The city cabinet agreed today to build a new concert hall in the vicinity of the Ostbahnhof. After ten years of prevarication and refusal, this is being acclaimed a triumph for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor, Mariss Jansons. The hall could be operational as soon as 2021.

There are drawbacks, however. At the moment, the development area is difficult to access by car. Cyclists and pedestrians can approach through two dark and dangerous tunnels. No-one has talked about building new roads.

We hear further that some of this development land is owned by a former Bavarian cabinet minister who is friendly with his successors.


A lobby group has formed to relocate the hall to the west of the city. This is not over yet.

munich ostbahnhof area

The revisionists are out to whitewash the great soprano around the centenary of her birth which falls tomorrow.

A Guardian journalist writes today: ‘ Whatever else she may have been, she remains one of the 20th century’s definitive artists.’ Definitive, in what sense? She created no new works*, influenced no-one and left few memories of anything except a lovely voice.

The two things you need to know are these:

1 She was an early and enthusiastic Nazi, joining the Party in 1933 and never renouncing her affinity. Her biographer Alan Jefferson believed she was the mistress of Hans Frank – governor-general of occupied Poland with a major role in the Holocaust – and that the 12 months she was off stage in 1943-44 were spent largely in his company, possibly overcoming a pregnancy. On legal advice, Alan was unable to publish the evidence in her lifetime (or his), but the dates stack up. Schwarzkopf issued a 133-page private rebuttal to Alan’s biography but never challenged it in court.

2 She was the least agreeable, generous and truthful of colleagues. The only hour I ever spent with her was filled with gleeful tales of how she had humiliated candidates for her masterclass the night before. The late Lotte Klemperer sent me three single-spaced sheets of untruths told by Schwarzkopf in the book on her husband, Walter Legge.

Sensational voice, beautiful face, unpleasant human being.


*other than Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress

Heinz Fricke, the East German who was music director of Washington National Opera from 1993 to 2008, died on Monday in Berlin at the age of 88, it has been announced.

Before his American period, Fricke served the East German regime as music director of the Staatsoper under den Linden for 30 years from 1961. He conducted 180 operas and won the regime’s state prize.
Schweizer Schriftsteller und Dramaturg ("Stiller", "Homo Faber", "Andorra"), aufgenommen im Dezember 1989.

Of all the pianists on earth, Coldplay have chosen the Georgian soloist Khatia Buniatishvili to appear on their forthcoming album, A Head Full of Dreams.

Apparently, the album will also feature a recording of President Obama singing ‘Amazing Grace’.

khatia bun

The Times published a letter this morning from Humphrey Burton about rumoured threats to the future of English National Opera. Not rumoured, actually. The Arts Council is anti-ENO, full stop.

We hear however that the Covent Garden music director is putting together a follow-up letter to try and get a Save ENO bandwaggon rolling.




Here’s Humphrey:


Sir, Rumours are swirling around the corridors of the British operatic world
that the chorus of English National Opera is under threat of emasculation,
perhaps even elimination, as happened a decade ago in Scotland.
Last Friday I attended ENO’s controversial new production of Verdi’s The
Force of Destiny. Certain aspects of the show could be criticised, but there
was universal admiration for the powerful contribution made by the chorus
under ENO’s dynamic new music director Mark Wigglesworth. Energy, power,
clarity: all were there in spades; in nearly 70 years of opera-going I’ve
never heard better choral singing.
I don’t think it’s going too far to argue that it would be cultural
vandalism to sacrifice ENO’s splendid chorus on the altar of economy. Such
radical proposals should be publicly discussed in advance of
decision-taking. Public opinion forced a rethink on tax credits; why not on
opera house cuts, too?
Humphrey Burton
Former head of music and arts at BBC Television



More than 1,000 gathered in a cold Helsinki square on the composer’s 150th.

Click on link below.

Sibeliuksen Finlandia Senaatintorilla 8.12.2015Näin upeasti Sibeliuksen Finlandia kajahti yli tuhannen laulajan voimin hetki sitten Senaatintorilla! Kansallissäveltäjämme syntymästä on tänään tasan 150 vuotta.Juttu:


 sibelius gallen-kalleia-drunk

Nobody wants any part of this hatemonger in their hands or on their face.


Obituaries of Nicholas Smith, who played the floor manager Mr Rumbold in Are You Being Served, report that he wrote string quartets for a hobby. (As one does.)

And one of his proudest moments was holding open a door for Ralph Vaughan Williams.

nicholas smith

The Latvian director Alvis Hermanis, presently staging Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust at the Opéra de Paris, is at the centre of a media storm in Germany after telling Hamburg’s Thalis theatre he did not want to work in ‘a refugee welcome centre.’

In a letter published by the theatre, Hermanis went on to equate refugees with terrorists. He called the city ‘unsafe’, claimed the 9/11 attackers came from Hamburg and opined that we are now in a war in which everyone had to choose sides.

Hermanis, 50, is a capable director who has become a summer fixture in Salzburg with successive productions of Zimmerman’s Die Soldaten (2012), Birtwistle’s Gawain (2013) and Il trovatore (2014).

It is not clear what motivated his unpleasant and irrational outburst but there are now growing calls for German theatres to boycott this wayward, Baltic personality.


Drew Carey is a nationally known TV presenter, actor and sports commentator in the US. He is among the biggest local fans of the Cleveland Browns football team, who are doing very badly this season. So he’s giving up.

‘You don’t have to support them just because they’re in Cleveland,’ he tells an interviewer.

Then Drew goes on to say: ‘Listen, you don’t want those Browns to be part of your mental state… You know, the whole ‘Cleveland is bad, the Browns are bad, Cleveland bad, I’m bad because I’m from Cleveland,’ dance. You don’t want that thing to be part of your brain. There are so many good things in Cleveland. Concentrate on the Museum (of Art) — it’s one of the best in the world. Concentrate on the Cleveland Clinic and all the great things they’re doing.

Go to the orchestra. It’s the best orchestra in the whole wide world, arguably, and it’s right in our city. Take the money you were going to spend on the Browns, take your kids, and go to the (bleeping) orchestra. Then you can have pride in your city. That’s the thing to be proud of.’

This is very good advice, indeed.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra should insert it as an advertisement in Aston Villa programmes. Likewise the Halle Orchestra.


manchester united fans

La Scala boss Alexander Pereira appeared before the curtain ahead of last night’s season opener to announce that the Spanish baritone Carlos Alvarez was sick with bronchitis. Devid Cecconi, making his Scala debut, stepped in as father of Giovanna d’Arco.

The Verdi opera, which had not been seen at Scala for a century and a half, went down well with Anna Netrebko in the title role. They applauded Anna for eleven minutes.


netrebko joan of arc

first pic from La Scala