Tchaik 4 tonight at Carnegie Hall with the Met opera orchestra.

This is what the excitement’s about.

We regret to report the death of Barbara Bornemann,a longstanding member of the Berlin State Opera.

She sang at Bayreuth in 1990, at Giuseppe Sinopoli’s invitation.

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

In times of stress I reach for Bach in the raw, one instrument, one pair of hands. I’m choosy who I listen to when the nerves are frayed. The immortal interpretations – Gould in the Goldbergs, Milstein in the Sonatas and Partitas – are too profound, too perfect, to afford prompt and gentle relief. Two new releases are just what the soul doctor ordered….

Read on here.

And here.


Meet Colette Maze, a pupil of Alfred Cortot and Nadia Boulanger and a piano teacher all her life.

Colette adores Debussy.

She will be 104 on June 16.

Ted Gioia has written a thoughtful piece in the LA Review of Books about the growing tendency to play classical music in public places as a deterrent to anti-social elements.

AT THE CORNER of 8th and Market in San Francisco, by a shuttered subway escalator outside a Burger King, an unusual soundtrack plays. A beige speaker, mounted atop a tall window, blasts Baroque harpsichord at deafening volumes. The music never stops. Night and day, Bach, Mozart, and Vivaldi rain down from Burger King rooftops onto empty streets.

Empty streets, however, are the target audience for this concert. The playlist has been selected to repel sidewalk listeners — specifically, the mid-Market homeless who once congregated outside the restaurant doors that served as a neighborhood hub for the indigent. Outside the BART escalator, an encampment of grocery carts, sleeping bags, and plastic tarmacs had evolved into a sidewalk shantytown attracting throngs of squatters and street denizens. “There used to be a mob that would hang out there,” remarked local resident David Allen, “and now there may be just one or two people.” When I passed the corner, the only sign of life I found was a trembling woman crouched on the pavement, head in hand, as classical harpsichord besieged her ears.…..

Weaponized classical music is just the next step in the commodification of the genre. Today, most young people encounter classical music not as a popular art form but as a class signifier, a set of tropes in a larger system of encoded communication that commercial enterprises have exploited to remap our societal associations with orchestral sound. Decades of cultural conditioning have trained the public to identify the symphony as sonic shorthand for social status — and, by extension, exclusion from that status. The average American does not recognize the opening chords of The Four Seasons as the sound of spring but the sound of snobbery. On screen, Baroque is the background music for Old Money, High Society, and condescension. In essence, its music is not meant to be appreciated, but associated — and those associations are overwhelmingly elitist.

Read on here.

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Mikko Heiniö’s 70th birthday is being marked tonight in Turku, Finland, with the premiere of his third symphony.

He has also written nine piano concertos and three operas.

In between running six to eight marathons every year. Mikko says: ‘I entered musical life as a composer and I intend to leave it as a composer, but in between I can do something else.’

More here.



Cecilia Bartoli has just unrolled plans for the 2019 Salzburg Whitsun Festival, titled voci celesti.

She says: ‘It is no coincidence that I can realize the idea now, when discussions about the abuse of the bodily integrity of artists have become so topical. In the name of art, thousands of boys were mutilated – a terrible tradition which was kept alive for centuries and only rarely questioned. Given this background, I wondered whether the great artistic accomplishments of this era should be celebrated at all by performing these pieces of music? To me, the answer is obvious: yes, absolutely. However, their art must be illuminated from other perspectives too, and the highly problematic context discussed.’

The two operas she will present are Handel’s Alcina and Nicola Porpora’s Polifermo.

image: Decca

After cancelling much of her US tour, the pianist roared back last night in inimitable form.

Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Ligeti.

Then seven encores.

No short measure.


Michigan State Universty last night agreed to pay $500 million to 332 women and girls who were sexually assaulted by the gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

Nassar is serving 60+ years for his crimes.

James Levine, the former Metropolitan Opera music director, has been accused by up to a dozen individuals of sexual molestation and damaging their careers if they refused. He denies wrongdoing.

Once the Met has settled Levine’s unfair dismissal suit, which it is hotly contesting, it may face a hefty bill from the victims.



There was mild surprise a couple of weeks back when William Florescu walked out on the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee after 13 years of doing a decent job, and with a contract taking him forward to 2024.

Now, with the following statement, the company has blown a personnel issue into headline news:

Since the announcement of William Florescu’s resignation from the Florentine Opera Company on May 9, 2018, we have received information previously unknown to the company regarding Mr. Florescu’s conduct in the workplace. Having learned this additional information, we feel that greater transparency is critical in order to move forward with promoting the positive work culture that we expect. For that reason, we wish to make clear that Mr. Florescu’s resignation was related to his violation of the Florentine Opera’s policies and prohibitions concerning sexual misconduct.

We take any complaint of such misconduct seriously, investigate it thoroughly and impartially and act with purpose and urgency to hold those who violate the values of the Florentine Opera accountable.

Two young Israelis were accepted as new members of the IPO this week.

Ziv Stein, who has been playing in DSO Berlin, will be assistant principal timpani and percussion.

Hagai Shalom, an academy member of the Dresden Staatskapelle, will play low horn.

photo: Roman Langoff