Michael Johnson has sent us an iconoclastic piece he has written for Open Letters Monthly, deconstructing the complex relationship between former teacher and pupil, as reflected in their different styles.

At what point did Pierre Boulez say his teacher’s music made him want to vomit? The teacher, of course, was the great French composer Olivier Messiaen, and Boulez was his ex-student. Scholars have been trying to track down that unkind cut for decades but details remain clouded. Boulez has denied that he ever used the word.

Read on here.


And here’s Messiaen’s take on the subject.


This just in from our friends at Tarisio Auctions.

nude violin

They say: This picture bow, lot 123 from the New York sale, is in excellent condition but we think we just found a ‘crack’ through the lens!

nude violin


Brittany Musumeci, 23, was a recent music graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Her elder sister, Alexis Musumeci, 24, was an Air Force staff sergeant, heading for an assignment in Korea.

Both were killed when their Toyota was hit by a jeep going the wrong way as they returned home from a day out at Disneyland.

The jeep driver was critically injured.

Brittany Musumeci

Britanny, seen here with Yo Yo Ma, planned to open a violin teaching studio for underprivileged children.

Her college professor Bernard Zinck said: ‘She was really a special student, very talented, not pretentious, kind, respectful and she loved to perform… She had a very attractive, natural sound.’

May the two sisters rest in peace.

Brittany Musumeci with Yo Yo Ma


The semi-final stage has been reached of the Joseph Joachim international contest in Hannover. There’s €140,000 in prize money to be won. It’s not quite the Rugby world cup, but…

Here are the semi-finalists, announced today:

– Christine Lim (USA/Korea)
– Marina Grauman​ (Russia)
– Amalia Hall (New Zealand)

amalia hall
– Diana Tishchenko (Ukraine)
– Sergei Dogadin (Russia)
– Nancy Zhou (USA)
– Benjamin Marquise Gilmore (The Netherlands/USA)
– Ririko Takagi (Japan)
– Shion Minami (Japan)
– Ayana Tsuji (Japan)
– Anna Malesza (Poland)
– Richard Lin (Taiwan/USA)

The 2016 Barihunks Charity Calendar, out now, is designed to promote the art of baritone singing. All proceeds will fund the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of Baritones (F.A.B.), supporting competition prizes, new commissions for baritones and basses, and similar enterprises.

New York composer Clint Borzoni is already working on two songs for string quartet and baritone, to be premiered by Marco Vassalli in January.

This is Marco Vassalli.

marco roman

You can find others like him in the 2016 calendar, available here.

Oh, all right: one more. This is Cyril Rovery.

cyril rovery

The review site Bachtrack runs an annual poll for top orchestra and conductor. In a modest reader base, the results are easily rigged by well-organised interest groups.

This year’s favourite orchestra, announced today, is Dublin’s RTE Concert Orchestra. The winning maestro is conductor Jo-Ann Falletta. See here.

In second place, far behind, is the Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst.

That’s the value of online polls.


In an interview with soprano Angela Mitchell on Cleveland’s WCLV, the Met’s general manager outlines the ways he’s confronting a different demographic of opera goers.

‘We have to replace an ageing subscribing audience,’ he says, ‘with new younger ticket buyers who don’t plan their time and entertainment many months in advance. It’s somewhat more nerve-racking but we are thankfully selling more single tickets than we have in the past.’

He adds: ‘It’s a question of keeping the institution artistically vital to make opera appealing so that when we get people in the door they respond.’


Part of his strategy is to engage with hipster talent. He singles out the designer Es Devlin ‘somebody who not only works on the stages of leading opera houses but also is designing sets for Beyoncé and Kanye West.’

Hear the full 10-minute interview here.

Tribeca Talks After the Movie: "Wagner's Dream" - 2012 Tribeca Film Festival


Dame Malvina Major, who once beat Kiri te Kanawa into second place in a New Zealand singing competition, has given her last performance.

Dame Malvina, 72, told Radio New Zealand: ‘I haven’t got that youthful energy any more to counteract that stress.’

A winner of the Kathleen Ferrier award, she sang 30 opera roles and many concert arias.

Her educational foundation has nurtured Hayley Westenra and the tenor trio, Sol3Mio.

malvina major

The Memphis Symphony, which has told music director Mei-Ann Chen it can’t afford to keep her, has hired Robert Moody as principal conductor. Moody, 42, lost out to Chen in 2010 when both auditioned for the job.

The future sounds bleak: Symphony board chairwoman Gayle Rose said the board decided to hire Moody, a frequent guest conductor with the MSO in recent years, as “principal conductor” to provide artistic stability while the orchestra continues to emerge from recent financial difficulties.

photo: Arielle Doneson

This is the cover of last night’s programme at the Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen.

boulevard solitude

By Richard Strauss??

Actually, it’s the opening of 12 new productions, but that’s pretty impressive.

Among the new shows:

– Meyerbeer’s Vasco da Gama at the Deutsche Oper, never seen before in the composer’s home town;

meyerbeer vasco da gama

– Meistersinger at the Staatsoper;

– Tales of Hoffman at the Komische;

– First Berlin staging of Kiss Me Kate in a new Günther Neumann translation;

– and lots of theatre, including Ronald Harwood’s new play on Cornelius Gurlitt, the hoarder of stolen Nazi art.

Berlin’s the place to be this weekend.