Prague’s police chief has praised a young officer who took time out from patrol to play a Korean tune. Police chief Martin Cervicek said the new recruit had greatly improved the image of the police force. His performance was filmed on a mobile phone and has gone viral on youtube. The tune is A River Flows In You, by a South Korean composer, Yiruma.

prague police

Valery Gergiev’s defence of Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay laws may cost the Russian conductor his long-standing festival in Rotterdam.

The city council has called a meeting this week to examine his statements on gay issues. If they are found to be offensive, the festival could lose its subsidy and be forced to close. Report here (in Dutch).

Russian President Putin presents a Hero of Labour award to Mariinsky theatre director Gergiev during an awards ceremony in St. Petersburg

Bernd Neumann, the most pro-culture minister in Europe, is heading for retirement at 72. His successor is going to be another CDU politician,  Monika Grütters. She has chaired the Bundestag culture and media committee and knows the brief as well as anyone.


The German violin star, on tour in Israel, visited a Tel Aviv luthier, Amnon Weinstein, who restores instruments that were found in German Holocaust sites. Watch news report here.


david garrett israel

He was supposed to conduct Rosenkavalier next summer but has some surgery scheduled. Franz-Welser-Möst steps in, tightening his grip on the festival as Pereira departs. Press announcement below.

zubin mehta kashmir3

(December 15, 2013, SF) Zubin Mehta is extraordinarily sorry that an impending operation has forced him to withdraw from conducting Der Rosenkavalier in the summer of 2014, an event we had been looking forward greatly.

The Salzburg Festival is delighted that Franz Welser-Möst, GMD of the Vienna State Opera and Musical Director of The Cleveland Orchestra, has spontaneously declared his willingness to conduct this new production with the Vienna Philharmonic, directed by Harry Kupfer.


Der Rosenkavalier is a work very dear to Franz Welser-Möst’s heart. I feel that it is a happy fate that this Rosenkavalier will be entrusted to him,” says Artistic Director Alexander Pereira.



Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier

Comedy for music in three acts by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Vienna Philharmonic, Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, Salzburg Festival and Theatre Children’s Chorus

Soloists: Krassimira Stoyanova, Sophie Koch, Mojca Erdmann, Silvana Dussmann, Adrian Eröd, Günther Groissböck and others

Director: Harry Kupfer, Sets: Hans Schavernoch, Costumes: Yan Tax

Supported by the Salzburg Festival Society (USA)

Premiere: August 1, 2014, 6:00 pm, Großes Festspielhaus

Antoinette, a Kiev Conservatory student, plays Chopin’s Revolutionary etude in the thick of the Khreschyatik, centre of Kiev. Antoinette is quoted as saying: ‘We are a European country and value European classical music.’ Our man on the spot writes: ‘As the guys were lugging the piano to the spot, they got help from other protesters by shouting out ‘Make way! Musical Berkut!’ (The Berkut are the heavy militia who tried to bust up the demo at its start).’

UPDATE: More from our man on the spot: I went for a stroll after sending you the YouTube link and found another musician on the main platform at the Maidan – Vytauatas Landsbergis, renowned biographer of the composer Ciurlionis, and the first Head of State of Independent Lithuania. Nice speech (’25 years ago we were in the position you are now’) and very warmly received by the crowd.

kiev revolution

The trial of two Italian sisters accused of defrauding the art collector Charles Saatchi and his celebrity chef ex-wife Nigella Lawson has yielded much testimony of the careless lives of the super-rich and some tips on how to get that way.

For instance, creating your own best-selling book. Charles Saatchi did it, allegedly, by sending aides to buy copies of My Name Is Charles Saatchi and I Am An Artoholic at stores that are monitored for the best-seller charts. ‘I took out £200 and we would go around different stores across London four times a week, Waterstones and also Amazon. All of the staff had to do it,’ testified one of the defendants.

Think how much easier it would be to rig the classical charts. In the US, 500 sales buys you a classical number one. In Britain, 200 should do it. Give your PR £2,000 and get her to buy 200 of your CDs in the week after Christmas. Then announce yourself as the UK #1.

It’s so easy I’m surprised artists aren’t doing it already. Or are they?

(I have my suspicions about those humming nuns.)



Peter O’Toole, who died today aged 81, starred in such deathless movies as Lawrence of Arabia, Becket and The Lion in Winter.

Anyone remember his only musical? He was not always in tune.

peter o'toole

Guildford, a picture-postcard kind of town in southeast England, earlier this year got rid of its Philharmonic Orchestra, acclaimed for its performances of English music with the late Tod Handley. Now it’s proposing to phase out subsidy to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre which, having already lost its Arts Council grant, would probably have to shut down.

Guildford is what is known as a dormitory town, a place where people who work in London come home to sleep. Without orchestra or theatre it will become a mortuary town.


Lisa Riley Fogler, moderator of Facebook Violinists, cannot play solo. She’s happy to play within a group of any size, but she cannot let a living soul hear her playing the violin alone – thanks to a teacher who drummed into her all the fear in music and none of the joy.

After reading a psychotherapist’s essay about performance anxiety on Slipped Disc, Lisa decided to share her experiences, for the benefit of other players and the elimination of bad teaching. Here’s Lisa’s story.

lisa riley fogler

I’ve been playing the violin for forty-eight years. Wow, I must be good. I probably am. But, I don’t think I am good enough to play in front of you. Alone in my little music room, I was channeling Jascha Heifetz. I would hear myself and think, “Wow I’m good!” But I played with the windows closed and only if nobody was home to hear me. It was extreme, I know.

I know when this started. When I was young I was very dedicated to the violin. I wanted to play the violin very much. I had a great teacher and I took lessons from him and his wife. In Jr. High my teacher told me about an audition for a District Orchestra. I started practicing Dancla’s Air Varie No 5. I auditioned and made first violin, second stand. I wasn’t afraid during the audition, just a bit nervous. Then, my Dad convinced me that I needed more in depth lessons. He hired a well-known violist from the Boston Symphony Orchestra to be my Professor. This is when the problem started.

This man destroyed my confidence. From the minute I arrived at his house until the minute I left, he told me how useless I was. He would yell at me. The more I shook, the more he rolled his eyes and insulted me. I cried for the entire hour, or shook like a twig. I didn’t learn anything from him, except that I wasn’t worth his time. I became convinced he was right. I stopped practicing entirely. I was afraid to hear my own mistakes.

I loved the violin and wanted to continue, but there was no point in making an effort because I was useless. Every tiny mistake I made was proof of my complete lack of talent. It didn’t matter that I was a first violinist. It didn’t matter that people were telling me how good I was. They were doing it because they loved me. They had to say that.

I acquired an aversion to playing when anyone who loved me was in the house. I would only play alone in a room where nobody could hear me, with the windows and door closed. The minute someone showed up I would instantly play badly and stop. I moved to France in my late thirties and married. I never played when my husband was home. If he did happen to come home I would get upset if he heard me.

Out of sheer boredom, I brought my violin to the rehearsal of a local amateur symphony orchestra, that was open to letting anyone sit in. To my great surprise, I could play. I joined another orchestra and today, twelve years later, I am a first violinist. I have no stage fright at all when playing in the orchestra. But I still don’t want to be seen. Violinists play with a stand partner. I cannot play on the right, you may see me. I can’t have that.

I’m better these days, thanks to playing in a symphony orchestra. When you know you are blending your voice with others and you can hear their foibles, it makes it easier. I play duets with other violinists. I play duets with a pianist. I play duets with a harpist. I can play with the windows open now. I can play if my husband walks in the room.

But I still won’t play alone in front of you.

My advice to parents and violin teachers? Don’t think you are doing children a favor when you are being brutally honest about their skills. You may be 100% correct and yet it can be so wrong for some children. Be aware of the child you have in front of you and listen to them.

In China, 2014 will be the year of the horse.

In Berlin, it has been declared the year of the viola. The Landesmusikrat Berlin has decreed it so.



It follows upon that hotly attended event: 2013, Berlin’s year of the baglama.