Jazz master Kenny Barron talks about how his art was disparaged and downgraded by the classical establishment for much of his life.

A shocking indictment, horribly true.

A wonderful Handel duet from a countertenor and contralto, reversing the natural order.

The musician closest to the Russian president talks about their relationship to the state news agency, Tass. As you’d expect, he’s full of praise for Putin’s piano playing, but there are chinks of insight between the cracks.

Even more attitude is the pianist’s attitude to his homeland, his profession and his colleagues:

Believe it or not, but in our two-room apartment on Lenin Street in Irkutsk, the same featherbed I used to sleep on when I was a little boy is still there. Besides that, I refuse to let the apartment be refurbished. Everything there is the way it was nearly 30 years ago. Even my favorite toy lion sporting green overalls is still intact. And there is no place in the world where I can sleep better than at home. Home, sweet home.

Do you know how many recitals I did last year? Read my lips – 264! I enjoy touring the world provided I know that my home country waiting for me. In contrast to many other people in my profession I’ve never had any second or third passports or residence permits. I’ve never made arrangements for any “safe havens” elsewhere. Although I can tell you that getting Israeli citizenship would not be a great problem for me, because my mother is half-Jew. But it never occurred to me to do that. Why should I? And my daughter Anna, who is about to turn one, is a Russian citizen. This is a matter of fundamental importance.

It is true that the world’s attitude to Russia has changed, but my foreign tours still gather capacity audiences, and I don’t feel that the people have begun to react differently. There’s never been anything like this.

Read on here.

photo © Sergei Zhukov/TASS

A few more things you will not read in the New York Times:

We’ve been hearing from a very deep throat how Peter Gelb strategised his attack on Met staff. According to our source, he targeted employees near retirement age and offered them an early retirement package, saying ‘take this now or your job may disappear in a restructuring and if that happens you will get nothing.’

This is prima facie age discrimination, sacking people for reasons of age. Employees who received the offer say it is not very good. It involves a monthly payout sum, with insurance paid up only until next May.

Then what? Where will ex-Met employees get their meds? And where will they get another job? They are too old to retrain as baristas.

Gary Feinstein was not the only director who was fired. There are many levels of director at the Met. Susan Hayes, also fired, is senior to him. Ronnie Brown is another director who was fired. Anthony Marinelli who works closely with the mailhouses and makes sure the pamphlets and brochures make it out on time and with the correct information. Danny Valdes, head of house management, has been here for 30 years.

Our source adds: They do plan to fire a total of 50. The first 21 are people the Met thought should get some sort of severance package to soften the PR blow. The next 29 will get nothing.



Folke Rabe died this week, aged 81.

A leading electronic avant-gardist in the 1950s, he settled down as music editor of Swedish Radio.

Well, a man’s gotta eat.


Our diarist Anthea Kreston was rushed into hospital two weeks ago for surgery. Everyone has told her she needs bed rest. But she’s an American in Berlin, where the world stands still for no-one. So….

It has been 13 days since my surprise surgery. I have tried to stay in bed, and cancelled as many things as I possibly could, but the Beethoven Sonata Cycle is in 2 days, and of all things, I must do this. For several reasons – one is because I need to form my own identity here – I am in a new country, in an established string quartet with a very strong identity, as an inner voice, and I have left behind all of my network – contacts, concert series, colleagues, teachers, personal musical outlets.

I know it is dangerous to be in a chamber group – they can suck your soul away, can confuse your own identity, make you question your fundamental musical ideals – and it can happen so slowly that by the time you are aware of it, it is too late to do anything. I know this from past experience.

Secondly, there are many dangers of moving to a new country (where my language skills are sub-par, to put it unbelievably mildly) and feeling isolated both emotionally and intellectually. So – I tuck little extra-musical experiences in and around my main, amazingly fulfilling and challenging Quartet life.

I remember once, going to a recital by one of my former teachers – a member of a quartet. He was an incredible player, and had an illustrious career as a quartet musician. His recital was lovely, if a bit stiff and thoughtful – as if he were analyzing every move he made, and realizing how much it didn’t live up to his potential. I went backstage afterwards to congratulate him, and after the room cleared he broke down, sobbing in my arms. He hated himself and his performance – he wondered what had happened to him – he used to be so confident, carefree – he used to be able to enjoy himself. He was crushed, like the shell of a man. What I had always seen – a bigger-than-life, brilliant player, who travelled the world, was a hollow vessel.

So – I have taken a step back in my recovery – I had to go back to the hospital and have them reopen the incision, drain the cavity. I have been in bed now for 4 days – the shooting pains are less frequent, and I have to change my dressings less often. I know that I won’t be my best at this concert, but I need to do it, for myself, and for my emotional health. I was pretty down a couple of days ago, wondering how I was going to be able to do it – to stand without being dizzy, to concentrate and have the vigilant control necessary for Beethoven. Jason delivered my violin into my sickbed, and a chart with 7 boxes. He said, all you have to do is play for 15 minutes, 7 times a day, sitting up in bed. Then you will be fine. The first day I managed 3 boxes, and now I am up to 6. I won’t compromise my health, but I must keep the balance between emotional and physical health, and I know I can do it.


She’s certainly no trout…. so they made her a mermaid for Schubert’s quintet?

No wonder the guys look uncomfortable.


We know now that he wants to lose 50 administrative jobs (although he has persuaded the NY Times that it’s less).

We also know that he has to find $20 million in savings this season in order to make up a shortfall in donations and box-office.

Cutting 50 jobs does not save anywhere near $20 million. So where does he cut next?

Expect more sales of the family jewels.

Expect a cross-the-board trim to production budgets, little snips that he hopes no-one will notice.

The most worrying option that we’re hearing is a reduction in rehearsal time. It’s just a whisper at the moment, nothing down on paper, but that is not a good route to go down. It is a measure of Gelb’s desperation that it is even being contemplated. But where else can he save money? And how can he get disaffected audiences and donors to stream back to the Met?

Answers in the space below, please.



The acting Bishop of London has endorsed plans to exclude musicians from performances and rehearsals at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, formerly known as the National Musicians Church.

In a statement of inimitable insipidity, Bishop Pete Broadbent says: ‘Although St Sepulchre has for many years been the spiritual home of the National Musicians’ Chapel, and will continue to be so, many of our churches can rightfully claim to exercise a role as a musicians’ church.’

The Church Times has a full report on these pathetic parochial plots.

The outcome is that St Sep’s is no longer there for musicians.

Savour the memory. There will be no saviour.



Peter Gelb now admits to sacking 21 people on Wednesday, although his original list, seen by our informants, runs to 50. There may be more to come.

Most of the victims, if not all, are loyal and veteran staff who have given their lives to the Met. We have been informed of some of the names and publish them below.

First, here’s Gelb’s letter to staff, provoked by the Slipped Disc disclosures.

Dear Members of the Company,

As you know, the Met continues to face economic challenges as it copes with the changing environment for presenting opera.  As part of our ongoing efforts to reduce costs, we have offered 21 members of the administrative staff the possibility of participating in a voluntary retirement program, which includes supplemental financial benefits.  I appreciate your concerns and hope for your understanding that we are looking out for the long term fiscal health of our beloved institution.


Peter Gelb

Here are some of those who are being pushed out the door:

Gary Feinstein     Director, Subscriptions & Special Services

Mary-Lynn Musco    Associate Director, Subscriptions & Special Services

Susan Hayes        Director, Customer Care

That’s the entire department of Customer Care and Donor Relations

Annmarie Hackett    Director, Human Resources and Labor Relations

Human Resource Manager (Michele Rufrano or Frank DiMaiolo or both)

Production Director (Marketing)

Associate House Manager

and three Payroll Assistants (out of a department of 6)

In addition, we hear that James Levine’s personal assistant Ken Hunt and the ballet administrator Joe Fritz are among the casualties.

Where will the buck stop next?

UPDATE: What’s left to cut?


On the eve of Yom Kippur, we present two clips of Joseph Schmidt performing synagogue liturgy.

Schmidt fled Nazi Germany and wound up a refugee in Switzerland, where his health collapsed in an internment camp. He died in November 1942 at the age of 38.


If the Max Bruch setting has worn your patience thin, you may wish to try this modern setting for cello and piano by the New York composer Alan Shulman.

The performers are Steven Honigberg, cello, and Audrey Andrist, piano.