Sanford I. Weill stepped down today as chairman of Carnegie Hall, a post he has commanded with great vigour since 1991.

He is succeeded by Ronald O. Perelman, who has been a trustee for 27 years. Weill becomes president.

Weill is 81, Perelman 72.

You ever wonder why Carnegie doesn’t pack in the kids the way it did in Lenny’s day?

bernstein children

UPDATE: Perelman told the NY Times that ‘he was not much of a classical music enthusiast and would push for the hall to stage more of the pop performances it was known for decades ago.’

press release:

NEW YORK, NY—Carnegie Hall today announced that Sanford I. Weill, Chairman of Carnegie Hall’s Board of Trustees since 1991, will retire from this post after 24 remarkable years of service and a total of 32 years as a Carnegie Hall trustee. Mr. Weill will continue to serve as a member of Carnegie Hall’s board, transitioning to a new role as President, a title formerly held by the late violinist Isaac Stern. Mr. Weill is only the second person to hold the title of President since Carnegie Hall was established as a non-profit in 1960.

Ronald O. Perelman, a Carnegie Hall trustee for 27 years since joining the board in 1988 and a Vice Chairman since 2012, was elected today as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees at a meeting of the organization’s Board of Trustees. He succeeds Mr. Weill as Chairman. Both Mr. Weill and Mr. Perelman assume their new posts effective immediately.

Sanford I. Weill said, “Since my earliest days of being involved at Carnegie Hall, Isaac Stern was an important mentor to me, passing on his passion for this amazing place. The two of us shared a vision for what the Hall could mean one day as an important center for music education and a place to bring people together through the power of music as a universal language. I feel proud to have worked for so many years with the entire Carnegie Hall family to support and advance this vision, and it is meaningful to me to now share this association with him as the Hall’s next President. As always, I remain very excited about Carnegie Hall’s future, and I know that Ronald Perelman, a longtime advocate of Carnegie Hall and my very good friend and colleague, will do a great job as our next Chairman. I look forward to working with him, Clive Gillinson, and the entire team as we continue to forge the path ahead.”

Ronald O. Perelman said, “Carnegie Hall is known around the world for representing the best in music, and I’ve seen firsthand through my work as a Vice Chairman that the strong reputation that it enjoys today is due in large part to leaders in its history like Sandy who have been completely dedicated to fulfilling its mission. It’s a great honor and privilege to serve as the Hall’s next Chairman and to have the opportunity to build on such a strong foundation, working with the board, staff, and everyone who loves Carnegie Hall to envision a future that takes it into its next 125 years and beyond.”

Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director, said, “This new appointment appropriately honors Sandy Weill as one of the people who has most contributed to the history and legacy of Carnegie Hall. Sandy’s incredible show of leadership over more than three decades has played an essential role in helping expand Carnegie Hall into the world-class institution as we know it today. We send our heartfelt thanks to both him and his wife, Joan, for the extraordinary personal commitment that they’ve shown over the years as we look forward to beginning this new chapter together.”

Mr. Gillinson continued, “For many years now, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Ronald Perelman, a dedicated member of our board’s leadership, a passionate music lover, and someone who is deeply committed to Carnegie Hall. We’re delighted that he has accepted this new role as our Chairman and I’m excited to begin our work together, ensuring that the Hall continues to serve audiences and music in the very best way for many more generations to come.”

The international virtuoso Frank-Peter Zimmermann is locked in last-minute negotiations to hold onto the Stradivarius he has played for the past twelve years. The 2002 loan, by an executor for a bankrupt bank (WestLB), expires tomorrow (Friday).

Under the contract, Zimmermann has the right to buy the instrument, known as the Lady Inchiquin Stradivarius, when the contract ended. But two offers that he made, based on independent estimates, have been rejected by the executors.

Now time is ticking out. Next week, Zimmermann has concerts in New York and doesn’t know what instrument he will play.

Its not quite the Greek tragedy that is being played out in Berlin, but for the artist it is almost equally existential.

frank peter zimmermann

From the East London and West Essex Guardian:

A second world-famous conductor has backed a campaign to fight off cuts to a music service which educates tens of thousands of children each year.

Principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Simon Rattle, pledged his support over the weekend after performing with Redbridge Music Service (RMS) students at the Barbican Centre.

Simon Rattle Petition photo fixed (3).jpg-pwrt2

Click here for more.

AskonasHolt has signed Curtis-trained Diego Silva, 26, currently covering Faust in Paris.

diego silva

The great violinist has sent a letter to friends (below), saying he’s taking six weeks rest on medical advice.

Most artists would leave it at that. But Gidon sees a moral precept in all that he does. Hit by the unexpected tour withdrawal of Daniil Trifonov, a pianist he esteems, he faced demands from promoters that he hire a famous pianist rather than a talented young partner. Gidon proposed the most recent Chopin winner. The promoters had never heard of her. So he gave up in despair.

This is the second time that Gidon has exposed the music business’s ugly dependency on phoney notions of celebrity, its preference for established fame over artistic brilliance. His is a voice in the wilderness. We need to listen to Gidon before it’s too late.



Dear Friends,

Recent activity has left me feeling bereft of energy and somewhat frustrated. I have been dealing with the emotional strain of attempting to remedy the situation caused by the cancellation of a number of important concerts to be given by Kremerata Baltica in Germany. This was the result of the decision by Daniil Trifonov (the soloist on Kremerata’s February European tour) to withdraw – after six wonderful performances and for valid reasons – from the rest of this exciting concert tour. It would have taken him and the orchestra (a unique partnership) on to Geneva, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. The great young pianist is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive and genuine musicians with whom I have been privileged to share the stage. I therefore fully respect his decision but have been left feeling ill at ease about the promoters’ response to my proposed solutions to the problem.


I was particularly disturbed by the promoters’ focus on one “big name” only and the reluctance to consider others who would have treated the music with equal respect and professionalism. Not one of the substitutes I proposed was accepted. The Chopin competition winner and mature artist Yulianna Avdeeva was fortunately available on the required dates and would have been happy to play the two Chopin concertos originally planned, meaning that the programme, which also included works by Weinberg, Gorecki and Penderecki, would not have to be changed. She was wholeheartedly recommended not just by myself, but also by pianists of world-class calibre such as Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman and Daniil Trifonov himself. In fact, Daniil Trifonov was the one who approached me personally about finding a replacement. All these efforts sadly fell foul of marketing strategies.



All this gave me cause to reflect and to come to some personal conclusions. The concert series with Kremerata Baltica and Daniil Trifonov followed hot on the heels of our challenging and inspiring chamber music tour with him in the USA. As I observed – and thoroughly enjoyed – the depth of the immersion in the music by Kremerata musicians and Daniil Trifonov in preparation for the European concerts that were planned, I became increasingly aware of the limits of my own energy. This triggered the need to take action.

I have therefore decided to follow the advice of my personal physician, who has been cautioning me against over-exertion for years, and to cancel all my engagements – between now and 25 March 2015. I am aware of the uneasy consequences that this might entail for all parties involved, but I must follow my inner voice and seek peace (and health) of mind and body. It is nonetheless my firm intention to honour all previously confirmed concert dates after this short period without my usual activities.

I do hope that most of you will understand something of how I feel and my need for some “space”. I would like to express my appreciation of all friends, colleagues and promoters affected by my cancellations. I am particularly grateful to Julia Nees of June Artists, our manager, for her efforts and understanding. My special thanks also go to the members of Kremerata Baltica, an ensemble with which I have had the pleasure of playing and touring for over 18 years. I do hope that during my temporary withdrawal, solutions can be found to enable Kremerata Baltica’s concerts to continue as planned.

I consider myself a professional and a man of his word. It always hurts me to break my commitments and I sincerely apologise for doing so. Music born under pressure and tension cannot, however, serve great scores. Pretending to be focused while being over-tired is an act of deception. I consider it my duty to deliver sincere sounds – and thus to give a true reflection of the creations of wonderful composers. I would feel a “traitor” if I were to act otherwise. By taking this self-imposed step of restraint, I hope to fully absorb the lesson that schedules often imposed by managerial institutions should not tempt performing artists (including myself) to do more and more. We are often our own worst enemies in that respect and need to learn to tame our insatiable desire to be everywhere at once. We should never allow anyone to make us “tools” of the industry or to become victims of our own ambitions.

The limelight in which some of the “rising stars” seem to bask can all too easily turn against them – as often happens on the pop music scene. I simply want to remind myself and all those who share my aspirations and love for music, those with whom I have spent happy decades sharing the values of music-making on world stages, to be prudent with their energy. The recent incidents should serve as a warning to my friends and colleagues not to overdo it.

Ultimately, we should be able to live with music as a “friend”, one which allows us – as we share sounds and honour their creators – to enjoy all aspects of life. I hope to pursue that goal for many more years yet.

With best regards,

Gidon Kremer

gidon kremer

It crops up at 4’50” in this newly uploaded concert video. And then Barbara Hannigan starts conducting.

Check it out.

rattle hannigan

The violinist Daniel Hope has written a touching piece today for the Wall Street Journal on Hollywood’s forgotten souls, the Hitler musician exiles who found refuge beneath an alien sun. Daniel has written a book about them (out this summer) and tells us he wants to make a film.

Sample text:

A composer who had once been a student of Ravel’s might find himself writing a Viennese waltz one minute, a cowboy song or a Can-Can the next.

Eric Zeisl, a forgotten master and one of the youngest of the émigré composers, received no screen credits for the two-dozen feature films he scored. He died at age 53, far too young, but not before completing several concertos, four ballets and some stunning chamber works.

Neither Schoenberg nor Zeisl could deal with the studio ethos. Composers had to deliver fast, and invariably their music would be reorchestrated, chopped up or even discarded.

More here.

korngold piano

pictured: E. W. Korngold at work in Hollywood

Joseph Schmidt was Berlin’s foremost tenor in 1933, when he was forced as a Jew to emigrate. After settling in France, he was forced to flee once again. He died in Switzerland in 1942 after being held in a refugee camp. He was just 38.

The Nazis wiped many of Schmidts broadcast tapes, but one has just turned up in private hands. Listen, and marvel, right here.





h/t: Basia Jaworski


Bavarian State Opera has announced a date for its most challenging commission. It’s an opera by a Czech composer, Miroslav Srnka, on the fateful 1911-12 race to the South Pole between Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian team and Robert Falcon Scott’s British expedition. Amundsen won by 33 days. Scott died on the return to base.

Rolando Villazon will sing the role of Scott. Thomas Hampson will play Amundsen.

Hans Neuenfels directs. Kirill Petrenko conducts.

Luxury casting. Opens January 2016.


From our science correspondent:



Cells use their DNA code in different ways, depending on their jobs — just as the orchestra in this video can perform one piece of music in many different ways. The combination of changes in gene expression in a cell is called its epigenome.

For more than a decade, scientists have had access to a reference human genome. Now, the equivalent for the epigenome has been published, in a collection of papers appearing on 18 February in Nature and several other journals. A large international group of researchers has put together 111 epigenomes from different human cell types, including all the major organs, immune cells and embryonic stem cells.

In an extraordinary act of cultural diplomacy, the violinist Anne Gravoin – who is married to Prime Minister Manuel Valls – took the Alma Chamber Orchestra to play in Algiers this week.

The conductor was Lionel Bringuier, but Gravoin, a concert soloist and musical entrepreneur, is listed as artistic director of the tour.

She told France 24: ‘It’s a coming together. People can unite around music, listen to the same music together, and each person can experience it in a different way. That’s why we make music. We’ll give it our all for everything we play this evening.’

Algeria’s Culture Minister Nadia Labidi called it ‘a special moment’.

Relations between France and Algeria have been fraught with tension. France has a large Algerian-Moslem minority. The gunmen who attacked the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo were of Algerian origin.

Gravoin’s concert tour will have both external and internal repercussions. It is both a bold move and a brave one.

Watch video here.

anne gravoin

Most musicians go straight to Bach, do not pass go.

But which piece?

Solo, obviously. Probably keyboard. Ancient, or modern? Depends on the weather.

This worked for me today: Bach adaptations by Busoni, Siloti and Kempff, played by the Swiss pianist Beatrice Berrut.

beatrice berrut