Two weeks ago, the Kazakhstan composer Yerkesh Shakeyev posted a Facebook appeal, seeking the whereabouts of his son, Safar, who had gone missing in the former

capital, Almaty.

Safar, 25, graduated from two American colleges, in Danville and California. The Kazakh authorities thought he might have been kidnapped for ransom.

His body has now been found in the Yessentai River in Almaty and condolences messages are pouring in to the family.

safar shakeyev

Marianne Ihlen, Leonard Cohen’s mid-60s lover and the inspiration for one of his greatest ballads, has died at around the age of 80.

A Norwegian, she met the poet on a Greek island. He drover her all the way home to Norway, but the romance was not destined to last.


so long marianne

Fiona Maddocks, sparing with her five stars, was utterly uplifted by the new Thomas Ades opera at Salzburg.

The world premiere of The Exterminating Angel by the British composer Thomas Adès (b 1971), long on the horizon, keenly awaited, took place on Thursday at the Haus für Mozart. It was the opening opera of the illustrious Salzburg festival, held in the city in which Mozart was born. (It is obligatory to add that he hated the place.) Salzburg has co-commissioned Adès’s new work, together with the Royal Opera Covent Garden (where it opens next spring), the Metropolitan Opera, New York, and the Royal Danish Opera. A 22-strong cast, including Amanda Echalaz, Anne Sofie von Otter, Sally Matthews, Christine Rice and Thomas Allen, gave a superb ensemble performance. When the composer, who also conducted, took his bow, the audience rose in prolonged ovation. This was a momentous evening: a turning point for Adès and, it felt, for opera itself. I am happy to put my neck on the line.

Full review here.


Tomorrow, August 1, will be Theo Adam’s 90th.

We wish him many more years of strength.


Vladimir Kehman, controversial and ambitious head of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg and later of the opera house in Novosibirsk, has been declared personally bankrupt by a St Petersburg court.

The ruling will remove him from all public offices by the end of the year.

Read more here (in Russian).


The Wagner festival is renewing its association with the major German label. Makes sense, right?

First off this production line will be video of last year’s excellent Tristan, condcuted by Christian Thielemann, directed by Katharina Wagner.

Next, however, will be this summer’s Parsifal, the almost universally derided ‘bloodbath’ production by Uwe Eric Laufenberg. Maybe they’ll just release the audio…

Press release below.



Katharina Wagner, Artistic and Managing Director of
the Bayreuth Festival
© Enrico Nawrath

Many notable Bayreuth Festival productions have been released by Deutsche Grammophon, including Patrice Chéreau’s “Centenary Ring” and the legendary staging of Tristan und Isolde starring Birgit Nilsson and Wolfgang Windgassen. Today the Yellow Label is happy to announce that DG and Bayreuth will once again be joining forces in a long-term collaborative project.

Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon, welcomes this new phase in a remarkable musical partnership: “By combining tradition-conscious interpretations of Wagner’s scores with an innovative workshop approach, the Bayreuth Festival has always played a central role in shaping the reception of his music. DG’s operatic repertoire will be tremendously enriched by its relationship with the Festival, which has already produced a series of inspired benchmark recordings. We are thrilled to be able to continue working with such a great institution, and look forward to building on what is already a significant musical legacy, following in the spirit of Wagner’s own exhortation: ‘Children, create something new!’”

Katharina Wagner, Artistic and Managing Director of the Bayreuth Festival, adds, “We are delighted and inspired at the prospect of resuming our association with Deutsche Grammophon and of strengthening and breathing new life into a longstanding partnership. We are very much looking forward to our upcoming joint projects with a label renowned for its rich tradition of quality and expertise.”

From 2016 onwards, a leading new production from the Festival will be recorded for exclusive video release on Deutsche Grammophon. First in line is last season’s critically-acclaimed, 150th-anniversary production of Tristan und Isolde, directed by Katharina Wagner and starring Stephen Gould and Evelyn Herlitzius under the baton of Christian Thielemann. The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised Herlitzius’s portrayal of Isolde as follows: “Evelyn Herlitzius makes this story of forced marriage very much her own. She both sings and acts with sensitivity, naturalness and radiance, bringing out the mysterious and erotic nuances of the role.” Deutschlandradio Kultur commended the production as a “feast of singing, crowned by Stephen Gould’s stunning presence as Tristan”, while Der Spiegel concluded that “conductor Thielemann was in top form”.

Next year, Deutsche Grammophon plans to release Uwe Eric Laufenberg’s new staging of Parsifal, premiered in the current festival season. The 2017 season will see Australian director Barrie Kosky’s Bayreuth debut with a production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, the film of which is set to be released by DG in 2018.

Ronen Segev runs a used piano business, Park Avenue Pianos, in New York. When he has too many concert grands in stock, he loans them out for free.

This kind of thing does not go down well with Steinway.

Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons Americas, said he wasn’t familiar with Mr. Segev’s business, but that he generally takes a dim view of the secondary market.

He’s heard all too many complaints from angry buyers, he said, who have wound up with what some in the piano world call a “Stein-was,” a Steinway that has been rebuilt or refurbished with parts from another maker or by a technician without the company’s blessing….

“The consumer can be very misled,” Mr. Losby says. “They see the name, and they assume that everything inside is Steinway.”

Read full WSJ article here.



The German pianist and conductor is making light of surviving an attack by a shark off the shores of Hong Kong, a disaster that put him on hospital for a week with leg wounds.

‘I’m back,’ Justus told a German festival audience. ‘Let’s just forget about it.’


Before you start trying to guess which work, it’s Verklärte Nacht with the LA Phil in March 1935, six months after his arrival as a refugee in the US.

Schoenberg conducts

A detailed piece of detective work at the British Library enables us to hear the first and last recording of the once-promising American pianist Marion Roberts, who was murdered outside Paris by her fiancé almost 90 years ago. Marion was 26.

Eighty-nine years ago, a sensational story flashed across front pages in France and the United States. Early on the 23rd of April 1927, in the Forest of Rambouillet, south-west of Paris, a quarry worker discovered a car stopped by the side of a road. In it he found a man, in the throes of death and holding a pistol, and a woman, apparently killed by her companion’s shots.

Read all about it – and listen – here.


marion roberts

This is Aaron Blecker, retired Manhattan CPA, talking to the Met orchestra musicians:

The first time I went to the Met was in 1936, with my future wife, Sophie Barman. When we were dating, we discovered that we both liked opera, but neither of us could afford to go. I wanted to surprise her, so I bought two tickets. To save up enough money, I sacrificed some lunches and walked with packages instead of taking the subway. We saw Tristan und Isolde. Lauritz Melchior sang, I believe. We sat in the uppermost part of the second balcony at the old Met at 40th and Broadway. Each ticket cost 55 cents.

aaron blecker

We loved it. It’s 80 years later and I still remember it. She was happy that I got it and we were both happy that we saw it. To go to the opera was a great treat for us. To be able to see it in person and hear the splendid voices…with the records you had a lot of static, and to hear the voices live was a much more thrilling experience.

Full interview here.

Aaron hopes to be present for the dress rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde this fall.

Friends are sharing word of the death of Peter Sadlo, one of the most successful percussion virtuosi.

He died of complications following a surgical operation.

Spotted when he was 20 by Sergiu Celibidache, Peter became principal timpanist of the Munich Philharmonic in 1982 and professor of percussion at the city’s music academy.

He added the Salzburg Mozarteum in 1990 and from there developed a major solo career. He could play everything, from Bach to bloues.

Last year, he was awarded the Frankfurt Music Prize.

Our sympathies to his family.

peter sadlo