Theodore Bikel, who first played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in 1967 and performed it more than any other actor, has died at the venerable age of 91.

As recently as 2009, he stood in for Topol on a US tour when the Israel actor suffered an injury.

Bikel was also the first Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music on Broadway.

He appears on numerous recordings in a wide range of folk songs in several languages, delivered in a fine baritone voice.

theodore bikel

press release:

nasa opera


Houston Grand Opera (HGO) will present the world premiere of O Columbia, a chamber opera created by an acclaimed team of artists: composer Gregory Spears, librettist Royce Vavrek, stage director Kevin Newbury, and conductor Timothy Myers—on September 23 and 24 at 8:00 p.m. at the Bayou Music Center. O Columbia examines the past, present, and future of the American spirit of exploration and celebrates the identity of America’s frontiersmen and women. O Columbia will be HGO’s 57th world premiere.

Informed by interviews with astronauts, engineers, shuttle mission trainers, and others from the NASA community, the chamber opera in three acts explores our culture’s fascination with space and introduces historical events of exploration as touchstones.  Each short act, framed by works for chorus, imagines a conversation that crosses space and time to create a unified story: we ride with Sir Walter Raleigh on the bow of his ship heading for the New World in the 16th century; sit with a teenager in her Houston bedroom as she experiences communion and later, heartbreak, with a Columbia space shuttle astronaut gliding around the earth; and finally we travel with future astronauts to the far reaches of the solar system, with Lady Columbia waiting to greet them.


John Taylor died on Friday night after suffering a heart attack while playing with Stephane Kerecki’s band at the French Saveurs Jazz Festival. The band have posted a segment of that performance, with John looking happy at his piano.

john taylor

Five months ago, the Boston Symphony Orch had to rearrange a concert at short notice after Vladimir Jurowski withdrew with visa problems. The conductor blamed his management for the failure

Today, Oliver Knussen pulled out of a Gunther Schuller memorial concert in Tanglewood for similar reasons. We are told that the visa he applied for five months ago never came through and even a Senator’s intervention failed to move things on.

Has Boston been blacklisted by Homeland Security?

NPG x33549; Oliver Knussen by George Newson

The violinist, Vaclav Snitil, a former member of the Vlach Quartet and a frequent soloist with Czech orchestras, has died at 87.


newsagency report: Prague, July 20 (CTK) – Czech violinist and university teacher Vaclav Snitil died after a short illness at the age of 87 years in Prague on July 19, his son, conductor Jan Snitil, told CTK yesterday.
Vaclav Snitil was one of the best Czech violinists of the 20th century. He was a direct follower of Otakar Sevcik and Jaroslav Kocian.
Snitil’s students at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) were many excellent violinists, such as Vaclav Hudecek, Bohuslav Matousek, Jaroslav Sveceny and Pavel Sporcl.
Snitil also chaired the jury of the Kocian violin contest in Usti nad Orlici, east Bohemia, for years.
Snitil was an active performer of classical music for over 55 years. He played with respected ensembles, including the Vlach Quartet, the Smetana Trio and the Czech Nonet, and as a soloist accompanied by the leading Czech and foreign orchestras.
He was a great interpreter of baroque music by Bach, Haendel, Telemann and Vivaldi as well as violin concertos by contemporary composers. Some of their works were written directly for him and dedicated to him.
The funeral of Vaclav Snitil will be held in the centre of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church in Prague 4 on Tuesday, July 28, Jan Snitil said.

Musicians in the Cleveland Orchestra have been sharing memories of the good old, bad old times. There’s a book in it, apparently. We’re awaiting first copy.




The MU has endorsed Andy Burnham for Labour Party leader ‘on account of his interest in music and the arts’.

The organisation has also pledged its support for Caroline Flint as deputy.

MU general secretary, John Smith, said: “The MU was particularly grateful to Andy Burnham for his support for the extension of the term of copyright when he was Secretary of State. This will make a tangible difference to the take home pay of a lot of our members and I believe that Andy would be a Labour Party leader who valued music and the arts.”


We’ve had complaints before about AirBaltic. Sarah Niblack got hit by them today:

I asked expressly in Paris because they have a sketchy “violin policy” on their website – and they said it would be no problem. This morning in the airport in Tallin, Estonia, they said that not only was my viola not included but it counted as extra hand luggage and therefore cost 60€ extra at the airport – or I could check it for 40€.

AirBaltic doesn’t accept American cards so it was impossible to pay online. The ticket ended up costing me 140€ more than originally.

AirBaltic – your endless appetite for marginal revenue is appalling. AirFrance – maybe it would be in your interest to pick a new partner in Estonia.

sarah niblack


Wayne Carson, who wrote one of Elvis Presley’s signature hits and much besides, has died at 73.

Here’s a full list of his Top 20 entries:

Somebody Like Me – Eddy Arnold (1966 / #1 Country / #15 Adult Contemporary (AC) / #53 Pop)
Do It Again a Little Slower – Jon & Robin & the In Crowd (1967 / #18 Pop)
The Letter – Box Tops (1967 / #1 Pop / #30 R&B)
Nine Pound Steel – Joe Simon (1967 / #19 R&B)
Keep On – Bruce Channel (1968 / #12 U.K.)
Something’s Wrong in California – Waylon Jennings (1969 / #19 Country)
Whos Julie – Mel Tillis (1969 / #10 Country)
The Letter – Arbors (1969 / #20 Pop / #26 AC)
Soul Deep – Box Tops (1969 / #18 Pop / #22 U.K.)
Mary’s Vineyard – Claude King (1970 / #17 Country)
The Letter – Joe Cocker (1970 / #7 Pop / #39 U.K.)
(Don’t Let the Sun Set on) Tulsa – Waylon Jennings (1971 / #16 Country)
No Love at All – B.J. Thomas (1971 / #16 Pop / #4 AC)
Always on My Mind – Elvis Presley (1972 / #16 Country / #9 U.K. // 1997 / #13 U.K. // 2007 / #17 U.K.)
Drinkin’ Thing – Gary Stewart (1974 / #10 Country)
I See What I Want to In Your Eyes – Conway Twitty (1974 / #1 Country)
She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles) – Gary Stewart (1975 / #1 Country)
Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets – Johnny Paycheck (1977 / #7 Country)
Ten Years of This – Gary Stewart (1977 / #16 Country)
Whiskey Trip – Gary Stewart (1978 / #16 Country)
Liberated Woman – John Wesley Ryles (1979 / #14 Country)
That’s the Only Way to Say Good Morning – Ray Price (1979 / #18 Country)
You Were Always on My Mind – John Wesley Ryles (1979 / #20 Country)
Barstool Mountain – Moe Bandy (1979 / #9 Country)
The Clown – Conway Twitty (1982 / #1 Country)
Always on My Mind – Willie Nelson (1982 / #1 Country / #2 AC / #5 Pop / #49 U.K.)
Always on My Mind – Pet Shop Boys (1987 / #4 Pop / #8 Dance / #1 U.K.)



Steve Roger, co-director of a Geneva concert agency, has been whisked in as interim artistic director of the Orchestre National de France. He starts immediately, on a one-year contract.

Radio France is in chaos. The fire has abated pro tem. Steve has sound experience as manager of the long-ailing Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneva.

radio france fire2

Last weekend, the Halle Orchestra assistant conductor Jamie Phillips announced he’s engaged to be married to Rosie Lowen. Lovely news, lots of happiness, tap your stands next time he walks into rehearsal.

jamie phillips rosie

Last night, Jamie got another engagement. He’s to be one of three Dudamel Fellows next season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Tap stands, please, very vigorously.

The other two Fellows are well known to Slipped Disc readers. Matthew Aucoin is a rising star with the Chicago Symphony and Adrien Perruchon upgraded recently from percussion to baton. Get stuck in there, fellows.

Lang Lang, we know, has his own perfume.

This is Gal Gadot, the new face of a rival cosmetic. She explains:



You’re brave playing the piano naked. What were you thinking during that scene? “Just sit tight! And don’t move too much so nothing will pop out. I used to the play piano, so I was playing notes, but I was also thinking so much about not turning or not moving this way or that. I really liked that scene because I thought it was so original, and it shows a woman playing this big, powerful instrument, liberated in her own skin, feeling comfortable, and celebrating her own femininity.”