Sotheby’s are offering for sale in November the manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s second symphony, following the death of Gilbert Kaplan at the start of the year.

The finished score only ever had three owners – Mahler himself, the conductor Willem Mengelberg and the financial publisher-turned-conductor Kaplan, who bought it from the Mengelberg Foundation in the 1980s.

I have studied the score in New York, where it has been conserved in immaculate condition.

How do you put a price on a piece of music that changed our perception of musical space and brought the symphony into debating the afterlife?

Sotheby’s are guesstimating £3.5-4.5 million, or around $5-7 million, which would break all known records.

Nine Mozart symphonies fetched £2.5m.

In my view, the Mahler Second is historically the most significant work of music to be offered for sale since Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in November 1982 (and I was there for that one, too).

I wish I had five million to spare.

mahler second ms

Guess I’ll just have to make do with the brilliant facsimile.

From an Australian study in Scientific American:

Although singers can generate very loud sounds, how can they compete with a large and enthusiastic symphony orchestra?

One strategy is to maximize their sound output at frequencies above 2,000 Hz. This is because an orchestra is typically loudest around 500 Hz, with the sound level dropping off quickly at higher frequencies. Furthermore, the ear is most sensitive around 3,000 to 4,000 Hz. To this end, singers often modify the resonances of their tract to produce a characteristic “vocal ring” that considerably boosts the sound output in this frequency range. This is of more value to lower pitched voices than to sopranos.

Ah, but how? Read on here.


joan sutherland norma

From the Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles Opera said unaudited figures for its recently ended 30th anniversary season show a 19.9% increase in the number of tickets sold and a 27.6% rise in ticket revenue compared with the previous season.

Read how here.

domingo woody allen

An Israeli-Arab student at the Barenboim-Said Academy was refused permission to take his violin as carry-on to an El Al flight when he boarded yesterday at Berlin’s Schoenefeld Airport.

Hisham Khoury, 25, says he was told he would have to check in both his backpack and his violin. Neither could be brought into the cabin.

Hisham, an Israeli Arab citizen whose family lives in Haifa, told Haaretz: ‘What order forbids taking a violin on the plane? It’s clear that such an order wouldn’t be given to a non-Arab passenger.’

hisham khoury

Hisham added on his Facebook page:

‘I am writing this post while I am being yet again humiliated by El Al and being deprived from going home like a normal human being.

‘I was first questioned for an hour by a security officer where I had to specify every single action I had done for the past 2 year and asked for my purpose of VISIT as if I don’t live there or don’t have anything with where I’m going to.

‘After a while I asked the officer whether he thought it was just the way I’m being treated just for being an Arab . He said so politely like a well trained puppet “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but these are the security instructions”.’



From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

As a general rule, I would rather eat porridge that has been left to stand overnight than listen to music of the Romantic era being played on what is supposed to be a period instrument and is actually a modern replica, made the year before last. In this case, a reproduction of an 1830 Paris Pleyel that was manufactured by Paul McNulty in 2010. I mean, why….?

Then again, ask any composer if he or she wanted their music to be played on the best possible soundboard or on a washboard and you’ll get an answer far more conclusive than the UK’s recent Brexit vote. So why am I listening — and vastly enjoying —….

Read on here.

And here.


As well as here.

As part of intensified security for this year’s Parsifal, the festival has banned seat cushions and handbags from the Festspielhaus. It is also asking patrons to arrived at east 45 minutes early for security checks.

‘Da erweiterte Kontrollmaßnahmen durch die Polizei nicht auszuschließen sind, planen Sie bitte für Ihre Ankunft am Festspielhaus und den Eintritt mehr Zeit als bisher ein.’

Opera house, or airport?


bayreuth fest fake account

There are going to be some sore rears after Parsifal.

Ricordi have announced a deal with Georg Friedrich Haas, who outed himself earlier this year for bizarre sexual practices.

The things a composer has to do to get published these days.


press release:

Berlin, July, 08 2016. Ricordi Bühnen- und Musikverlag, Berlin, is pleased to announce a new publishing agreement with the internationally renowned composer Georg Friedrich Haas. In 2016 Ricordi Berlin will release three compositions: a work for choir and chamber orchestra called Three Pieces for Mollena, Haas’ Ninth String Quartet and a concerto for trombone and orchestra. Several new works are scheduled for 2017, including an orchestra piece for Berliner Philharmoniker, a new violin concerto and an ensemble work for Ensemble Resonanz which will be played on the occasion of the opening of Elbphilharmonie, the new concert hall in Hamburg.

Born in 1953 in Graz, Austria, Georg Friedrich Haas is one of the most important composers of his generation and has received numerous composition awards and was honored with the Grand Austrian State Prize in 2007. Georg Friedrich Haas has been commissioned by Berlin Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra. Perhaps his most frequently performed work is his ensemble piece in vain, which is in part performed in complete darkness. In the 2015/16 season his opera Morgen und Abend (Morning and Evening) was given at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Georg Friedrich Haas lives in New York, where he is Professor of Music at Columbia University. He also continues as a professor at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz.


Irina Zwiener, the Weimar violinist whose Gewandhaus cellist husband, Hendrik, was killed on his bike last Sunday, has expressed thanks and amazement at the outpouring of generosity from the music community worldwide.

A total of 389 donors have given 20,072 Euros to help Irina with expenses for her and Hendrik’s baby, which is due in the next week or two.

Irina has asked the organisers today to end the fundraiser.

If you still wish to help, please consider supporting Henrik’s anti-hate humanitarian foundation here.


hendrik zweiner

We were at Garsington Opera yesterday for the final showing of the new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.



The setting sun shone through the glass walls of the stage, the audience was gripped and the production was classical in the purest English theatrical tradition, albeit sung in Russian. The director was Michael Boyd, former head of the Royal Shakespeare Company (and no relation of Garsington’s excellent music director, Douglas Boyd).

But the clinch factor, for me, was the ensemble spirit of a company of mostly young singers who are just stepping out on the world stage.  Roderick Williams made his role debut as Onegin and Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana, two stubborn characters on a one-way road to heartbreak. The all-English chorus, entering organically from the surrounding fields with the end of harvest, perfectly evoked an eternal Russia. The duel scene contained an indelible directorial innovation.

As we were leaving, a dickybird whispered in my ear that this was the first opera to be filmed at Garsington, and it was going to be shown in cinemas and on the BBC Arts Channel (which few know about and even fewer tune into).

To see the whole opera click here.

Watch if you can (I don’t know if its visible in the US). There will also be some cinema screenings.

One opera veteran told me it was the best Onegin of her life. I can’t remember one I have enjoyed more.


Photo: Garsington Opera/Marc Douet


Latin America is mourning the loss of Airio Diaz, the Venezuelan classical guitarist whom Andres Segovia named as the best of his generation.

Alirio Diaz, who was 92, was the dedicatee of Rodrigo’s Invocación y Danza and other major works. He applied much of his time to exploring contemporary composers and Venezuelan folklore.

He was, as you can see below, an incredible virtuoso.

The violinist Nikki Chooi, 27, has been plucked from the offbeat Time for Three ensemble to be joint concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera. Its a trial contract, one year only.

Nikki is Canadian. So is the incoming Met music director, Yannick.

What was it we were saying the other day about the Canadians coming?

nikki chooi


BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, which has been slipping down the visibility ranks, has boosted next year’s judging panel with the retired German baritone Thomas Quasthoff and the Korean soprano Sumi Jo.

This should guarantee late nights and much merriment (first beer’s on us, Tommy).

Thomas Quasthoff


The competition has also just changed its dates to avoid the idiotic 2015 clash with the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

Cardiff will take place from 11-18 June 2017. Application deadlines have been extended to next Friday. Apply here.