The viola player and conductor has been punished by the Ukraine for signing a manifesto in support of Vladimir Putin’s actin on Crimea. His title as honorary professor of the Lviv conservatory has been withdrawn. Bashmet grew up in Lviv and graduated from its music school.



We posted a duet that Dutch child star Amira Willighagen has recorded with Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma.

The Pavarotti estate leaped into action. They tell us that no permission was requested or granted for use of the recording. Had it been requested, it would not have been granted.

They will made a formal complaint to Simon Cowell’s company Syco, which insisted it had nothing to do with the dub-over and would not release it on Amira’s forthcoming album.

The estate was originally unable to trace the recording because Pavarotti’s voice had been transposed a whole tone down – the ultimate insult to a great tenor.

amira willighagen  not withpavarotti

Frances Darger, who came top in our survey of long-serving players, retired at the end of the 2012 season.

But the Utah ymphony won’t let her go. They’ve been round to her with a video camera and got their fingers on her photo album and her memories. Frances looks as if she could walk straight back into rehearsal.

‘It was $37.50 a week for six services a week….’

)frances darger utah

A federal regulation on ivory imports came into force on February 25. It applies to ivory used in musical instruments.

Worked African elephant ivory imported as part of a musical instrument will continue to be allowed provided the worked ivory was legally acquired prior to February 26, 1976; the worked elephant ivory has not subsequently been transferred from one person to another person in pursuit of financial gain or profit; and the item is accompanied by a valid CITES musical instrument passport.

What this means is that every string player who has a small piece of ivory in their bow will need to get a passport for each instrument and bow. Every time you buy a new bow, you will need to register it and pay a $75 fee.

Here are some basic guidelines. It’s getting tough out there. They’ve found another way to get you.

UPDATE: WE have received the following advisory from the League of American Orchestras:

If a musician purchased an instrument containing African Elephant ivory after 1976they are not allowed to bring it into the U.S.  Even if it is certifiedand even if they are simply returning from an international performance.


– The passport will only be good for up to three years, so it will need to be renewed.

– The certification requirement is not a new one.  They have long been required to obtain a certification before travelling internationally.

– The existing certification requirement is likely to now be enforced much more strictly.

Our website has all the details.


alban gerhardt bow

Jan Willem Vriend, chief conductor and artistic director of the embattled Dutch Symphony Orchestra, has published an article this morning demanding to know why the Netherlands Philharmonic is threatening to seize his instruments. The latest court round between the two orchestra has resulted in a fine of 1,000 Euros a day on the Symphony Orchestra, mounting currently to 34,000 Euros. The NedPhil wants the DSO to change its name.



‘This nonsense has to stop,’ writes Vriend. ‘It cannot be that one ensemble has the right to dictate the name of another…. I appeal to the NedPhil to stop this unnecessary conflict and to the public to help with this. Let us do what we’re here for: make music.’

Whatever the petty rights and wrong of the situation, it seems unconscionable that one orchestra can threaten to seize the instruments of another in a battle that can only benefit the lawyers.

We have asked the NedPhil to send us their version of events. Waiting.

Here’s the open letter from Jan Willem Vriend (in Dutch):

NedPho moet ophouden te procederen

JAN WILLEM DE VRIEND − 13/03/14, 00:00

Waarmee orkesten zich moeten bezighouden is het vertellen van het verhaal van de klassieke muziek. Toch denkt niet iedereen er zo over. Dankzij het Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest (NedPho) uit Amsterdam, houd ik mij op dit moment vooral bezig met het veiligstellen van onze financiën en instrumenten.

Na een kort geding, een hoger beroep, een executiegeschil, een turbo spoedappèl en nu een bodemprocedure, bestookt het Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest mijn orkest, het Nederlands Symfonieorkest uit Overijssel. Mijn orkest mag van hen niet meer zijn eigen naam gebruiken. De reden: bang dat er naamsverwarring zou kunnen ontstaan. Daarom verbiedt het NedPho via de rechter onze naam te handhaven voor communicatie over het seizoen 2014/2015. Wij moeten ons hangende de lopende procedures vooralsnog neerleggen bij deze rechterlijke uitspraak. Daarom heten we op dit moment ‘Het ***** Symfonieorkest’.

Maar zelfs dat is niet genoeg voor NedPho. Met nota bene echte dwangsommen van 1.000 euro per dag als gevolg. De teller staat nu al op 34.000! En om de oorlog compleet te maken, staat NedPho nu op het punt beslag te leggen op onze rekeningen en instrumenten. Terwijl op 18 maart al de bodemprocedure begint. Het NedPho wil de uitkomst hiervan echter niet afwachten. Het is te zot voor woorden en raakt mij diep.

En wij kunnen niet anders dan ons verdedigen. Ons niet verdedigen betekent het opgeven van een naam die we al sinds 1996 voeren in het buitenland. Het betekent ook het beperken van onze ambitie, waarmee we de cultuurbezuinigingen van 2012 het hoofd bieden. Voormalig staatssecretaris Zijlstra van Cultuur heeft van meet af aan onze ondernemende houding geprezen. Bovendien: onze naam nu nog veranderen, kost tonnen. En dat lijkt mij niet reëel.

Laten we eerlijk zijn. Het Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest en het Nederlands Symfonieorkest kunnen prima naast elkaar bestaan. Vanuit de rechterlijke strijd gezien staat het nu 2-2, maar deze onzin moet nu ophouden. Het kan niet zo zijn dat het ene orkest de naam van een ander orkest bepaalt. De vraag is dan ook waarom NedPho deze strijd blijft voeren? Ooit, zo’n vijftien jaar geleden (toen mijn orkest nog het Orkest van het Oosten heette), hebben twee voormalige orkestdirecteuren elkaar een keer een amicaal briefje geschreven over het gebruik van de verschillende namen. Aanleiding was dat mijn orkest in het buitenland zichzelf ging presenteren als Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. In Nederland was daar toen geen sprake van. Het NedPho ziet dit nu onterecht als een officieel contract. Toch blijft ze maar doorprocederen en gaat dit orkest tot het uiterste. En dan te bedenken dat we in het buitenland gewoon Netherlands Symphony Orchestra mogen blijven heten. Ik roep NedPho dan ook op deze onnodige strijd te staken en vraag het Nederlandse publiek om hierbij te helpen. Laten we doen waar we voor zijn: muziek maken!


chef-dirigent en artistiek leider Het ***** Symfonieorkest


Amira Willighagen, phenomenal winner of Holland’s Got Talent, has got a record deal. She announced it on breakfast radio.

The broadcast includes an unauthorised Nessun Dorma dub-over duet with Luciano Pavarotti. Listen here.

And O Mio Babbino Caro, of course.

The album was recorded in England on Simon Cowell’s Syco label for Sony Music Entertainment. It will be out March 28 and is called “Amira”. The child star will tour South Africa in a fortnight and play Las Vegas in May.


UPDATE: Strong reaction from the Pavarotti estate.

)amira willighagen



Toots-Thielemans-6Toots Thielemans, the Belgian harmonica virtuoso, cancelled a concert in Antwerp last night. It was his second stand-down in three months and he decided it’s time to retire.

He earned his greatest fame on the soundtracks of Midnight Cowboy and Jean de Florette.

Ah, bye-bye, blackbird.


photo courtesy



Colin Patterson, who worked and lived at Absolute Piano, has been telling the Daily News how he got out alive when the store blew up. ‘I was watching TV,’ he said. ‘There was a massive explosion and before you know it the building was on top of me. I didn’t know what happened.’

Colin crawled out between ‘a cocoon of pianos’ which, he insists, saved his life. Read more here. Six people are known to have died.

The store has been owned and operated since 2005 by Kaoru Muramatsu, a graduate of Nippon University, who made it a hub for piano activity in that part of the city.

Kaoru Muramatsu



A group of brave Russian actors has signed a petition in support of an independent, undivided Ukraine. maidan signatures

Players in the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra turned up to work today to find their instruments under threat of seizure – on the order of the Netherlands Philharmonic.

The Symphony Orchestra, based in Enschede, used to be known as Orkest van het Oorsten (orchestra of the East). After its rebrand a couple of years back, lawyers for the Netherlands Philharmonic, based in Amsterdam, protested at the alleged similarity of names. The Symphony stood firm. So the NedPhil won a court order against them last month. This morning, they sent in the bailiffs to issue a threat to impound their instruments.

Erik Olsman, a bass player in the Symphony, has just gone online to raise the outcry. UPDATE: The NedPhil dispute this (below).

Have the NedPhil lost their marbles? Have they never been to London, where a dozen orchestras get along with very similar names? Have they nothing better to do on a Thursday morning?

Get a life, Netherlands Philharmonic. And back off. This is public money and patience you are wasting.

netherland symphony


UPDATE: A conductor appeals for ‘the nonsense to stop’.

Further UPDATE: We have received the following communication from the managing director of the NedPhil:

There is absolutely no question of seizing instruments from the orchestra, nor of bailiffs doing so.


The two orchestras agreed some years ago that the Orkest van het Oosten could use the name Netherlands Symphony Orchestra when on tour abroad, but not in The Netherlands. Unfortunately the orchestra decided to  no longer honor this agreement, not even after  the courts pointed out their obligation to do so.


I wonder how it came that Mr. De Vriend (was it really him?) published wrong information in the Volkskant today.

Kind regards,


Rob Streevelaar

Managing director


Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra /

Netherlands Chamber Orchestra



We have been informed of the death of Randolph Herr, a great authority on player pianos and an expert restorer. He was 65, single, and single-mindedly devoted to restoring the golden age of mechanical pianos and pianolas. We lament his passing.

Here’s a newspaper profile that appeared a couple of years back.

randolph herrr