french & saunders

Arianna Zuckerman has been given the all-clear. She is a singer, a teacher and a mother of two little girls under five years old.

In a frank video for Sexi Soprano, Arianna talks about the struggle, about survivial and the future.

‘I don’t have cancer any more. What a gift. I better make good use of the time I’ve got left.’

Her message: Get tested.

Watch. Spread the word.

Susanna Phillips will sing the national anthem before running the New York marathon today.

That’s the easy part.

Tomorrow night she’s down to sing Juraj Filas’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall.

No time to catch her breath.

susanna phillips

Shocked and saddened to report the death of Ricci Horenstein, a noted concert pianist and outstanding piano teacher who sepnt the second half of her long life in London.

A cousin of the great conductor Jascha Horenstein, Ricci fled Vienna just ahead of the Nazis and wound up destitute in Palestine as a teenager, in 1941.

The former Berlin cultural organiser Leo Kestenberg took her in as a pupil in Tel Aviv, giving her five lessons a week without charge and later employing her as his assistant.

Life’s circumstances took Ricci to South Africa and later to England, where she applied Kestenberg’s teaching principles in the purest form.

Lively, witty and borderline wicked, she was on fine form at our dinner table last Friday night. Her death comes as a shock to her many friends. She was, we think, 89 years old. No-one ever asked.

Ricci was well loved.

ricci horenstein

Brian Wise, the classical music writer and producer who was sacked by WQXR for alleged plagiarism, has responded with dignity and humility from  a link on his Twitter account. Here’s what he writes:

brian wise2

NPR and WQXR have identified some sentences and phrases in my work that were similar to those used in other media outlets. They are right. These unintentional lapses are entirely my fault. I did not live up to my high standards nor those of NPR and WQXR. I sincerely apologize for this.

I recognize that many people today hold journalists in low esteem, which makes these past transgressions all the more difficult to fathom, especially for those who work or put their trust in the profession. I hope to learn from these mistakes and move forward honing a craft I’ve grown to love over a 15-year career.

The New York classical music station WQXR has fired Brian Wise, one of its most industrious and knowledgeable writers.

Brian was accused of plagiarising other writers’ work in 10 instances recorded here. Several of the alleged heists are from the New York Times.

Brian is a well-liked colleague and we will not prejudge the case until more facts are known. On being confronted with the similarities, he offered his resignation. NPR outlets carried the story that he was sacked.

However, if every website writer who stole from Slipped Disc, for instance, were to be fired, that would cause a shutdown of the Classic FM site and the Violin Channel, to name but two of the most flagrant violators.

WQXR itself has lifted some of our exclusives without attribution, and the offender was never Brian Wise, but other staff journalists.

It may be that Brian crossed a line in his use of whole phrases, but it would seem that WQXR have acted with unnecessary severity when a severe warning would have sufficed.

We are sorry to lose Brian Wise.

brian wise

UPDATE: Read Brian’s response here.


From an interview  the composer has given to our SanFran friend, Elijah Ho:

‘It’s all a little bit of an act, this idea that German is serious and other things are frivolous. It’s just another form of performance, and I think this is one of the reasons that Beethoven suffered from such ponderous performances, particularly just after the war. You have German conductors trying to convince you that, ‘Yes, we may have lost the war, but this is still the most serious music’. Whereas poor Beethoven is really a composer of fire and thunder and huge natural power, natural forces, lightning, and he becomes this rather stodgy, heavy deutsche character. And I simply think that this is wrong.

‘I wouldn’t name the conductors because I think we all know who we’re talking about(laughs), but you listen to those recordings now, and I’m afraid many of them just sound absurd, and that’s why. So it was a sort of, a little bit, if you like, German pathology of themselves,­ ‘we must be more serious’ – and it’s clearly not true. You can’t hold Pelléas et Mélisande or Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony against a Beethoven Contredanse and say the German is more serious. It just doesn’t make any sense, really, and I don’t think anyone would think like this anymore – I hope not. For the German composers’ sake, I hope they get over this idea that they have to be very heavy and serious.’

thomas ades

Read the full interview here.

An official of the Paris Opera is under investigation for running up 52,000 Euros ($57,000) on a monthly bill while on vacation in Spain this July. It is suspected the person concerned downloaded movie on his or her laptop while lounging on a beach.

No disciplinary action has been taken. ‘We don’t understand this bill,’ says a bewildered boss at the Paris Opera.


Report here (en francais).

concert phones

It’s a personal passion of Martin Scorsese, who will direct, it was announced today. The script is being written by Josh Singer, who wrote Spotlight.

Let’s hope they’ve got someone good to look after the music.


What can possibly go wrong?

First City Opera. Then Gotham.

Now Opera Sacra in Buffalo, upstate New York, has sung its last. For 40 years it has featured to holier side of the dramatic art. The final show is Honegger’s Joan of Arc at the Stake.

Report here from Mary Kunz Goldman.


The pianist Evgeny Kissin has let it be known he’s taking a two-year sabbatical from transatlantic travel from mid-2016. He’ll continue to be heard in Europe.

Report here. 

Evgeny Kissin

Rudolf Berger, a former vice-president of Oper America who ran the Volksoper in Vienna from 2003 to 2007, has been declared insolvent after the collpase of his cultural consultancy. Assets have been seized and proceedings begun. See here.

vienna volksoper