And tomorrow, the sun will shine again…

An artist of outstanding quality, lost today with her husband and baby in the Germanwings crash. Maria was 33 years old.

maria radner1

Maria Radner, 33, a fast-rising contralto, made her Met debut in January 2012 in Götterdämmerung at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, followed by Die Frau ohne Schatten at La Scala two months later.

This season she was due to make her debut at Bayreuth under Kirill Petrenko in Rheingold and Götterdämmerung.

Born in Düsseldorf, she studied with Marga Schiml in Karlsruhe.

Oleg Bryjak, 54, originally from Kazakhstan, was ensemble member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Dusseldorf/Duisburg for 19 years. He commanded major bass-baritone roles on all the world’s great stages.

maria radner

The loss of these two fine colleagues in the Germanwings crash today is irreparable.

The Bayreuth Festival and Deutsche Oper am Rhein have issued statements of mourning.


The singing world has been devastated today by the loss of two outstanding professionals who were on board the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf that came down in the Alps.

The Alberich and the Erda of Barcelona’s production of Siegfried – Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner – were among the losses. We understand that Maria’s husband and baby were also among the victims.

Words fail.

maria radner

Short lives here.

We have been informed of the death of Mary Clarke, long-serving editor of the Dancing Times (1963-2008), ballet critic of the Guardian and London editor of the New York Dance News. She died at her home on Saturday.

Dance won’t be the same without her.

mary clarke


The Boston Symphony is inviting the city to spend a spring Sunday with the new music director – free of charge, first come, first in. Cool idea.

press release:

Symphony Hall will open its doors for a free day of musical activities for the community on Sunday, April 12, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in celebration of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Andris Nelsons. In his first public appearances since taking on the role of BSO music director this past September, Mr. Nelsons will lead a performance featuring the B[Symphony Hall (photo by Stu Rosner)]oston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus and spend some time interacting with visitors and taking audience questions from the stage. The Symphony Hall Open House will also provide visitors with an opportunity to explore historic Symphony Hall and enjoy fun family activities and a wide variety of performances by the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, alumni of the Tanglewood Music Center, and student ensembles from Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, and New England Conservatory. Emmy Award-winning arts and entertainment critic Joyce Kulhawik ( will host the event as the Open House master of ceremonies.

[Andris Nelsons (photo by Marco Borggreve)]

In what is sure to be the center point of the day, BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will lead the orchestra at 2 p.m. in a program including the magnificent Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, the third and fourth movements from Haydn’s Symphony No. 90, and the Overture to Bernstein’sCandide. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus will join Mr. Nelsons and the BSO for performances of Verdi’s “Va, pensiero” from Nabu[Tanglewood Festival Chorus (photo by Stu Rosner)]ccoand Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Lakes Awake at Dawn. Following the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus performance, Andris Nelsons will participate in an on-stage interview with BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe at 3 p.m.

[Federico Cortese (Stu Rosner)]The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, led byFederico Cortese, and the New England Conservatory Brass and Percussion Ensemble, led by BSO principal horn James Sommerville and featuring soprano Meredith Hansen, will give performances on the Symphony Hall stage during the Open House. A string ensemble made up of alumni of the Tanglewood Music Center; a chamber ensemble from the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra; Mixcla, a Latin jazz ensemble from Berklee College of Music, and members of Boston Conservatory Theater Division will perform in Higginson Hall throughout the day.Project STEP will also host a master class, open for attendees to observe the student string players working with BSO cellist Owen Young. A full schedule of events is available below.

[Instrument Playground (photo by Stu Rosner)]Family-friendly activities taking place at Symphony Hall throughout the day will include an Instrument Playground, where children have a chance to try out a variety of musical instruments; craft activities; a station for children to gettemporary tattoos; a composer scavenger hunt throughout the hall; and tours of the Boston Symphony’s new Archives facilities.

The board of La Scala has confirmed a new 5-year contract for sovrintendente Alexander Pereira, starting February 2016. He will be paid up to 240,000 Euros per annum, which is said to be the current legal maximum for the head of an Italian opera house.

It is about one-seventh of Peter Gelb’s package at the Met, one-quarter of what they paid his predecessor Stéphane Lissner, or equivalent to what a top conductor can earn in eight nights at La Scala.

pereira girl

James B. Stewart, author of a generally supportive article on Peter Gelb in the New Yorker, adds some edge to his investigation in an interview on NPR. He observes that the Met is presently selling 70 percent of its seats, as against 90 percent before Gelb, and that the audience is just getting plain… older.

Listen here.


A plaque commemorating Joseph Haydn’s residency in London – yes, those 12 London symphonies – was unveiled by Sir Neville Marriner at 18 Great Pulteney Street this morning.

video and photo: Frances Wilson

Her report:

At midday on 24th March 2015, to the cheers of the assembled crowd, Sir Neville Marriner unveiled a commemorative blue plaque in central London to celebrate the work of the composer Joseph Haydn. Sir Neville was joined by Denis McCaldin, director of the Haydn Society of Great Britain, and the Austrian ambassador, who both spoke ahead of the unveiling.

The plaque is the first dedicated to Haydn in London. When he visited for the first time in 1791, the composer was at least as popular as his contemporary, Mozart. Though Mozart has three plaques in London, until today Haydn had none, despite fifty years of attempts to establish one.

Taking inspiration from the successful subscription concerts of his day, the Haydn Society of Great Britain ran a lively and successful crowdfunding campaign to commission and install the plaque.

The Haydn plaque can be seen at 18 Great Pulteney Street, Soho, London W1F 9NE.

Frances Wilson
AKA The Cross-Eyed Pianist

Norman Scribner, founder of the Washington Choral Arts Society in 1965 and its conductor for 47 years, has died at 79. Read his achievements here.


Peter Dobrin reports from Philadelphia the passing of Harvey D. Wedeen, 87, head of keyboard at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance for almost five decades and teacher of dozens of fine professionals.

His star pupils include Marc-André Hamelin and Charles Abramovic.

Full obituary here.

harvey wedeen24z-a

Rosanna Purchia has been brought back as sovrintendente of San Carlo Opera, over the heated objections of the Mayor of Naples.

rosanna purchia

There is a Facebook page, demanding her dismissal.

Anybody know what she has done wrong?

UPDATE: Our ragazzo in the loggia reports:  ‘Nothing is wrong with Ms. Purchia, she is not the best intendant in the world, but in the end of the day she is not too bad, and she is kind of experienced… except that the Naples mayor De Magistris is against her, and wanted her out, calling for a new era of more ‘transparency…  Ms. Purchia had accepted an offer to be intendant at Teatro Bellini of Catania, but now she is turning Catania down and she wants to stay at San Carlo… The first three months of this year are counting as the start of “annus horribilis” for the way the decisions are taken about many top jobs in Italian opera houses.’

The picture we published yesterday of the great composer at (or shortly after) the funeral of Clara Schumann in May 1896 has provoked a plethora of information from scholars and afficionados alike.

First we can identify the gentlemen standing with Johannes Brahms in the picture (thanks, Eleanor Hope). They are: Heinz and Erich von Beckerath, Gustav Ophüls, Brahms, Bram Eldering, Alwin von Beckerath.

A fine copy of the original picture can be found in the Henryk Szeryng collection at the Library of Congress. A further set is located at the university music library in Buffalo, NY. Its rarity is well-attested.

brahms birdshit

In the above shot from the same set, Brahms appears to be cleaning his friend’s jacket of bird droppings. The matter is comprehensively clarified in an essay by Ilias Chrissochoidis of Stanford University, who writes as follows:

Brahms’ last visit to the Rheinland in May 1896 is well documented. The death of Clara Schumann, the great love of his life, threw him into a railway adventure in search of her final resting place in Bonn, where he arrived just in time to attend the funeral procession. Emotionally devastated, he then sought refuge at a private music festival at Hagerhof, Walther Weyermann’s estate at Bad Honnef. Brahms’ strong links to the Mennonite community in the area went back as far as 1880…

Obvious as is their historical value, the photographs remain practically unknown to the public and have been only vaguely recalled by Brahms experts….

In contrast to the image of a master that we have long been accustomed to, von Beckerath’s photos capture only Brahms the man and, even worse, his unimpressive stature. Indeed, Gustav Ophüls singled out the first one as evidence of Brahms’ height. He being 1.82 cm tall and both men standing on the same line,  he estimated his friend to be around 1.70 cm. Surrounded by people considerably taller (and leaner) than himself, Brahms’ image suffers and what remains clearly visible of his monumental head is the long white beard. Equally alienating is his apparently flirtatious posture next to hostess Emmie Weyermann only a few days after Frau Schumann’s funeral, an image clashing with existing reports of a mourning Brahms.

Brahms and Emmy Weyermann

You can download Professor Chrissochoidis’s full essay here.

h/t: Roberta Cooper