The Danish Parliament has voted overwhelmingly for a motion, ordering the minister of culture to prevent the national broadcaster, DR, from abolishing its chamber orchestra. A Conservative spokesman said: ‘It’s a cultural scandal that DR has axed the orchestra.’

Other parties echoed similar sentiments.

The debate in Parliament made several references to international reporting of the abolition (led by Slipped Disc) and to protests signed by musicians of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra (rallied by conductors Fabio Luisi and Adam Fischer), the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic. No mention was made of the widely-watched video in which the players consumed chili peppers.

The minister is not legally obligated to obey the Parliamentary motion, but failure do so would, commentators say, seriously undermine her position. It looks like the orchestra has been saved.

Report here (in Danish).

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The conductor has published another of his Middle East interventions. This one, in Armistice Week, seems more injudicious than most. Daniel writes:

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Germany’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a diminutive one. It does not want to inflame sensibilities over its relations with Israel. However, if there is to be a solution to the conflict, Germany must play some role and exert some form of influence on Israeli policy. Germany can and should put political pressure on Israel. After all, we are talking here about the intellectual and political future of the state of Israel. The logic is simple: Germany is committed to the ongoing security of the state of Israel, but this is only possible in the long term if the future of the Palestinian people, too, is secured in its own sovereign state.

Aside from grossly over-estimating Germany’s influence, his aim is wild and wrong.

If Germany is to play a Middle East role, should it not start by putting pressure on Russia to end its support for the Assad regime, which has forced more of its citizens to leave the country than Israel ever did with the Palestinians? Shouldn’t it, perhaps, pull out of the football World Cup in Qatar, a major sponsor of Islamist terrorism? Mightn’t it do something to help regenerate the Egyptian economy before hunger breeds another extremist revolution? Shouldn’t it be concerned about chaos in Libya?

I have often endorsed Barenboim’s thinking in the past, but I find him wrong here on two counts, badly wrong. Germany is not the solution to the Jewish problem. And the idea that pressure on Israel – but not on the Palestinians – will yield a just and lasting peace is, frankly, absurd.


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The Steinway, we meant…


Watch the anti-classical advert here.

Now watch this.  To the end, please.

lexus ad

Duncan McTier, an internationally known double-bass player and teacher, pleaded guilty today to two counts of indecent assault and one of attempted indecent assault against young women.

The women were students of the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester and Purcell school in Hertfordshire. the offences took place in the 1980s and 1990s. More here.

McTier, 59, resigned today from his post at the Royal Academy of Music, from which he has been suspended since May.

UPDATE: He was given a three-month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work.

The case arises from a police investigation triggered by the conviction of Mike Brewer of offences at Chetham’s School of Music and the RNCM.

Further cases are pending.

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Leaks from the Bonn investigation into the tragic murder of Kate de Marcken reveal that the suspect has confessed to digging a forest grave for her during the summer. Kate’s husband, a Beethoven Orchestra cellist named as Sergey K, is being held in connection with the murder.

The couple had quarreled over their son’s education and, according to some sources, had separated. The defendant’s lawyer denies premeditated murder. He says: ‘This is a tragic interpersonal conflict that culminated in this act.’

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Watch Cox – er – here:


The UK original involved a Today programme presenter transposing two initials in the phrase ‘Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’.

He took a little longer to recover.

Ivor Bolton is conducting Turn of the Screw at the Staatsoper on Saturday.

Remarkably, it’s the first time a Britten opera has been staged on Unter den Linden, even though the composer was much admired by the Communist regime and conducted his own War Requiem on the far side of the wall in 1968.

Maybe they thought Screw was too … spooky.

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The International Ski Federation has found that qualification results for the violinist Vanessa-Mae, who competed for Thailand in the last Olympics at Sochi, were comprehensively fixed. Vanessa-Mae, 35, has been banned from skiing for four years.

She finished last in her event and used the stunt as a publicity vehicle to reignite a faltering career.

Full report here.


A new ad from the Japanese car-maker is a slap in the face for classical music.

lexus ad

The first thing that strikes your ear is that the orchestral sound has been doctored and slightly speeded up to make it sound glassy and repulsive. Then you get to see that the musicians are old and creepy. This car is for the young, screams the ad, as classical music is not.

Melbourne cellist Paul Ghica has posted a protest here.

Lexus would not dare to show this in Japan. Please share it with your Japanese friends.

UPDATE here.

Mario Ajero, professor of piano at Stephen F. Austin state university in Texas, has a problem.

His 10 year-old son, Antonio, also a pianist made a recording of himself with public-domain orchestra accompaniment. Sweet. Then he posted it on Youtube. That’s where the trouble began.

Warner, claiming copyright, has ordered Youtube to take it down.

Mario is now trapped in a musico-legal internet jungle where nothing is quite what it claims to be.

Read his story here.

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