William Harvey, an American violinist who has been working in Kabul for several years with a new generation of musicians, has published a video of one of his beloved pupils who was killed in the August 25 attack on the American University of Kabul.

Sam Sarwari, a dilruba player, is another innocent victim of political vanities.


sam sarwari


William writes: Dilruba player Samiullah Sarwari graduated from Afghanistan National Institute of Music, earned a scholarship to the American University of Afghanistan, and had started his second day there when he was murdered by cowardly terrorists, the enemies of Afghanistan and of Islam, on August 25, 2016. May Samiullah rest in peace. These pictures are from his performances. The playing you hear is his.


From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

My instant reaction to this 4-CD box was that it’s strictly for audio buffs and English music devotees, whose lives will be infinitely enriched by rummaging through the disused takes of Sir Edward Elgar’s recordings of his own works between 1919 and his death in 1934. My second response, on reading Lani Spahr’s nerdish essay on the masters in Elgar’s private library is that only the golden-ears, acoustic-era brigade would get much out of this. How wrong I was.

Read the full review here.

And here.


And here.


The 18 semi-finalists in the new Shanghai Isaac Stern Competition are being required to play the Butterfly Lovers concerto, a work that obtained vast local popularity in the late 1970s after the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Shanghai Daily reports that ‘It is the first time that a Chinese work has been listed on the designated program of an international competition, according to Yu Long, director of the Competition Committee.’

That’s as may be, but it’s hardly a work to demonstrate fine points of interpretation and technique at senior competition level.

Or is it?

butterfly lovers

The state of Saxony today gave up its appeal against a court ruling that the Belgian intendant was unfairly dismissed by the state opera before he had spent a day in the job.

Dorny got his previous job back in Lyon.

But he can now seek Saxon compensation of up to 1.5 million Euros.

serge dorny

Rudy Van Gelder, engineer on most of the Blue Note Records catalogue, has passed away at a good age.

He built a control room in 1946 in his parents’ home in Hackensack, NJ, and never looked back.

Thelonious Monk duly paid tribute to Hackensack.

rudy van gelder

At 0935 yesterday the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic were informed that their Proms soloist Truls Mork was sick.

At 1529 his replacement Alexey Stadler flew into Heathrow, little-known and 25 years old. At 1640 he was rehearsing on stage. At 1930 he made his Proms debut.

No announcement was made to the audience.

So how did he do?

Ariane Todes was there:

…This was an intelligent performance of Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, with long lines and beautiful phrasing. If it was under-rehearsed, there was little evidence … Stadler holds his cello quite low, reminiscent of Rostropovich, but as yet he lacks the weight of sound and depth of vibrato of that master. There might have been a little more ugliness and anger in the characters of Shostakovich’s acerbic concerto, but no doubt that will come with age. Indeed, the Bach (the Sarabande from the Suite no.2) suited him better, beautifully conceived, simple and unmannered, but expressive and meaningful. It certainly made me want to hear more from him, and I’m sure we will.

Read the full review here. 

alexey stadler

photo: Chris Christodoulou/Lebrecht

The man who owns Uber had a beautiful and versatile violinist girlfriend, Gaby Holzwarth, as we have reported.

No longer, apparently. According to Page Six of the NY Daily News: A tech insider told us: “Travis is under a lot of pressure right now. It’s hard for him to focus on a relationship.”

Gaby’s career took off when another tech boss saw her playing on the streets and hired her to perform at his party.

An everyday story in Silicon Valley.

gaby holzwarth

We reported yesterday that Musicfestperugia had shut down because of the nearby earthquake.

This, it appears, was not the full story.

The festival director Ilana Vered has accused the Romanian conductor Mihnea Ignat of attacking and ‘choking’ one of the teachers, John Holloway.

Holloway posted later that he is okay.

The police were called.

Mihnea Ignat posted:

1. The Italian Police declined on site the possibility of charging me or any other member of the orchestra with any kind of crime against any staff member of Music Fest Perugia as there were no crimes committed as far as they were concerned.

2. They also acknowledged the fact that Music Fest Perugia was not fulfilling the payments stated in the contract with the orchestra and with the conductor and advised us to hire a lawyer and pursue legal actions as they lack the legal means to force Music Fest Perugia to comply with the contract conditions.

3. I have the utmost respect and admiration for Ilana Vered musicianship as I also have the same feelings towards all the faculty members of the Music Fest Perugia. We shared magical moments on the stage and I will not let anything take that away. I am deeply shocked to find out that such a wonderful musician can agree and promote such an injust way of treating the young musicians of our orchestra who played their hearts out for the festival.

Ilana Vered writes: He refused to conduct the concert if not paid in advance in cash and walked out at intermission, then returned after a long while.

Perugia claims to be ‘the only festival in the world that provides almost all of its participants the experience and thrill of playing as a soloist with orchestra.’

We have sought further clarification.


Natalia Uvarova of the Moscow Philharmonic Society reports that they have sold 100,000 memberships for the coming season, and more are still coming in.

She adds that there is a good demographic spread, the new subscribers come from all age groups.

The Philhrmonic Society is the host organisation for the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1951, music director Yuri Simonov.


yuri simonov

Natalia writes: Более 100 тысяч человек на сегодняшний день стали обладателями абонементов Московской филармонии. Именно столько – 101 тысяча абонементов впервые за все время была продана к сегодняшнему дню. Сначала я хотела написать – Невероятно! Фантастика! Но потом поняла – что это никакая не фантастика, а вполне логично, естественно и закономерно учитывая, как тщательно, профессионально и скрупулезно подбираются программы абонементов, как внимательно ищутся исполнители и с каким пониманием относятся к слушателям, сколько усилий предпринимается – вплоть до замены пропущенных концертов – чтобы всем было комфортно. При этом – это не только успех филармонии, это скорее показатель, что классическая музыка становится все более интересна людям самых разных поколений.
Абонементы филармонии стали нормой для многих. Ну правда, а куда еще ходить как не в филармонию.
Кстати, продажи еще не закрыты. В начале осени еще можно купить хорошие абонементы. Впрочем, плохих в филармонии просто не выпускают.

This looks remarkably like a digital background set…. they are coming more and more into use.

The production is Cenerentola at the Innsbruck Festival.

cenerentola innsbruck

Photos: Innsbrucker Festwochen/ Rubert Larl


cenerentola innsbruck2

UPDATE: The designer assures us (see Comments) that this is not a digital set. It’s hand-painted.

Message just in from Jane Gordon, whose violin was stolen on a train coming in to Waterloo:

Hi Norman, 

I thrilled to announced the violin was handed back safe & sound to me this evening – nothing missing. Thank you very much for posting and helping spread the word. Relieved beyond words can describe!
jane gordon maggini violin

But see also I never saw my stolen viola again.

UPDATE: It appears that Jane left her 300 year-old violin on a luggage rack. CCTV showed it being taken by another passenger. It was found dumped on a residential street in Battersea.’It was an incredibly emotional moment seeing the violin again, which does not have a scratch on it,’ she told getwestlondon.

Krzysztof Chorzelski, violist of the Belcea Quartet, has taken issue with Mica Levi’s world premiere, Signal Before War, performed last Saturday as one of the new works at the BBC Proms.

Once you’ve listened to the short piece, you might well be inclined to agree.

Point, what point?

Here’s Krzystof:

On Saturday 20 August at this year’s London Sinfonietta’s BBC Prom concert a new work entitled “Signal Before War” was given its world premiere. Ever since hearing this piece a very strong feeling of rage has been mounting in me. After giving it some thought I decided that I cannot remain silent in the face of what I consider nothing short of an outrage.

What is “Signal before War”?

It is a work for solo violin consisting of a long and slow slide from the bottom of the violin’s register to the top lasting three and a half minutes. The sound produced by the violinist becomes louder and louder as the pitch rises and at the top of the ascent the performer uses vibrato.

That’s it. My description is not a rough outline of the work’s structure – it is a fully comprehensive, detailed account of literally everything about “Signal Before War”.

And it is literally everything about “Signal Before War” that I find offensive.

To call a three-minute slide a “musical composition” would be extremely far-fetched and patronising at a music workshop for school-children with no prior exposure to music.

To commit a three-minute slide to pen and paper and then to send it to the British Broadcasting Corporation in return for a fee (paid for by the taxpayer) is an act of extraordinary arrogance.

But to call this three-minute slide “Signal Before War” is just vile cynicism – a shameless attempt to give gravitas and “contemporary edge” to one’s sterility by tapping into the images of our world’s very real pain and suffering.

And yet, amongst the reviewers present at the event we have the Evening Standard’s Nick Breckenfield who finds that the piece has “the power of intense stillness within constant slow-motion” and the Guardian’s Tim Ashley who calls it “brilliant”.

I am a classical musician – a performer reasonably versed in the musical landscape of our day. I have a keen interest in the music being written nowadays and I regularly commission works from composers whose music speaks to me. I have a pretty good idea of what it means and how much it takes to hone one’s musical craft. I know that achieving true musical expression requires taking risks, not being afraid of failure and of what the others think about us.

I am quite sure that “Signal Before War” has none of the above qualities. It doesn’t, therefore, deserve even to be considered a failure. Its’ long sonic assent needs to be recognised for what it is – it’s a three-and-a-half-minute-long winding up of the composer’s middle finger in our direction and, even more importantly: in the direction of true artistic expression.

It needs to be answered in kind.

This composer wears no clothes.

martland naked

(cover photo of the late Steve Martland)