The German Culture Minister Monika Grütters joined Daniel Barenboim at the topping-out ceremony of his orchestral academy, calling the project ‘a small contribution to the peace process in the Middle East’. The German government is pumping in 20 million Euros out of a total construction cost of 33.7m.

The building, designed by Frank Gehry, is on the site of a former warehouse of the Staatsoper on Unter den Linden. Due to open in 15 months’ time, it will house 100 students from the Middle East for a 3-year degree course in music and philosophy.


barenboim said academy


muti blackhawks
photo: Emily Master

Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, and guess who’s lovin’ it. A great competitor.

We reported earlier, in a Slipped Disc exclusive, that Ukraine-born Denis Bouriakov, 33, principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, has accepted the same post at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

We now understand that the Met’s other principal flute, Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson, has won the vacant principal seat in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.



stefan rangar h


To lose one principal flute is unfortunate. To lose both smacks of something rotten going on at the Met.

We hear that several younger members of the orchestra are auditioning elsewhere this summer.

There is a feeling that Peter Gelb does not care much for anything that is not seen on stage. He was overheard saying, ‘the orchestra doesn’t have to always sound that great’. Musicians are drawing their own conclusions. They are voting with their feet.

We understand that Denis Bouriakov has won the audition for principal flute at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will head west in November, as soon as his Met contract comes to an end.

Denis, 33, Ukraine born, has been one of the Met orchestra’s stars, sharing the principal seat with Stefan Rangar Hoskuldsson. His departure will be a blow for Levine’s ensemble and reflects continuing  unhappiness among musicians after the labour dispute provoked last year by Peter Gelb.

Gustavo Dudamel, on the other hand, is said to be ‘delighted’.


denis bouriakov

UPDATE: Now the Met’s other principal flute resigns.


The Belgian mezzo-soprano Lucienne-Delvaux passed away on June 9th, in her 99th year. A member of the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels from 1953 to 1955, she sang one season at the Paris Opéra before returning to live in Belgium, appearing annually in many of the French opera houses well into the 1970s.


h/t: Basia Jaworski

A tweet from Rupert Christiansen prompts us to take a closer look at the Royal Opera House accounts for the year ended 31 August 2014, the more so in light of Peter Gelb’s inflated salary at the Metropolitan Opera.

What we find is that Sir Antonio Pappano took home just under £539,000 ($840k), which is not far out of line for a hard-working music director in his 14th year of service. Pappano draws a second salary at Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Larger than expected were the next two highest earners. Kasper Holten, head of opera, pulls down just under £289,000 and Alex Beard, the chief executive, just over £250,000.

That is still less than one-sixth of Gelb’s whack, but it’s creeping up.


A coalition of five orchestras has forged a new outlet called Classical Live on Google Play Music. The project does what it says on the brand: it offers recordings of live performances through a specialist classical wing of the giant Google machine.

The participating orchestras and conductors are:

Cleveland Orchestra & Music Director Franz Welser-Möst; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Andris Nelsons; London Symphony Orchestra; Sir John Eliot Gardiner; New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Mariss Jansons.

The LSO is the only one not offering performances by its music director; the Concertgebouw offers only concerts by its former music director. The initiative is curated by Jessica Lustig of 21C Media Group.

Andris Nelsons calls it ‘an extraordinary moment as I begin my new musical life with the wonderful Boston Symphony Orchestra.’ Gary Hanson of the Cleveland Orchestra said the ‘new platform promises a prominent place for the latest orchestral performances world-wide. For Cleveland, “Classical Live” will meaningfully complement our ongoing program of radio broadcasts and televised concerts, and our regular CD and DVD releases.’




Before you get too excited, a preliminary search shows a charge of £4-8 in the UK (apparently $4.99 in the US) to download a full symphony from GooglePlay. Click here for Classical-Live. The site is still in development, as is the business model.



The death of Walter Weller has brought an outpouring of sympathy and fond memories from players in the many orchestras he conducted. Nowhere more so than in the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, where Weller’s credit ran so high in the 1990s that the Scots put his image on a £50 note.

That’s real money you see below, worth $75.

weller £50

Old-fashioned in the best musical sense of the term, he was an inveterate smoker. He preferred pipes during the day – he carried a set of six – and a cigar after dinner. He would always offer cigars to the rest of the company.

walter weller US

The elderly former artistic director of the Palau de les Arts in Valencia was arrested at dawn in January on suspicion of misuse of public funds. She was not charged with any offence but her passport was confiscated and she cannot leave the country. She is further obliged to report to a police station twice a month.

The investigating judge has gone on sick leave and there is no sign when Helga’s torment might end.

Helga is in her 70s and in need of medical attention. Her salary was stopped in January and she is living in a hotel, at her own expense. Placido Domingo and Zubin Mehta have issued statements proclaiming her complete innocence on these politically motivated charges. We publish below an open letter by Helga, clarifying her position.

In the interests of natural justice and human rights, we appeal to the Spanish authorities to give Helga Schmidt back her passport and allow her to return home to Vienna, where she can recover her health in peace and quiet. To detain her any longer through a hot Valencia summer is no less than an abuse of process – the sadistic torture of a sick lady who has done no harm and deserves a great deal more respect than Spain has seen fit to show her.

Spain: Let Helga Schmidt go.




Open letter from Helga Schmidt

In response to the many different versions circulating about the events of January 20th I would like to set the matter straight. I have not done so until now because I was trying to shed some more light on the situation and reorganising practical aspects of my life after 15 years of work, and finally, dealing with health problems (a part of my life which I would honestly rather have preferred to keep private). But I would like to make it known that I am doing my utmost to demonstrate to the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, the people of Valencia and the whole world who follow events within the world of art and culture, that the accusations that have been levelled at me are absolutely baseless.

Obviously sad and bewildered by the spectacle of this defamatory campaign, I nevertheless wish to thank the judges and the police who participated in the search. They behaved courteously towards me and immediately understood the situation and the person they were facing. I must also say that I cooperated fully and unconditionally with the Spanish judiciary and that on the same night of January 20th I was released pending trial. I look forward to the day when I can explain and defend myself in the context of a police interrogation, even though my advocate has confirmed me already that in the requisitioned documentation the Police did not find anything that the Generalitat and its control bodies did not know already before the search.

There was also no reason for me to resign and my dismissal from the post of Intendant and Artistic Director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía was not carried out according to current legislation, but rather in compliance with code of ethics adopted solely for regional political posts of free designation.

Today, as I already said, I am working to show as quickly as possible that from the beginning of my term as Intendant I have put (as I always have throughout my long and respectable career) all my love, passion and experience as well as my professional artistic and economical accuracy and transparency, to serving the emerging Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. This economical accuracy can easily be proven with all the documents that I always signed jointly with the successive administrators. For 15 years I worked day and night to achieve the very best for the theatre of which I was the Intendant, giving up any thoughts of a private life. Despite its short life, the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía inaugurated on October 8th 2005 with symphonic concerts conducted by Lorin Maazel and Zubin Mehta, who also inaugurated the first season on October 25th 2006 with Fidelio, has become of one of the most important theatres in the world and this is evident for all to see.

Such outstanding conductors as Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Chailly, Georges Prêtre, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski and many others as Plácido Domingo who above all as singer, have appeared in my seasons all these years at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía and have always returned with pleasure, expressing their joy at working in such an environment, an ‘’happy island of art‘’ to work in, not just in Spain but throughout the world.

This year the season is stunning too: even with the budget cuts in recent years I have managed to maintain the highest quality and I am very proud of this. I would have liked to see personally the results of my work together with the staff of my theatre but I have been prevented from doing so: the maliciousness and pettiness of some people have prevailed and they succeeded in having me dismissed. However, I must say that they will never destroy my reputation and the extraordinary concept of theatre that I have created in our Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

And finally I would like to thank all the artists, theatre general managers, mass media -national and international-, and the audience itself, for all their support and solidarity they have demonstrated to me during this difficult period.

The career of Carlos Izcaray is taking off. Five months ago, he landed a US orchestra. Now he has worldwide management with Hazard Chase. Carlos is an outspoken critic of routine Venezuelan regime torture and violence against its citizens, having himself been a victim of police torture.

carlos izcaray