The life of Paul Verlaine cannot be mistaken for the lives of saints. Leaving his wife for Arthur Rimbaud, he went to jail for shooting the younger poet in a fit of jealous rage. Along the way, he wrote some of the most unforgettable lines in French poetry, set by all the great French composers and some of the most popular entertainers.

A radical new interpretation is my five-star Album of the Week. Click here.



We have been informed of the death of Jenny Ward-Clarke, a key (if shy) figure in London’s early music and contemporary music ensembles.

Cellist with Fires of London, and Roger Norrington’s principal with his London Baroque/Classical Players, she was a member of the Salomon String Quartet and taught for decades at the RAM and RCM. ‘A kinder person one would be hard pressed to find,’ says a grieving colleague.

jenny ward clarke

Ezra Laderman, composer of 12 string quartets, 11 concertos, and eight symphonies; six dramatic oratorios, music for dance, seven operas, and music for two Oscar-winning films, died on Saturday. He was Dean of Yale School of Music, 1989 to 1995.


Appreciation here.

The president of the LA Philharmonic will be teaching at Harvard from September to the end of the year. We want to join her class. Press release below.


borda dudamel

Los Angeles, CA (MARCH 2, 2015)— The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that Los Angeles Philharmonic President and Chief Executive Officer Deborah Borda will join the Center for Public Leadership community as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence. Borda is the first arts executive to hold the post. Her appointment will begin in September 2015, at which time she will take a four-month sabbatical from the Philharmonic.


Borda is widely regarded as one of the most successful arts executives in the United States, and is known for her innovative approach to shaping the role of orchestras in the 21st century. She has led the LA Phil, which maintains the largest operating budget of any American orchestra, into an era of robust artistic and financial health. In partnership with the LA Phil’s lauded Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, Borda has developed a portfolio of influential artistic and educational programs, including such high-profile initiatives as the in/SIGHT series, the El Sistema-inspired Youth Orchestra LA, and the most active commissioning program in the country. Her ambitious vision for the LA Phil, combined with her business acumen, has earned the organization an unrivaled reputation for artistic excellence and creativity worldwide.


Says CPL executive director Patricia Bellinger, “Deborah is an adventurous and smart leader. Through her bold management of the LA Phil, I’ve witnessed her commitment to social responsibility and her value of collaboration across disciplines—themes woven throughout our leadership curriculum at CPL. Deborah pushes the envelope, and we can’t wait for her to bring her expertise and savvy to our graduate students.”

The pensive pianist Stephen Hough never shrinks from expressing a provocative thought, even if it’s still in an embryonic form. This morning he has come up with a terrific idea. You are not Jewish until you live like a Jew, not Christian until you act like one, not a musician until ‘until the vibrations are excited, in the head or in the air or in the soul’.

Read Stephen’s blog here. I’ll join his next road show.

hough lebrecht

Denys Darlow, an influential teacher and conductor of historically informed performance, has passed away.
Founder of the Tilford Bach Festival in the early 50s and later the London Handel Festival, Denys worked with many of Britain’s finest baroque musicians and singers, most notably in rarely performed Handel.

James Rutherford writes:

While making my first tentative steps in the business I had the chance to sing alongside Emma Kirkby, James Bowman, Stephen Varcoe and Charles Daniels under Denys’ direction – a vocal masterclass in style and technique. Denys was a huge supporter of young talent as conductor, teacher and choirmaster. Perhaps this was most evident in his many years as conductor of Handel Opera at the Royal College and Royal Academy.

Denys was a man of strong faith and perhaps my most treasured memory of our work together was the Good Friday St. Matthew Passion at St. George’s Hanover Square (where Denys was also organist for many years). This was not a performance but an act of worship, sung in English in Denys’ own translation with a sermon before Part 2 and the audience/congregation would also sing the hymns when appropriate. What endeared me to Denys’ idea of ‘historically informed performance’ was not just the recreation of how the music was played but more importantly why.