy on Slipped Disc will reach him one way or other.


UPDATE: We have just managed to reach Boudemaa by phone. His ordeal may have been worse than described above. Report here. And in a further email, Boujemaa describes the joy his instruments brought to different communities across North America. Read here.

FURTHER UPDATE: US Customs start organising a defence.



The outgoing Berlin Philharmonic conductor has been appointed to the Order of Merit in Britain’s New Year’s Honours List. The OM is restricted to 24 living individuals at any given time. Rattle is the first musician of his generation to be included.


simon rattle1

Other music honorees include a Companion of Honour (CH) to the composer Peter Maxwell Davies, an OBE to the singer Katherine Jenkins and CBEs to the pianist Stephen Hough and the dancer Carlos Acosta.

Jenkins said: ‘To accept such an award after only a decade of service to music and charity, comes as a wonderful surprise. I share this award with the charitable bodies I am so privileged to work with, especially to those brave service men and women who risk so much for us all on a daily basis.’

More details here.

In the quietest of weeks, the one that caught my ear as Albujm of the Week on was the ritual music written by Jean Sibelius for the first Lodge in newly independent Finland.

Never knew Sibelius was a Mason? See who else was. Read here.


Our intrepid New York operavores, Elizabeth Frayer and Shawn E Milnes, were so starved of art over the festive season that they went to see the abridged-for-kids Magic Flute. Seats were hard to come by.

The poor tourists sitting next to me were so confused and kept moving their chairs around, convinced that the Met wouldn’t sell tickets for seats where you couldn’t see the show. After much moving and talking between them, I finally turned to the older Russian couple and politely informed them they purchased partial view seats, it said so on their tickets and they were not going to be able to see the entire stage.  They pulled out their tickets and confirmed.  This settled them down, but to be honest, I think it’s practically criminal to charge $116.50 for this.

Read more here.

met partial view


Well that’s the title.

Oh, sorry! It’s Libera.

Subtitled: Angels Sing Christmas in Ireland.

(Do they, really?)



UPDATE: Second top was Wang/Dudamel, third A Boston Pops Christmas (source: Nielsen Soundscan)