Reports from the Berlin Deutsche Oper production of Das Wunder der Heliane have been overwhelming. Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s long-neglected opera has proved itself a musical and dramatic masterpiece on stage.

Quarter of a century ago, when Decca was casting a recording for its Entartete Musik series, few major singers wanted to touch a role they would never sing again and some were positively afraid of its demands.

Now, I suspect they will be queuing up for a chance to perform in it.

Michael Haas, producer of the Entartete Musik series, has written an essay on the myths and realities of Korngold.

The themes that resonate throughout Korngold’s life are particularly relevant today as they represent the fight for the very purpose of music. Is it elite, or is it populist? Is it high art or easy entertainment? Is it merely an application, like the use of colour in cinema or is it l’art pour l’art – a thing of purity and a bridge between the listener and a higher state? Is music a cultural cornerstone of European civilisation or is it merely ‘disposable’? 

Read on here.


The job vacancies are advertised every month in Das Orchester, but nowhere does it say what they pay.

So we made some discreet enquiries. What we have discovered are huge discrepancies between some of the best and all of the rest.

Here’s the pay scale:

Berliner Philharmoniker pays a monthly salary of €8,500 for an ensemble player (a principal earns €9,770+)

Leipzig Gewandhausorchester: €5,700 (principal €1,400)

WDR Köln: €5,300 (principal plus €800)

Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz Ludwigshafen: €4,100 (principal plus €800)

Bremen Philharmoniker: €3,400(principal plus €800)

Exchange rate: €100 = US $123 = UK£88

How does that compare with your situation?


A heartwarming piece of reportage from Canada.

Music education has been under siege in Ontario over the past two decades — trained music teachers cut, programs shrunk. According to a study published in 2017 by the Ontario-based lobby group People for Education, only 41 per cent of Ontario schools now have trained music teachers. That’s an eight per cent decline in the past six years.

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has bucked that trend, however. It is committed to making sure every child in its 42 schools gets the chance to study music with teachers who know more than how to whistle a tune….

Read on here.



Message from LA:

Due to an unexpected illness, Murray Perahia has cancelled his entire American tour for this Spring. He was scheduled to be part of this year’s festival, performing on April 28th at Chenery Auditorium. The Gilmore is planning on rescheduling Mr. Perahia for the Spring of 2019 as part of our Piano Masters Series.

From our diarist, Anthea Kreston:

I am awash in memories, after spending a glorious and hard-working Brahms week with my piano trio and guest violist Roberto Díaz, President and CEO of Curtis. I went straight from my early morning train from a Quartet concert in Frankfurt to a long Trio rehearsal at the Universität der Künste. It feels like ages since we have really dug in together, and yet, a mixture of my new musical life in Europe found a balance with the traditions of my rigorous, romantic training.

Sitting down with Roberto Diaz was both an absolute pleasure, and a reminder of how I have changed – the depth of his sound (and of our pianists’ sound), the flexibility of phrase, the unapologetic, thick sound, the width of vibrato and crazy-seeming bow techniques. These brought me back to my fundamental training in music – the Curtis Sound (the Philadelphia Sound?).

The hours under the baton of Otto Werner Müller, our conductor and teacher – his relentless training if us all – the strictness of the length of notes (so much more sustained and with a length which is non-negotiable), the meaning of a dot over a note (refers to only that note, no preparing for the dot with the note before) distinguishing so clearly between composers – no bleeding between styles, each composer with a rigid yet full-throated and singing universe. Müller (whose hometown, Bensheim, Germany, I recently performed in), was a consummate trainer of both his conducting students and all players at Curtis, whose student body is exactly the size of a symphony orchestra. For example, there is one Tuba position, therefore only one opening every 4 years (17% of principal players in the top 25 US orchestras are Curtis graduates). Müller was demanding, honest, life-changing. He prized score-study above all else (there was nothing more insulting to an orchestra than to have a conductor step in front of them unprepared). He diligently edited all parts for the orchestra – remarking rests to be logically partitioned, adding his own rehearsal letters, bowings, clarifying articulations and answering questions in advance – anything that would streamline rehearsals. Every Saturday I had an additional 3 hours of “lab orchestra” as a part of my student work-study – those hours have influenced every part of my musical philosophy.

Roberto’s length of notes were so absolute – something I have veered away from because I was sounding inappropriately long and romantic here. After our first reading, I raised my arms in a “whoop-whoop” – and said “I am so all-in on these long quarter notes!”. Roberto looked at me, and said “oh, you mean not clipped?”. Exactly. There is only one length, and if you would like to go shorter or longer, you have to negotiate terms – but the fundamental rules form a firm communal sound – it is so easy to play together, even though three of us went to Curtis at different times.

Before the second movement of the Op. 25 Brahms Piano Quartet, Roberto said to me – “well, either you can tell me your bowings, or I can tell you mine”. The opening violin/viola duo has many options, and no clear choice. I have so many different ones crossed out, multiple ups written over multiple downs. It is a mess. I said, “let’s not talk – I have a feeling we will have the same bowings”, and low-and-behold, for the entire Quartet, we rarely were at odds. After the reading, he said “well, I guess we got the same free education”. The only differences – I sometimes would choose huge areas of all up bows, and he chose all downs. In the concert, we spontaneously did the first time all ups, then did all downs on the repeat. It was a fun time to have that kind of spontaneity and flexibility in a performance.

By this time next week, I will have played in Princeton and Library of Congress, staying with the widow of Isaac Stern and Andrew Moravcsik and Anne-Marie Slaughter. I have opted out of many of the hotels this time, preferring to stay with family and friends, to avoid the loneliness I experienced during my last US tour. Friends meet me along the way, with Trader Joe’s Trail Mix, – I am maxed out on all of my comps – hoping for a balance of fun, great music-making, and connecting with old and new friends.

Gustavo Dudamel has accepted a residency at Princeton University.

Like Einstein.

From the Princeton University Concerts press release, going out later:

Gustavo Dudamel will be Artist-in-Residence for the 2018-19 season, curating and participating in a series of concerts and events.
Additional highlights include genre-defying performances by Bobby McFerrin and Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano, and a new series featuring Abigail Washburn, banjo and Wu Fei, guzheng; Avi Avital, mandolin and Omer Avital, bass and Gabriel Kahane, piano. Princeton University Concerts continues to redefine the concert experience with its intimate, works focused Performances Up Closeseries
The heralded Concert Classics Series includes debuts by Steven Isserlis, cello; Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin; and Martin Fröst, clarinet, as well as the return of the Takács String Quartet with pianist Marc-André Hamelin, the Australian Chamber Orchestra with pianist Paul Lewis, the Ébène String Quartet, and more…

At the heart of the new season is the series of concerts and events centered around PUC’s first Artist-in-Residence, conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The Maestro, currently the Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will visit the Princeton campus three times throughout the 2018-19 season. In his first extended University residency, Maestro Dudamel will curate a series of three chamber concerts that feature ensembles from the orchestras with which he is most closely associated – the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic. Each concert will explore music’s relationship to the world around us through a different lens. Three themes – Art & the Americas, Art & Faith, and Art & Nature – will be discussed in depth following each concert by prominent thinkers from a range of disciplines, with Maestro Dudamel as host. In addition to the curated concerts, Maestro Dudamel will conduct the Princeton University Orchestra and Glee Club in two programs. One will feature video projections by Venezuelan film director Alberto Arvelo.

Maria Furtwängler is one of the best known faces on German television. She plays the Hanover detective Charlotte Lindholm in the Tatort series.

She is, additionally, a great-niece of the great conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, a trained physician and a noted philanthropist.

A fluent French speaker, last night she appeared as narrator in Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sébastien with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle in the Philharmonie.

Interview here.

Grigory Yakovlevich Feigin died yesterday in Moscow.

A competition-winning student of David Oistrakh, he divided his life between teaching at the conservatories of Moscow and Tokyo.

His playing was strictly in the Russian style.

He has been named honorary conductor of the Bundesjugendorchester, the national youth orchestra.

Think of it as the Berlin Philharmonic of the future.

The orchestra director said it had honoured Rattle ‘in recognition of the special musical friendship and inspiration we have experienced with him over the past eight years.’

Rattle with BJO.  Photo © Peter Adamik

Lívia Rév, who died in Paris on March 28, studied with Leo Weiner at the Liszt Academy.

Fleeing Hungary in 1946, she made her first recordings in Vienna the following year and went on to play with Jochum, Kubelik, Horenstein, Beecham, Boult and other leading conductors.

After marriage to a Frenchman, Pierre Aubé, she gave up the touring life and settled down with family and students.

Some recordings may have appeared under her pre-War name, Rauchberger. Her best-known work appeared on Saga.

The last eleven minutes or so of Parsifal from the 1987 Proms mark the final achievement of Reginald Goodall, who fell ill soon after and never conducted again. He died in May 1990.

The wonderful Amfortas is Neil Howlett, still teaching at 83. This was the finest hour of English National Opera.

Shut your eyes and you’re in a better world.


And a video footnote:

The Russian actor Oleg Anofriyev, who played every role except the princess in the popular cartoon series The Musicians of Bremen, has died at the age of 87. He appeared in more than 60 Soviet films.