The problem with Clementi is that there are no standout works. Where most famous composers write a couple of pieces that are gripping enough to be an entry point to their output, the London-based Italian just wrote and wrote more and more sonatas at roughly the same level of invention, leaving the new listener no idea where to start…..
The restrained and intense cellist Guy Fallot has died in Lausanne, Switzerland, at 91.
Aside from a solo career, and the sobriquet ‘Napoleon of the cello’, Guy taught for decades at the Geneva and Lausanne conservatoires.
The conductor posts:
First of all, I want to thank everybody who sent me kind wishes and thoughtful messages in this difficult period. For all other friends, I summarize briefly what has happened to me in the last few weeks, and what caused my absence.
After two minor operations in June in Berlin, I hoped that the retina in my right eye would be repaired. However, on the 12th of July the retina detached completely, and I lost eyesight of one eye. I had to interrupt the brief family holiday, and fly home immediately. Next morning I was operated in Budapest, but unfortunately the retina detached again and a second operation was necessary on the 20th of July. This one was successful. My right eye is filled now with silicone oil, and I had to lie with a head position on my side continuously until today. After a medical control this morning I was assured that the retina is finally in a good state. I am gradually allowed to reduce keeping my head in the prescribed position. Because the retina was badly damaged, the silicone oil needs to stay in my eye for at least six months, during which my eyesight will be slightly blurred. After this period, a new operation will be necessary to remove this substance.
Sadly, I had to miss the Verbier festival this summer, which I deeply regret. But I hope to recover for the festival tour of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the second half of August. I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Gábor Vogt for his successful therapy, and his whole team for doing their best, even after hours when an urgent surgery was necessary.
I want to advise all my friends to take maximum care of their eyes. Please, whenever you see light flashes, go to an eye doctor immediately. Speed is extremely important!
After weeks of quiet negotiations, Peter Gelb and the musicians struck a deal today. No details yet. Here’s the union’s side:
NEW YORK, NY—Friday, August 3, 2018—The following statement has been released regarding the conclusion of Met Opera contract negotiations for orchestra, chorus and other represented by the The Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 and The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA):
The Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802, The American Guild of Musical Artists, and the management of the Metropolitan Opera have reached a tentative agreement, subject to ratification by the bargaining units, Local 802 Executive Board and AGMA Board of Governors
About Local 802, AFM The Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802 American Federation of Musicians represents over 7,500 highly-skilled musicians who drive the New York City’s thriving cultural and tourism economy, which brings over 58 million visitors each year. Its members—who perform on Broadway, at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Radio City, on Late Night TV shows and in other televised bands, as well as in hotels, clubs, festivals and venues across NYC—are protected by collectively bargained agreements ensuring fair treatment and living wage.
The Concertgebouw’s peremptory dismissal of its music director, Daniele Gatti, has sent historians scurrying for incidents of previous executions.
They are few and far between.
Apart from June 1945, when Wilhelm Furtwängler and others were suspended from conducting pending denazification – and nobody ever lost his job permanently for having been a Nazi – the next major maestro chop does not occur until 1988 when Pierre Bergé fired Daniel Barenboim from the Opéra de Paris over a difference of repertoire opinion.
When relationships break down, the convention is for the maestro to be allowed to resign with mutual regret, a handsome payoff and sometimes an emeritus title. It is OK for a maestro to huff off – as Muti did at La Scala, for instance – but not the other way round.
The sacking of a maestro with immediate effect is practically unknown until Peter Gelb fired James Levine at the Met over alleged sexual misconduct and several orchestras followed suit with Charles Dutoit. With the Gatti precedent, convention appears to have been buried. In future, a maestro who fails to fulfil moral standards and musical expectations can expect to be given the bum’s rush.
Whether this constitutes an advance for civilisation, time will tell.
Rebecca Lynch, assistant concertmaster for the Nashville Symphony from 1977 to her retirement, died on July 23.
A student of Oscar Shumsky’s in 1950s New York, Rebecca played with the Frank Sinatra orchestra and gets a credit on the Close to You LP.
In Nashville she co-founded a studio band, the String Machine, winning a gold record for Neil Young’s Comes a Time.
From our diarist, Anthea Kreston:
I am horrified to hear the allegations recently that Bill Preucil has assaulted women. It would, however, be hard for me to imagine that there would be one female violinist out there, between age 18-50, who had attended a camp/educational institute and had worked with a certain violinist who wouldn’t have one “unsavory” story about him, either first-, second-, or third-hand. I’ve got some – do you? Most of us just had a slightly bad taste in our mouths, but clearly, some of us had more than just a taste.
Many reasonably intelligent people wonder why it takes a woman a long time to come forward with a trauma, if indeed they ever do. Let’s just lay it out there, shall we?
First – what is sexual harassment? According to Psychology Today: “Sexual harassment and behaviors that fall under this category include: inappropriate touching; invasion of privacy; sexual jokes; lewd or obscene comments or gestures; exposing body parts; showing graphic images; unwelcome sexual emails, text messages, or phone calls; sexual bribery, coercion, and overt requests for sex; sexual favoritism; being offered a benefit for a sexual favor; being denied a promotion or pay raise because you didn’t cooperate. And of course, some women (and men) experience what more aptly could be described as sexual assault: being forced to perform a sexual act on a man in a position of power, a man of power forcing himself on the woman.”
Why don’t women come forward? Shame, denial, fear of consequences, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. These are all documented psychological effects. They are real. The memories crop up at the most surprising times. Sometimes you just leave a whole cart of groceries in the store to go quickly outside for air, to cry, or to throw up. You are worried about “bothering” your friends or partner by talking about it. Your career will most likely be affected, and therefore the financial stability of your family. People will attack you, and blame you for ruining the career of a wonderful, famous musician. They will blame you. To your face. And you will cry, and throw up, and wake up in the middle of the night, and relive that moment, thinking of what you could have done differently, what you did wrong, what you would do if it happened again. You won’t be able to tell what is safe or unsafe anymore.
I don’t know Zeneba Bowers. But I sure do want to. With her permission, I will repost a Facebook message from a couple of days ago.
“Since the WaPo article came out, many hundreds of times I’ve seen comments lauding me for being “brave”. That is because there will be shame associated with this with my name, forever; because I will be raked over the coals online and in water-cooler chats; and because I will lose work opportunities. Friends, that is exactly why I came out in the first place. That is precisely what we have to change. It should be no more “brave” for me to say what happened to me than it would be “brave” for me to say I was rear-ended in a fender bender.
Let’s make that our reality, for our daughters.”
And, finally – from composer Kenji Bunch:
“I know, another dude weighing in on the WaPo piece regarding harassment in classical music….
At any rate, my $.02-
1 As with the Levine scandal, there seems to be an awful lot of lamenting over the ignoble end of Mr. Preucil’s storied career, as if we are all now to be deprived of some special, rarified greatness. To me, this is entirely misdirected. The tragedy here isn’t the loss of a transformative musical talent, it’s that a patriarchal system of cowardly enablers propped up a predator for decades because their financial interests in doing so outweighed any pangs to their conscience regarding the jeopardy in which they put vulnerable, younger musicians who trusted them.
2 The myth of the “once-in-a-generation talent” is exactly that – a myth. There are plenty of amazing violinists, conductors, etc. out there who could replace ANYone in any position of power and prestige, and do the same job with at least as much artistry and charisma. They often don’t get access to those opportunities for reasons related to unconscious bias. In other words, had one of the enablers of this abuse had the courage to do something about it years ago, we may have been treated to the even more impressive tenure of a different violinist who, in addition to amazing feats on the instrument, could also demonstrate the fine art of keeping one’s hands to one’s self.
3 Zeneba Bowers is a force of nature. I’m honored to call her a friend and colleague. She’s also hilarious, makes insanely delicious food, and is a highly respected travel writer. If you only know her as “the girl from the WaPo article,” consider instead linking her inextricably with the kind of strength, conviction, and backbone so often lacking in our line of work, especially from us dudes.”
I guess there is an opening for a violinist or two in Cleveland. Oh, and apparently a conductor in Amsterdam. Maybe it might be time to start to have a mandatory “appropriate professional conduct” class in conservatories?
The Montenegro guitarist made his comeback last night at the BBC Proms after almost two years’ absence with a hand injury. He played the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s guitar concerto ‘Ink Dark Moon’.
Hours earlier, Milos announced a switch from Deutsche Grammophon to London-based Decca. Both labels are owned by Universal but there’s a degree of rivalry between them. He still has one more release to come out on the DG contract. It might, perhaps, get less whizz-bang promotion than usual.
Like private recitals for Jeremy Corbyn.
In other label news, Decca Australia have signed the Vietnamese/Australian classical crossover pianist Van-Anh Nguyen. Listen here.
And the composer Max Richter is curating sleepy-time on Apple Music. Press release:
Universal Music Group has launched the new ever-evolving Peaceful Music Playlist on Apple Music. Peaceful Music is a living, breathing collection of contemporary and calming music, specially curated by today’s leading composers and superstar artists of the genre. Pioneering composer Max Richter is the first artist ambassador to preside over Peaceful Music, making expert selections to provide listeners moments of calm and inner focus. With more legendary and exciting names due to join the movement, Peaceful Music is for everyone and available now exclusively via Apple Music.
He’s music director of the Long Beach Symphony, in California, as well as orchestras in Spokane and Stamford.
As of yesterday, he’s also music director in Portland, Maine, starting next summer.
He sure gets around.
The Munich Abendzeitung reports that Peter is in hospital with ‘a large fast growing, malignant carcinoma.’
He has sent a round-robin to friends and has asked for it to be made public in order to quash the rumour-mill. Peter writes:
‘Two weeks ago I fell ill and was admitted as an emergency to the University Clinic ‘Rechts der Isar’ in Munich. The diagnosis is now confirmed: a large fast growing, malignant carcinoma in my chest (on the site of my first HD Lymphoma of 1976 !) and a smaller further tumour above my hip.
‘Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery and, possibly, radiation are all being planned and will start immediately in Rechts der Isar with the first surgery on Monday 6th August . So, please, understand if I am not as communicative as usual. If you do not hear from me it only means that I am fighting as, immodestly even greedily, I do not want my already expiring lease on life here on this crazy earth of ours to end….just yet!’
The former director of English National Opera and Bavarian State Opera was first diagnosed with cancer of the eye when he was in his early twenties and was given months to live. He survived that bout, and several more. Let’s keep willing him to make it through again.
Peter, 72, has friends everywhere. Prayers and good wishes are in order.
He tells El Mundo: ‘It’s normal here, the audience knows the score so well that it deserves the right to disagree, and also my respect.’