Daniel Hope reminded us this week of a video we posted in the early days of Slipped Disc and which had a profound influence on his thoughts about Brahms. By some mishap, the video got lost when we transferred to the present site.

For those who missed it first time round, here’s Ilona Eibenschütz (1872-1967) recalling in immaculate English her studies with Clara Schumann and her close friendship with Brahms.

The next 15 minutes may affect your view of the late 19th century.

Ilona Eibenschütz

The Australian String Quartet has named two new members – Dale Barltrop, concert­master of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Francesca Hiew, an orchestral violinist.

They replace husband and wife Kristian Winther and Ioana Tache who quit eight months ago.

australian string quartet

John Fisher was Director of Music Administration at the Metropolitan Opera from 1997 to 2006.

He went on to run Welsh National Opera for four years.

We hear that John, 65, is returning to New York as Director of Music Administration at the Met from September 1.

john fisher

Vivendi announced today that Lucian Grainge will stay on as Universal CEO until at least 2020. That’s good for classical. He’s a fan.

lucian grainge amy winehouse

The Italian pianist Beatrice Rana, who came second in the last Van Cliburn competition, has cut her first recording with Sir Antonio Pappano in a new album deal with Warner Classics. Details below.

RanaBeatrice 160x160

Warner Classics is delighted to announce the exclusive signing of Beatrice Rana, who shot to stardom at just 20 years of age when she claimed the Silver Medal and the coveted Audience Award in the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

This month, in Rome, she has just finished recording her Warner Classics debut album with Sir Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. The thrilling programme – Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor, and Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto – is a bold statement for a virtuoso who ‘possesses an old soul that belies her twenty years, and more than a touch of genius’ (Gramophone).

In an interview with Repubblica newspaper in Italy, Rana praised Pappano as a ‘formidable conductor with prodigious energy. I admire his dedication as well as his rustic, hands-on approach. My grandparents toiled the land and this has had a profound impact on me: the cult of manual labour with hands which is so integral to our work as musicians.’

Born in 1993, the daughter of two pianists, Rana made her orchestral debut at the age of nine. She has amassed an impressive number of first prizes in international piano competitions, such as Muzio Clementi Competition, the International Piano Competition of the Republic of San Marino and the Bang&Olufsen PianoRAMA Competition. She was selected in 2010 as one of the six pianists taking part in the Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prize, attending a prestigious masterclass with Arie Vardi, with whom she now studies in Hannover. On 1st August, she makes her Verbier Festival recital debut, stepping in for Mikhail Pletnev.

We regret to share news of the death of Ludmila Dvorakova, who died on Thursday in a fire at her home in Prague.

Ludmila sang leading roles in East Berlin, Bayreuth, Munich, Covent Garden and the Met in an international career that lasted from 1960 to 1985. Czech born, her Wagner arias were distinguished by exceptional serenity.

She was 92.

Ludmila Dvorakova

The Guardian today runs what must be the 30th article we have seen about the failure of UK leaders to take an interest in culture. (I may have written three or four of them myself).

The Guardian’s premise is that we presently have the most philistine government in modern times.

Unfortunately, that’s untrue. It so happens that both the chancellor of the exchequer and the justice minister, George Osborne and Michael Gove, were seen at Wagner’s Ring this summer.

Not at Bayreuth (the last UK cabinet member seen there was probably Lord Young).

A Tory minister pays for his own tickets to Wagner’s Ring at unsbsidised Longborough.


thielemann merkel

Very good to see that Woman in Gold, which was sniffed at by most print critics, is now the top-earning independent movie of the year, grossing $33 million in 17 weeks.

The film, starring Helen Mirren, tells the story of E. Randol Schoenberg, a struggling LA lawyer, who defeats the Austrian government’s attempts to keep a family Klimt that had been stolen by the Nazis.


Read more here.

Our resourceful chers copains at resmusica have been having a conversation with Alain Altinoglu, a rare French conductor at Bayreuth, where he is in charge of the Lohengrin revival. In fact, he is only the third Frenchman on the hill, after André Cluytens and Pierre Boulez.

Alain is having a marvellous time, feeling his way into the extraordinary conditions that musicians endure in the covered pit. His fellow-conductors have been kind. Christian Thielemann, he says, gave him advice on how to cope with the extraordinary heat.

Kirill Petrenko he met in the corridor, about an hour after he was appointed music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. ‘He was so modest about it,’ says Alain. ‘In general, he’s very shy (timide), but a very great conductor. He talked to me about the fatigue that sets in when you’re rehearsing and conducting the four operas of the Ring.’

Je les ai croisés à des moments différents, ils ont chacun une grande expérience de Wagner et de Bayreuth en particulier. Christian m’a d’ailleurs donné quelques conseils très intéressants, non seulement musicalement, mais aussi sur la gestion de la chaleur en fosse par exemple. Il dirige à Bayreuth depuis si longtemps et il est totalement immergé dans Wagner et son livre sur Wagner est d’ailleurs extrêmement intéressant et brillant ! J’ai croisé Kirill aussi dans les loges, une heure après sa nomination au Philharmonique de Berlin et il était tellement modeste par rapport à cette désignation. Il est presque timide dans la vie d’ailleurs. Mais c’est aussi un très grand chef d’opéra. Il me parlait par exemple de la fatigue de répéter et diriger dans la saison les 4 opéras du Ring. C’est aussi une problématique dans la direction des opéras de Wagner, la gestion du flux musical, des tensions et détentes sur des temps longs. J’ai aussi invité mes étudiants en direction d’orchestre au CNSM à venir à la générale de Lohengrin. Apparemment, ça les a beaucoup marqués et je suis très heureux d’avoir pu leur permettre de vivre cette expérience.

Full interview here.


Questions have been asked about Chicago Lyric Opera ever since it failed to produce the usual financial returns at the close of its season.

Fears have increased since word leaked that the company is putting on cabaret shows in the run-up to Christmas, traditionally a busy time for family-suitable operas.

What’s up at the Lyric? We await those delayed balance sheets in trepidation.



The city council has decided that the iconic Meistersingerhalle does not meet 21st century ambitions.




It has voted funds for a new 1,500-seater and will turn the Meistersingerhalle into a conference centre.

When London gets a new hall, that must be the solution for either the Barbican or the RFH.