In the second week of his trial for the murder of his wife, the pianist Kate de Marcken, the principal cellist of the Beethoven Bonn Orchestra, Sergei Kurochkin, broke his silence for the first time.

Speaking through his lawyer, Kurochkin admitted hitting his wife with a metal bar after she threatened to leave him and take their son away. He then suffocated her with a plastic bag before hiding the body in a cellar. Finally, he buried her in the woods, outside the town. More here (auf Deutsch).

katherine m


The International Chamber Choir Competition has just ended at Marktoberdorf. Choirs from all over the world shared in the prizes, many with new works written specially for the occasion.

Imagine their dismay when the jury president, Georg Grün, declared: ‘These are 200 pieces that the world doesn’t need.’

Glad you got that off your chest, Georg.

The organisers are running around like crazy trying to stop his remarks going to press, but a participant quickly leaked to Slipped Disc. Sorry about that.

chamber choir

Yesterday, the Post revealed that born-again whistle-blower Reynold Levy had wangled himself a $600,000 golden goodbye bonus on stepping down as head of Lincoln Center. That’s on top of his $1.3m salary. Nice.

Today, the Post reports that the new Tom Cruise film will open at the Vienna State Opera, where one of its scenes was shot. That’s a first for Vienna and a last, again, for the New York Times. Don’t they have any culture news that’s fit to print?

tom cruise vienna


The widely-known and loved Tanya Prochazka has died at 62, after a nine-year struggle with ovarian cancer.

Australian by birth, a grandaughter of the conductor Albert Coates, Tanya studied with Jacqueline du Pre and Janos Starker and played in various UK orchestras before settling in 1986 with her family in Edmonton, Canada, where she was professor at the University of Alberta and conductor of the university orchestra.

She was the twin sister of the baroque violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch.

tanya procha

Our condolences to her family.

Congratulations to the heroic Stephen Gould on joining the elect of the Vienna Opera.

press release below.

stephen gould

press photo: ROH/Clive Barda
Der amerikanische Heldentenor Stephen Gould, der derzeit den Siegfried in Wagners “Ring des Nibelungen” im Haus am Ring verkörpert, wurde heute, Mittwoch, 27. Mai 2015 im Teesalon der Wiener Staatsoper mit dem Titel “Österreichischer Kammersänger” ausgezeichnet. Die Verleihung erfolgte durch Kulturminister Dr. Josef Ostermayer und Staatsoperndirektor Dominique Meyer.

Staatsoperndirektor Dominique Meyer zeichnete in seiner Ansprache die spannende und abwechslungsreiche Karriere von KS Stephen Gould vom Rossini-Tenor über den Musicalsänger (u. a. in etwa 3000 Vorstellungen
von The Phantom of the Opera), der * nach einer mehrjährigen Pause und erneutem Studium * schließlich zu einem der gefragtesten Heldentenöre avancierte: *Als ich Stephen Gould zum ersten Mal hörte, dachte ich: Endlich wieder ein Heldentenor! Ich bin froh, in dieser Zeit mit einer solch goldenen Wagner-Generation arbeiten zu dürfen. Wenn Du singst, sind wir sicher, dass wir intensive, aufregende Momente erleben werden und das Publikum große Freude haben wird. Du zeigst unermüdlichen Einsatz und bist unserem Haus sehr treu. Deswegen freuen wir uns, dass
Du Österreichischer Kammersänger wirst!“

BM Dr. Josef Ostermayer betonte: *Stephen Gould ist seit mehr als 10 Jahren in einigen der anspruchsvollsten Rollen des Repertoires an der Wiener Staatsoper zu erleben. Er hat maßgeblich zum Erfolg der Opernproduktionen von Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner oder Erich Wolfgang Korngold im Haus am Ring beigetragen. An bisher 70 Abenden hat er Rollen verkörpert, die Höchstleistungen abverlangten, und hat durch seine Gestaltung die Vorstellungen zu unvergesslichen Erlebnissen gemacht. All dies macht Stephen Gould zu einem der weltweit führenden Heldentenöre unserer Zeit.“
KS Stephen Gould erklärte in seinen Dankesworten: *Für jeden Opernsänger ist es ein Ziel, einmal an der Wiener Staatsoper zu singen. Das war auch mein größtes Ziel während meiner Zeit in Linz. Es gibt auf der Welt keinen besseren Platz für Musik als Wien! Und diese Verbindung mit der Wiener Staatsoper, mit dem weltbesten Opernorchester * den Wiener Philharmonikern *, mit so vielen großartigen Kollegen und dem einzigartigen Publikum lässt mich gesegnet und dankbar fühlen. Es ist das höchste, was ein Künstler erreichen kann. Und die Verleihung des Titels *Kammersänger‘ ist nicht nur die größte Ehre meines Lebens, ich sehe diese Auszeichnung auch als das Versprechen für viele weitere wunderbare Vorstellungen an der Wiener Staatsoper.“

The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet has published a ferocious attack on the management of the Oslo Opera by its veteran critic, Professor Ståle Wikshåland.  Under the headline ‘A Ship Adrift’, it attacks the chief executive, recruited from the clothing industry, responsible for removing the artistic leadership, leaving the company without proper direction. Wikshåland writes:

Things have gone wrong again in an attempt to establish a world-class Opera… On Friday afternoon, before the quiet Whitsun weekend, a press release was sent out by Norwegian Opera and Ballet saying that Artistic Director Per Boye-Hansen was leaving. Not immediately but when his contract expires in 2017. And he was not going voluntarily, but with a heavy heart. He made no effort to disguise that.

… Some of the greatest opera performances I have seen at home and abroad have been under Per Boye Hansen´s leadership here in Oslo. Boye-Hansen has truly built up the opera from the inside out.

The reponsibility points towards: Managing Director Nils Are Karstad Lysø. He has maintained a low profile since coming from Moods of Norway (a fashion manufacturer and retailer), but he should at least have learned that you do not change the repertoire and the workforce of an opera like you do with fashion collections…

The timing points to Lysø, rather than the Opera´s board under Ellen Horn which is finishing its term of office next week. So once more attention has to be directed at the way the Opera is run. And it has come in for hefty criticism from this newspaper, and from Boye Hansen himself before he became Artistic Director.

The model where the Managing Director is the ultimate boss is unusual, and it has only worked two places I know. At the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen and at Covent Garden in London. And it has worked because neither of the managing directors have taken it upon themselves to think that it was they who decided on artistic matters. And this is how it still works in Copenhagen and London.

What is Lysø thinking of doing now as boss of the whole outfit? And who are the world-class opera performers he thinks he can bring to Oslo, under the direction of Managing Director Lysø?

oslo opera

Michael Braunfels, whose father Walter was suppressed in  Hitler’s Germany and ignored for decades after, has died in Cologne, aged 98. Michael, a pianist, was a renowned Schubert interpreter. He did much to restore his father’s works to musical attention from the 1980s on.


Placido Domingo has pulled out of this week’s Traviata for family reasons.

He explains:

domingo abu dhabi

I am very sorry to have to cancel my upcoming performance of La Traviata in London on Thursday, May 28th. I am still in Boston and will remain by my sister María José’s side until she returns to stable condition and comes out of the Intensive Care Unit. I want to thank you all for your patience, your kind understanding and your loving support and prayers.


Richard Page, principal bass clarinet with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra from 1978 to 2014, has died of brain cancer, aged 66. A popular man in the orchestra, he was also a busy and influential teacher. Our sympathies to his loved ones.

pittsburgh halls


A glimmer of light and happiness from Bologna, where the new US-Italian president of Bologna Football Club, Joseph Tacopina, has launched a US fund-raising campaign on behalf of Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

‘I love the town. I love its theatre,’ he tells the local paper.

Together with artistic director Nicola Sani he has founded a US Friends of the Teatro Communale and will be pushing to raise funds from new sources for the outstanding ensemble.

Can any other opera house call on a football owner for support?

joe tacopino

Ranking educational institutions on merit is never an exact science. We’ve published a few such attempts before. But this latest list from the Guardian newspaper of the ‘top’ places in Britain to acquire a music education seems wider than most of any kind of mark.

It frankly beggars belief to put the Royal College of Music six places above the Royal Academy (pictured). Each has areas of excellence, but most neutral observers would place the Avademy first. And as for putting the University of Surrey above Oxford and Cambridge…. well, you might as well include Hogwarts, which seems to have a more stable future as Surrey embraces a rush of cuts.



1 Royal College of Music 100
2 Edinburgh 99.4
3 Manchester 99.1
4 Surrey 98.8
5 Oxford 95.9
6 Guildhall School of Music and Drama 95
7 Royal Academy of Music 94.3
8 Sheffield 93.1
9 Birmingham 93
10 Southampton 91.9
11 Durham 91.3
12 Cambridge 90.7
13 Nottingham 90.5
14 Birmingham City 88.2
15 Glasgow 88.1
15 Sussex 88.1
17 Newcastle 86.3
18 Brunel 85.6
19 Bangor 84.7
20 Royal Holloway 84.6
21 Royal Welsh College 84.5
22 Bristol 83.8
23 York 83.7
24 King’s College London 83.5
25 City 82.9
26 Goldsmiths 82.8
26 Queen’s, Belfast 82.8
28 Trinity Laban Conservatoire 81.9
29 Leeds 81.5
30 Hull

royal academy of music