Rattle gives composer, 92, her London debut

Rattle gives composer, 92, her London debut


norman lebrecht

September 27, 2018

Simon Rattle met Betsy Jolas at a dinner party, not knowing her music at all.

A trawl on Youtube led him to commission A Little Summer Suite, which the LSO will premiere in February.

Report here.

It’s a busy season for Betsy. Side Roads by Betsy Jolas is coming soon with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Gérard Karsten on 18th October in Örebro.


  • Eric says:

    What a ridiculous piece in the Indie! Betsy Jolas is not an undiscovered composer at all. It might make for a better headline but its simply not true.

    She studied with Milhaud and Messiaen, has been performed by artists such as Kent Nagano, Anssi Karttünen, William Christie, Håkan Hardenberger, Antoine Tamestit, and now Sir Simon Rattle, and groups such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, Berlin Phil, Orchestre de Paris, London Sinfonietta, Boston Symphony Chamber players, and the BBC SO.

    Her music is published by all the major French publishers (Leduc, Billaudot, Salabert etc). And she’s also a highly respected teacher too (Tanglewood, Yale, Harvard etc).

    Mr Sherwin should do his research before making unfounded claims.

    • Christopher Culver says:

      Our proprietor did not call Jolas “undiscovered” at all. The name is certainly well-known, but Jolas does have a profile limited enough that attention from Rattle boosts it. I have been a fan of 20th-century modernism for many years, but Jolas has never quite been on my radar. Yes, she may have been championed by certain ensembles and performers, but it often happens that certain composers get some support from those institutions yet aren’t quite as prominent as other composers among fans.

      • Eric says:

        “Undiscovered composer, aged 92, finally gets London Symphony Orchestra premiere thanks to YouTube”

        Above written by sub-editor, not Sherwin, I suppose.

        First para of the article reads:

        “An unknown 92 year-old composer will receive a London Symphony Orchestra premiere for her latest work after conductor Sir Simon Rattle discovered her music on YouTube.”

        I stand by my point. She is not unknown or undiscovered. It needs qualifying and isn’t.

        Don;t get me wrong – I am delighted she is being performed by the LSO, but she is actually very well-known and admired in new music circles and further afield.

  • David says:

    What a ridiculous headline ! LSO debut maybe – but contrary to popular belief in some quarters, there are other things happening in London that don’t involve the LSO. Recent performances of Betsy’s music in London have been given by the students of the RAM, the BBC SO, members of the Philharmona and BCMG. Quite apart from being factually incorrect, the headline (wherever it is) is very insulting to this very remarkable and wonderful lady.

  • Santipab says:

    Yes that Jolas piece was premiered in Berlin in 2016.

    Apparently they also played Holt’s Egdon Heath last week. Is that Simon Holt or Gustav Holst after a few drinks?

    • Max Grimm says:

      Depends on how many drinks. In terms of what the music feels like, sober through well refreshed is Holst; a few too many with the room spinning is Holt.

  • Andrew Newman says:

    Maybe Mr. Rattle might discover Hans Gál then??

  • Hobbes says:

    HCMF did a profile of her work in 1996. Well done for catching up, London (/Norman).

  • R.Samuel says:

    NOT her London debut! I heard a piece of hers and heard her speak at St J Smith Square in the late 80s (& admired her work much before then).

  • Tariq Khan says:

    she had a double concerto for trumpet and piano done by BBC symphony recently with Hakan Hardenberger on trumpet and Roger Murano on piano.