The death has been confirmed of Karel Husa, a composer who fled his home country in 1954 and became an influential composer in the United States. He died at his home in Apex, North Carolina, on December 14.

Husa won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969 and the Grawemeyer in 1993.

He was one of few successful composers to persist with microtonality.

He even sent thank-you notes for birthday cards.

From an interview with Bruce Duffie:

When I was 17 or 18, I went for the first time to a concert.  I went to art exhibitions because I was interested in it.  I had been reading poetry because I loved it.  That first concert was a violin and piano recital of the Kubeliks – Jan accompanied by his son Raphael.  At the time, Jan was over 60 years old, and it was an amazing experience for me to go to a concert and hear music.  A week later, I bought a ticket to an orchestra.  Before that, I had the impression one couldn’t go to a concert without being properly dressed, which meant having a tuxedo.  I felt it was only for the highest society.  But I went, and the impression I got from the music – which I didn’t understand – was overwhelming.  So the purpose, I guess, is the communication.  The sounds poured on me and soaked in.  Then to see the players perform, that is something I have always admired.  It’s something that can lift me, even at my age.  I am sometimes moved to tears when I hear passages, and that is amazing.

Since she has shown me three birth certificates with different years on them, I would not hazard a guess to her precise age, but happy birthday Ida Haendel and may you be granted many more.

Does anyone come close in the Sibelius concerto?

Meet Thomas Roisland, principal tuba of the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

He’s from Harstad, Norway, and lives in Malmo, Sweden.

Send us some more orchestra tattoos.

Yingle Belz?

You read it here first.

If there are words you don’t understand, they’ll belong to a little-known Quebec strain of Yiddish.


The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has lost a quarter of its local government subsidy in a round of pre-Christmas cuts. The orchestra had just begun to smile again under new music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

The CBSO is launching a public appeal for funds to help it cover the missing £228,000.

This press statement has just landed:

photo (c) Chris Christodoulou/LebrechtMusic&Arts

CBSO funding from Birmingham City Council falls to 1980s levels after latest cuts

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra recognises that Birmingham City Council faces significant financial challenges.  The orchestra is nevertheless disappointed that its funding from the City Council will be cut by 25% from April 2017.

A cut of this scale equates to a reduction of £228,000 from the current year’s level.  Coming on top of the £1.47 million real-terms public funding cuts which the orchestra has already absorbed since 2010, it means the CBSO’s public funding will drop below that currently received by any other regional symphony orchestra in the country, with its Birmingham City Council grant falling to levels last seen in the 1980s.

The CBSO has done all it can to maintain the world-class excellence and breadth of its concert-giving, educational, outreach and choral programmes in spite of previous cuts.  It has consistently achieved the highest ticket income of any orchestra in the UK, annual fundraised income has increased from £450,000 to around £1.2 million thanks to the generosity of the orchestra’s many donors and funders, and it has raised a £2 million Endowment fund.

As a result, the orchestra is still recognised internationally among the best in the world, bringing cultural, educational and economic benefits to people in the Midlands and flying the flag for the region worldwide.  This year it has won global acclaim for performances with its newly-appointed Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

CBSO chair Bridget Blow said: ‘We are concerned and disappointed that, in the face of financial pressures, Birmingham City Council has felt it necessary to cut funding for arts and culture so much faster than local authorities in other major cities.  There is global excitement about the CBSO’s future with one of the world’s most exciting young conductors, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, at the helm – but this latest cut will require us to work harder than ever to maintain the world-class concerts and Learning & Engagement activities which the people of Birmingham have come to expect.  We are grateful for the generosity of our many supporters at this time.’

The CBSO has been working with Birmingham’s other arts organisations over the last year to establish Culture Central, a development organisation and collective voice for culture in the city-region. Culture Central is now calling for a complete review of the way that the sector and the City Council work together in the future.

Gary Topp, Director of Culture Central said: ‘We have been making it clear for many months now that a radical new proposition for cultural investment in the city needs to be established and we are disappointed that the City Council has not shown more appetite for this innovative approach to date. The many exceptional cultural organisations in the city have extended their own level of commercial and entrepreneurial activity considerably in recent years and we are asking the City Council to reciprocate. In effect we are seeking the full backing of the Council to create the necessary freedoms and flexibilities for the sector to thrive and to move to a more dynamic and contemporary approach. The sector has prepared itself for this approach through the creation of Culture Central as a collaborative leadership vehicle and we need to work in a radically reframed partnership with the Council to bring these opportunities to fruition.’

Anyone wishing to make a donation to support the CBSO’s future can do so by contacting Eve Vines on or by visiting


The disinherited descendants of Richard Wagner have no right to run Bayreuth, a Bavarian district court has ruled.

The children of Wieland Wagner, led by the redoubtable Nike, had challenged the sole tenancy agreement for the festival theatre granted to their cousin Katharina, daughter of Wieland’s brother, Wolfgang.

The court decided that Katharina has sole rights to the theatre until 2040.

How much f this ruling is law and how simply German reverence for the holy grail and the status quo will take better lawyers than us to decide.

But anyone who thinks the matter is over knows nothing about the Wagners.

After ‘Yo-ho-to-ho’, the most popular line in the whole Wagner canon is ‘see you in court’.

The management of Camerata Nordica has finally informed its musicians that the orchestra has been suspended, after being shamed by reports in Slipped Disc.

Here’s what they wrote:
Dear Musicians,
The Board of Directors have decided to cancel the Camerata Nordica projects that were going to take place in February and March 2017. This has resulted in the fact that Terje Tönnesen has resigned from his position as artistic director for Camerata Nordica which means that the January project will not take place either. The Music Foundation deeply regrets the present situation and the consequences for you personally. We are sorry for this and send our deepest regards.
Kjell Lindström
General Manager

This served only to raise the levels of outrage among the musicians, who maintain that the artistic director qut only after the management failed to reply to a single email for more than six months.

Here’s the musicians’ response:

Dear PG, Kjell, and whomever else is reading this,

We hope you realise how incredibly unacceptable this email is. To not have signed our artistic director or given him a contract after 6 months of emails makes it literally impossible for you to in any way place the blame on him for anything as you are attempting to do now. There are a large number of musicians who have been booked to play 3 different projects in the new year, and to offer no explanation, no sign of compensation, and to have ignored our letters and those of our leaders so thoroughly for so long is both incredibly offensive to all of us and entirely unacceptable. Nor can you hide your financial mismanagement behind decisions that you pin on our Board of Directors.

Your actions towards our leadership and our musicians demonstrate a gross level of incompetence and mismanagement and will not be accepted by any of us. We remain open to dialogue to fix this situation, but until you are willing to take the responsibility for what you have done, until you and the Board stop trying to cover up your actions, it remains completely unclear to us as to how we can possibly move forward. 

As it stands now you are killing an orchestra that neither of you possess the ability to fix, and it is up to you to stop this now


The Musicians of Camerata Nordica 

Viewers browsing the Paris Opéra website yesterday were able to read full plans – officially unannounced – for the 2017/18 season.

They include a Verdi Don Carlo, with Jonas Kaufmann, Sonya Yoncheva and Elīna Garanča; a Donizetti Don Pasquale with Pretty Yende et Lawrence Brownlee; and a Saariaho premiere staged by Peter Sellars.

As soon as the error was spotted the web page was instantly taken down.

But a blogger, David LeMarrec, cached up the season and publishes full details here.

The American Lawyer website introduces us to Marie-Joe Abi-Nassif, a mezzo-soprano who will give a voice-and-piano recital tomorrow night at Carnegie’s smaller Weill Hall.

Marie-Jo works in capital markets at Latham & Watkins while continuing her voice training at Juilliard.

Full story here.

A retired civil servant, Stephen Peover, has taken over as chairman of the Ulster Orchestra. He has let it be known that the orchestra has been assured of funding for another year, but there is no long-term financial commitment as yet.

His predecessor Sir George Bain told a public meeting that the orchestra ‘nearly did not’ survive the last financial cuts in its funding.

The bass-baritone, undergoing treatment for brain cancer, has confirmed his intention to appear this Sunday in a ‘Hvorostovsky and friends’ concert in St Petersburg.

It is the latest in a cycle of such concerts that he has put on since 2006 and his did not want to miss the tenth anniversary.

Hvorostovsky has further concerts scheduled the following week in Kransoyarsk and Ekaterinburg.


He may have been out for three months with a vocal cord injury, but the tenor’s Dolce Vita remains the top-selling classical release in Germany, and he has two other records in the top 20.

Dolce Vita is a compilation of syrupy, Italian desserts from the Andrea Bocelli songbook.