Compelling piano video, filmed last month, of the late Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Tomas Tranströmer, who died this weekend.


One of the weekend’s better lists. Read here.

fragile alto

Sample: You have to tailor your headshots for the only three roles you can get: witches, bitches, and britches.

Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host with a weekly audience of 15 million, is not a name that generally crosses the cultural divide.

But a remark by John Adams, introducing his new violin concerto at Lincoln Center last week, has roused Rush supporters to spitting fury. A neo-con commentator Jay Nordlinger was in the hall for the concert and drew the absurd conclusion that Adams had likened Limbaugh to the Taliban. So Nordlinger psyched up The Mouth himself.

You can read Rush Limbaugh’s full rant here.

This was a symphony for violin and some such movement or whatever, and the composer decided to take to the microphone and explain to the audience — it’s a black-tie audience, Avery Fisher Hall — what it was that inspired this particular symphony or piece or movement that he was performing, conducting, whatever he was doing last night.  And he said he had been in Paris, in Europe, and he was reading Arabian Nights, and he was reading other tracts.

And he was just stunned and he found out all of the discrimination and hatred and mistreatment of women in the Arab world.  And then he paused and he said, “You can find that here on Rush Limbaugh.” Nordlinger said what happened next sickened him.  The audience in Avery Fisher haul applauded for nearly two minutes.  The composer was referencing me as no different than militant Islamists and their treatment for women. 

Limbaugh has clearly never set foot in a classical concert if he imagines everyone is in black tie and a concerto is the same as a symphony. But leave that aside.

From this distance, it seems to us that these rightwing motormouths can dish it out to Obama and the Democrats, but they go running to Mummy at the slightest hint of a personal aspersion.

Let’s hear it for John Adams. He should get a radio show.

John Adams conducting Prom 4, 2012


Apair of British DJs have set up an online campaign to compensate a musician who, in 1969, co-created the most reused drum riff in popular music. The BBC has the full story, with musical inserts, here.


(riff at 1:26)

full audio history above

A survey of musicians’ mortality aims to dispel the myth that the great die young, 27 being the preferred exit age.

The research, conducted at the University of Sydney by Dianna Theadora Kenny, assesses all deaths of pop and rock musicians reported in the press from 1950 to 2010 and finds the median age odf departure to be 56.

Unfortunately, and for reasons unexplained, Prof. Kenny excludes classical musicians.

Perhaps because their high mortality would raise the average to 70?

amy winehouse

We alerted readers ten months ago to the phenomenon that is Stromae, a baritone rapper of prodigious musicality. Stromae – an anagram for ‘Maestro’ – has scored 240 million Youtube views with his haunting debut song, Papaoutai. His Youtube total exceeds half a billion, and he has just launched in the US.


Ask not the reason why, except that technology makes it possible.

Our friend Eric Silberger, a Lorin Maazel  protégé, has layered the complete set of Paganini variations onto one video screen, filmed and produced by fellow-violinist Lara St John. You see it here first.
silberger maazel
Beats playing scales any day.

The president of Norway’s parliament, Olemic Thommessen, has attacked banking secrecy in the Channel Islands and the British courts after failing to gain access to a trust fund he set up for his cousin, the brilliant theatre designer, Maria Bjornson.

maria bjornson


Maria, who died in London in 2002 leaving no immediate heirs, created sets and costumes for 126 productions, most resoundingly for Phantom of the Opera.

The fund is said to be worth £22 million.

Thommessen told an Oslo newspaper: ‘The whole English legal system is packed in all sorts of firewalls, where discretion and anonymity make it almost impossible to get access to cases that directly concern you.’

Full story here.