The wonderful photographer Suzei Maeder found this in a Weimar cemetery.

lebrecht schiller

As mayor of Weimar, our namesake collected the remains of the poet, who died of TB in 18o5 and brought them to a decent burial in March 1826.

Recent research suggests they many have been the wrong remains.

The governing association has named Jeff Alexander of the Vancouver Symphony to succeed Deborah Rutter as president. The Chicago board meets tomorrow to approve the appointment. There has been no official confirmation yet from the CSO.

Alexander has been president & CEO of the Vancouver Symphony Society since September 2000. Before that he was 16 years with the Cincinnati Symphony.

Vancouver is Canada’s third largest orch, with a C14.5 million budget and Bramwell Tovey as music director. Chicago is a very different order of Mutitude.




A hundred years after its first performance, Gurrelieder is being performed tonight as an opera.

The text and story of Schoenberg’s oratorio are unquestionably dramatic and Pierre Audi of Dutch National Opera has been working all summer to bring the massive work to the stage next week.

Here, shown for the first time, is the thinking behind the production.

schoenberg portraitSchoenberg_Gurrelieder

In a textbook case of capitalism max, the National Football League is telling half-time performers they won’t get paid. On the contrary, they’ll have to pay for the privilege.

“One way to think about it is to remember that companies pay $4 million for 30 seconds of exposure during the Super Bowl,” says Daniel Lin, an economist at American University. “It doesn’t seem unreasonable that musicians would pay for something that others are already willing to pay millions for.” 

Land of the free, where nothing comes for free.

renee fleming inauguration

She is one of the county’s most outspoken stage personalities, never afraid to speak out in defence of embattled minorities.

Now, she’s taking on the opera establishment with her own production of Handel’s Xerxes – without state funds or private sponsorship, relying just as the composer did on the money she takes at the door.

Malena Ernman will sing the title role and organise the production, thereby saving two big expenses. But there’s still a cast and orchestra to pay. How will she do that? we asked Malena.

Here’s what she tells Slipped Disc:



The project is a part of a long work process that really started when I participated in the Swedish qualification competition for the Eurovision Song Contest 2009.

These qualifications are by far the biggest TV event in the Nordic region, lasting 6 weeks with an average TV audience of 4million viewers. As it turned out I won:) And that gave classical music in Sweden a unique opportunity to really embrace and conquer the famous ”new” audience.

But since no one really came forward to initiate that work I decided to start it by myself. It went well. Really well. Over the last 6 years I have toured Sweden with an (all-female) string ensemble and a few other classical musicians such as Martin Fröst and guitarist Mas Bergström, and we have succeeded in being self financed and reaching a yearly audience of 20-40 000 people. The idea has always been to give first class classical music and opera in a package entertaining enough to attract basically anyone.

After 2-3 years I approached some of the musical institutions to see whether they wanted to take part. Or to see if they were interested in what we had learnt. Or to find a way to cooperate…. But no.
malena ernman3

I’m sure you are aware that the world of classical music and opera is not wide open to change or innovative ideas. I thought if we could fill up concert houses with a non-traditional classical audience, playing anything from Monteverdi to Pärt we had found way that could be useful for the classical community. But my only conclusion was that they really were not interested! Sadly enough.

So I went on… In Europe I was an opera singer and in Sweden I was a performing artist. Even though I was pretty much doing the same thing. That made me think… and over the years I found there were some huge differences between the various artforms:

In opera, to make budget, we do as few performances as possible. And in all other art forms, you do as many as possible…Having spent most of my life entertaining people from stage I know that the one and only thing that make you develop is time on stage… And so naturally opera falls behind. Then I thought why not bring the ”theatre” in music-theatre back as an equal part of music theatre; opera. Specially since most of our potential new audience comes from theatre…

So now we are making Xerxes in that spirit. No funding, no grants, no donations, no sponsors… just tickets to be sold. (At a cheaper price than at the Stockholm Royal Opera). It is a bit of wild experiment of course.

My first and last ambition is to try to bring opera a tiny bit closer to the non traditional opera audience. AND!!! This is by no means meant as a ”art can finance itself” project!!! I believe that all art need and should receive a much larger public budget than today. Xerxes is just a way of showing the potential of opera; and what we are able to do if we only open up to our surrounding world and try to reach the broader stage-art audience.

I also think we need to put an end to the ”bigger and louder and grander” era in opera. The industrial size ”one-huge-operahouse-per-city” is not performing miracles on our artform anymore. I think we need to divide our “one-major-house-funding-per-city” to a number of smaller and more flexible companies; opening up for multiplicity, experimenting and competition. 

We bring the orchestra + conductor from France. (Sweden’s all-Wagner tradition does not develop great conditions for baroque orchestras). Ensemble Matheus and J C Spinosi whom I’ve worked with many times. They come straight from 2 Bartoli-productions in Salzburg.

Director is Swedish, Lars Rudolfsson who has directed and co-written the last three Björn and Benny from Abba musicals, Chess, Kristina from Dufvemåla and Hjälp sökes. The cast include Kerstin Avemo, Loa Falkman and Australian counter tenor David Hansen.

Our Xerxes will be part of the Opera Royal in Versailles, Paris  season 2014/15 opening June 3 2015.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has sounded a solemn note in its annual report, warning the Dutch government that it will lose a world-class asset if it does not increase state subsidy.

‘Our position is still strong but it is weakening fast,’ said David Bazen, the orch’s commercial director.

Despite artistic success at home and on tour, the Concertgebouw ran up an annual deficit of 836,461 Euros.

Bazen warned that there are few opportunities to increase income. Ticket prices are already among the highest in the sector and new sponsors are being actively deterred by a sense of financial crisis. The music director, Mariss Jansons recently announced his departure.

‘In two years’ time, Holland may no longer have an international orchestra,’ warned chief executive Jan Raes.

jansons concertgebouw



Sometimes being German is all it takes.

The award of the International Mendelssohn Prize in Leipzig to Hans-Dietrich Gesncher, long-serving foreign minister and middle-road politician, is one of those sometimes.

What has Genscher done to exemplify the values and creative exhilaration of Felix Mendelssohn?



Here’s the citation (auf Deutsch):

 „Seinem Motto: ‘… verantwortliche Politik muss der Freiheit und der Würde jedes einzelnen Menschen dienen’, ist Hans-Dietrich Genscher immer treu geblieben. Stets hat er sich für eine intensive Zusammenarbeit in Europa, für ein ganzheitliches, global verantwortungsvolles Denken eingesetzt und stets hat er diese Haltung selbst aktiv vertreten. Ein solches Denken und Handeln entspricht ganz dem aufklärerischen Geiste Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys, des großen Europäers und Mittlers zwischen den Religionen, der sich immer auch in besonderer Weise den Menschen zugewandt hat, nicht nur mit seiner Musik, sondern auch im gesellschaftlichen Leben. Mit dem Politiker und Humanisten Hans-Dietrich Genscher wird eine Persönlichkeit gewürdigt, die sehr eng mit den Ereignissen um die Friedliche Revolution verbunden ist, die vor 25 Jahren die beiden deutschen Staaten wieder angenähert und durch den Beitritt der Länder im Osten der Republik zur Wiedervereinigung Deutschlands geführt hat. In diesem Prozess ist seine Zuwendung allen Menschen gegenüber eindrucksvoll deutlich geworden.”

He shares the prize with the Gewandhaus Quartet.

We hear that Daniel King Smith, the school accompanist, will not be returning to the Purcell School in the new term.

No reason for his departure has been given to staff, parents or pupils. We have requested confirmation from King Smith.

It is understood that King Smith has been made to sign a confidentiality agreement and cannot comment. It is not known whether his departure from Purcell will affect his future as accompanist at the Royal College of Music.

Smith joins a long and troubled line of departures in the past couple of years: the former Headmaster (Peter Crook), Head of Boarding (Thomas Smith), Head of PE, (David Grant), Head of Geography (Margaret Moore), Director of Music, (Quentin Poole) and his partner, (Ian Mcmillan), Head of Boys Boarding House (Andrew Hutchings), Head of Academic Music, (Miranda Francis), Head of Girls Boarding House, (James Francis), retiring Head of Junior School (Cherry Trotter), Music Librarian (Diana Winny), and Assistant Head of English,(Sheila Young). Some left for natural and non-contentious reasons.

Since the bizarre decision last year to run a music school without a head of music, we understand that results have suffered. Staff tell us of  ‘an all time low in last month’s A level results, producing three unprecedented unclassified grades in music.’

The school’s troubles date back three years to allegations of ‘sexual bullying’  that led to the hasty departure of the head, Peter Crook.

daniel king smith

UPDATE: More recent departures from the Purcell School:  Marisa Thornton-Wood (Junior Music) Alan McKenna, (Chemistry )  David Chappell, (Biology) Kevan Taylor, (Biology) Simon Colam, ( Head of Jazz ) James Quinn (Fundraising), Kitt Garner, (Head of Boys Boarding House) before Andrew Hutchings. Kitt and Andrew only lasted a year in the post. Various long standing cleaning and catering staff have left. 

Sadly both Kevan Taylor and James Quinn have since passed away. Our informant left mainly due to bullying. 

Meet Fewaz Yekini.

fawaz yekini


We like how he plays and we can’t find anything more about him.

Click here for video, uploaded last night.

h/t: Barbara Luisi

Places in Berlin radio choir’s annual singalong concert, conducted by Simon Halsey, sold out yesterday in 20 minutes. The waiting list is also booked out. There has never been such a need in Berlin to sing out loud.


simon halsey2

The Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca (pictured left), who took Salzburg by storm in La Favorita after prolonged maternity leave, has issued a coded attack on those of her colleagues (I think we know who she means, pictured right) who market themselves on social media.



Elina tells the Munich Merkur (not online):

Heute ist es üblich, und das wird auch erwartet, dass man mit Selfies, Facebook et cetera ständig Privates nach Außen kommuniziert. Vieles geht aber niemanden etwas an…Man muss aufpassen, dass das nicht unseren eigentlichen Job überlagert. Wir sind Sänger! Natürlich bin ich auch Geschäftsfrau. Ich kenne die Spielregeln und mache das alles gerne. Aber im Alltag ist dieser Rummel für mich oft lästig, andere Kollegen ticken da vielleicht anders.

It is common and expected today that you are constantly communicating your private life outwards with Selfies, Facebook etc. Much of this  is nobody else’s business…. We need to be aware that this does not overlay our real job., We are singers! Of course, I am also a businesswoman. I know the rules of the game and keep everyone happy. But in daily life this hype annoys me, other colleagues may take a different view.


… Sydney, Australia.

We gave been sent the pay rates for second violins in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The going rate for a tutti seat is A$92,135 to A$115,169 (US $85,600-107,027).

It comes with 9.50% superannuation, and 6 weeks annual leave.

That is more than double the tutti rate in most UK orchestras. nd you won’t find comparable pay in the US, outside the top ten.

Other benefits can be viewed below. Audition form here.

australians on beach