The veteran conductor was reported in the Chicago Tribune to have collapsed on stage last night after Beethoven’s second piano concerto. He recovered quickly and will continue his series.

The Chicago Symphony has just issued the following statement:

Following the end of last night’s performance, Maestro Haitink did not in fact “collapse,” but he did lose his footing on the step back up to the podium during the applause. Thankfully, there was no damage done and he looks forward to the remaining CSO performances.

Haitink had a similar fall in Amsterdam four months ago and recovered very quickly.


By the former Dallas Symphony concertmaster, Emanuel Borok:


I watched an old great recording of a live concert with the Boston Symphony and Leonard Bernstein Performing Wagner at Tanglewood a year before I joined the orchestra I am sharing this with all of my FBF’s. My coming to the US. was as dramatic and fulfilling as any great success stories made possible in this Land of Ours. And so, here it is :

I arrived in New York on February 22nd. I had a beat-up Tyrolean fiddle, one suitcase with my clothes and exactly 30 cents in my pocket. I had hopes and dreams! Ahead of me were two job openings in the famed Boston Symphony: Assistant Concertmaster and Assistant Principal Second and two months to get ready for the auditions.

My childhood friend Misha Zaretsky, then newly appointed viola in that orchestra invited me to stay with him and his family in their home in Brookline Mass. There I would rise early and practice in the little room adjacent to the kitchen for the next two months. There was enough room for a single bed and a violin case and a music stand. Misha would be practising his scales in the bedroom before going off to work. Thus my 8 hours a day practicing day would start. The program for the auditions was Bach Ciaccona and Mozart concerto #4 and there were 9 symphonies (no excerpts in those days-complete symphonies) and a few violin solos from the orchestral repertoire.

I could not take any chances, so I practised every note in those big works and of course the Bach and Mozart. I needed a job and my wife and 6 year old son needed his daddy to get established in America. Just like in the good old days of the turn of the century. Daddy leaves the life in a shtetl and takes the boat ride to a better life and when the time is right sends for his family to join him…

Of course there was no longer shtetl and I had a great job in Moscow Philharmonic at the age of 27 as Second Concertmaster. Did I need to seek a better job? That was not a question. I hated living in the oppressive regime and I had many reasons to want to leave. Even at 12 years of age I knew that some day I would like to live in a free world.

So here I was, approaching 30, hungry for work. I approached it as an athlete preparing for the big competition. I would watch what I ate, ran every day for 45 minutes and practice….I was so focused on the goal that even did not allow myself to go to movies. Misha arranged for me to meet some of the old-timer violinists in the BSO and play for them. They were both most kind with me and very encouraging. Both were impressive in their own way. Sheldon Rotenberg was a consummate gentleman, poised and highly educated, both at Tufts where he was also a captain of the tennis team and in Paris where he studied violin playing and the art of appreciating fine wine. He was the one who, when he heard me share my delight upon trying Manischevitz sweet wine told me: “Manny, that is not wine….” some day you will learn what great wine is” And I have…

The other gentleman who heard me play was Jerry Gelbloom. The guy was a veteran of the some of the best orchestras. NBC under Toscanini and Cleveland in the early days of George Szell . He was immensely popular as a teacher and was a wise and very loving man. He was full of great ideas about phrasing and style.( I wonder where he learned all that ?)

Finally, the first day of the prelims arrived and I went to play both auditions on the same day. Playing on the stage of Symphony Hall – one of the great music halls of the world was tremendously inspiring. Suddenly my inexpensive French violin, generously provided to me for the auditions by a wonderful man Moshe Havivi whose violin shop was located right next to Carnegie Hall, sounded like a real Strad ( a sound I was to learn for real many years later by trying many of them and then playing for 17 years every day, thanks to a great lady in First Worth who offered it to my for use for undetermined period of time when I played as Concertmaster in the Dallas Symphony).

But on that cloudy day in April of 1974 I did not know any of that would be happening in my life… All I was focused on was to play the best I coul . Apparently it worked and at the end of the day I was told that I advanced to the finals for both positions.

April 23rd started at 10 o ‘clock in the morning and there were 18 of us playing the first round for the Assistant Concertmaster position. They were all fine players from good orchestras and schools like Julliard.

The 18 were reduced to 4. Were to play in the next round. I was one of them. Another person playing the second round was the mother of the future Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Alan Gilbert. She was pregnant with him at the time. She had a big sound, somewhat helped by a great violin by Gudagnini. Still I made it to the next round and she did not. Now there were only two of us in the third round. A long discussion followed and a decision was made to hear us both again. Off I went to play the fourth round. By 6 pm that day I was told that the jury was evenly split and the conductor Seji Ozawa needed time to think and he was going to announce his decision the following morning.

The finals for the second violin position were to start after dinner at 8 pm. ! There were 12 people entering this competition. At this point I was so tired and numb from all the emotions that I really did not care any more. So as they say in the military ‘the training kicked in’ and I went on autopilot… Since I was no longer nervous, I played with precision that was the result of my 480 hours of gruelling practising… I made it to the next round along with a lady from the Boston Symphony MayLou Speaker- a fine violinist for sure! A long deliberation took us to 10 o’clock that evening. I had not left the building since 10 am that day.

The charming Bill Moyer- trombonist in the BSO and their personnel manager told me that if Maestro Ozawa chooses me for the first violins position then Ms. Speaker gets the other job…

In the meantime I had won the position as Assistant Principal Second in THE BOSTON SYMPHONY!!! First, Second, who cares? I have job in the great Boston Symphony! It only took decades of practising in Russia and an additional 2 month in America to do it. I was elated.

The next morning Misha and I went to the Symphony Hall to hear the news …The BSO was going on tour that morning and the buses were there waiting for them. Some musicians were gathering and one of them was my other childhood friend Victor Yampolsky, a fine violinist from an illustrious family of great musicians. His mother was a student along with Vladimir Horowitz in Kiev and his father was a long time pianist collaborating with David Oistrakh, who later became his teacher. Victor participated in the auditions on that afternoon the previous day but withdrew for some reason, only to become the Principal Second Violin in the BSO a few years later. But on that morning I was tremendously excited and hopeful to hear the good news from the lovely man Bill Moyer.
When he approached us, Misha anticipated by asking in an unmistakably Russian way : ” KHHHOOO?”
The ever-gentle Bill Moyer pointed at me so as not to draw too much attention. At this point Misha and Victor took turns trying to squeeze the air out of my lungs and crush the ribcage, History was made! Hard work paid off. Now, the hard work of trying to bring my family out of Russia was on my agenda. It took a whole other year to achieve that. But that is another story!!

From our diarist Anthea Kreston:

A magical trip to Latvia, performing in the hometown of our first violinist – this small beach town was haunting in its tangible history – empty hulls of decaying mansions lined the streets, abandoned concrete hotels dotting the waterfront. During Soviet times, when Latvia was a member of the Union, Jurmala was the beachfront playground for high-level communists (Khrushchev apparently came often), who often were granted vacations – a chance to spend time in one of the many sanatoriums, or have a spa treatment or two.


The long abandoned, resplendent wooden mansions – many topped with widows walks (those small appendages, like miniature lighthouses, where wives would pace, waiting for their husbands to return from sea) – the empty concrete workers quarters, gave the town a heavy sadness, which was quickly dispelled once we were in the beautiful concert hall – filled to the brim with a cheering crowd for the home-town girl. She could barely make it off stage after the second encore – arms filled with many bouquets, the ground shaking from the rumble of feet.

Heading to Brussels after Latvia, I have just now finished my days of teaching at the Queen Elizabeth Chapel, and will fly to Greece for a much-anticipated family vacation. In the mean time, I have decided to have a crack at leading a small tour. I hope you can join me – here is the announcement:

Who wants to meet in Berlin March 21 to go to the Emerson Quartet concert in the fabulous new Boulez Saal? I will be there – and I am inviting you, too! And, hey, let’s make it a party. We can have lunch in the fabulous middle-eastern cantina at the hall, have a private tour of the hall, and meet the quartet after the concert. And, if you are game, stay the night in a hotel, and the next morning have breakfast with the Tonmeister of the Berlin Philharmonic, Christoph Franke, one of the brains behind the Virtual Concert Hall. Then, a tour of the Philharmonie and a Simon Rattle conducted Berlin Philharmonic Concert. There will also be one or two more exciting things planned.

It’s my first try at running a “behind-the-scenes” Music Tour. I have two days off between concerts in the Netherlands and the Elbphilharmonie, and we can spend them together. It’s a bit self-serve – but I have blocked some tickets for both concerts, and even hotel rooms if you need one.

Come on, let’s try. March 21 and 22, 2019 in Berlin. Tickets for the concerts are going fast – email me at and we can make the plans. I have someone who can help with travel and in-town arrangements. Write with questions – we have to snap these tickets up fast before they disappear!

The latest orch to go all gooey over the local team is the Boston Symphony.

Its conductor, Andris Nelson can only remember the team’s name by reading it off a sheet.

Great playing, but something of an embarrassment, no? The conductor’s shirt?

‘Go, Sox’?

What is achieved by these gimmicks?

We are not the only observers to suspect foul play in Hannover. This is from a Chinese music critic, Sam Su (蘇立華):

The Hannover International Violin Competition is one of the world’s most famous violin competitions. Three Chinese violinists have won prizes in this competition, Huang Bin (third place in 1997), Ning Feng (third place in 2003), Wang After that (fourth place in 2006). The tenth competition is currently underway.

Yesterday, around 21:30 on October 21, 2018 Beijing time, the competition announced the list of six finalists. From the player’s playing video on the youtube game, the finalists of this competition caused a lot of controversy. The people who watched the game on the spot talked about the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the judges and pushed their students to sprint the gold medal.

Judging from the performance of the contestants, the chairman of the jury, Krzysztof Wegrzyn (the Hannover Conservatory’s German-born violin professor), behind the scenes, made his student Cosima Soulez Lariviere’s suspicion of winning the gold medal.

The 12 players in the semi-finals are very good, and several of them are more prominent. Japan’s Seiji Okamoto (2016 Poznan Wieniawski International Violin Competition winner), American Anna Lee, Czech Olga Sroubkova (multiple) The winners of the major international violin competitions, including the second place in the Shanghai Stern International Violin Competition, and the Mayumi Kanagawa in the United States, are both very mature young performers. One of these players did not enter the finals.


Cosima Soulez Lariviere, the judge’s student , has a good playing style. Playing a very unpopular piece in the semi-final gives a refreshing feeling. This design is very clever and unmistakable. But in terms of overall performance, Seiji Okamoto, Olga Sroubkova,Rennosuke Fukuda and Dmytro Udovychenko, many teachers and students present felt more comprehensive than Cosima. If in the same performance, Cosima Soulez Lariviere has an absolute advantage in interpersonal relationships, people who know the insider look at it. This invisibly exerted tremendous pressure on Cosima. She hoped that she would play in the finals in an extraordinary way, complete the high hopes that her teacher sent her to win the gold medal, and prove that she won the prize with the wonderful performance of overwhelming group. In the music competition, the most feared is that the players are used by the judges as cockfighters or weapons.

Tomorrow night, the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales will livestream the world premiere of Mass Via Victrix (1914-1918) by Charles Villiers Stanford, conducted by Adrian Partington.

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford finished ‘Via Victrix 1914-1918′ in December 1919. One movement, Gloria’, was performed in Cambridge in 1920, the rest was ignored.

Stanford, an Irishman once hailed as the British Brahms, was well out of fashion by 1920, but still. Why would a famous composer’s war Requiem be so totally ignored?

Mass Via Victrix (1914-1918) will be livestreamed via around 8.30pm on Saturday 27 October.

It was 75 years ago this week, on October 23, 1943, that a Polish dancer, Franciszka Mann, was herded with others into a changing room at Auschwitz and ordered to strip naked for the ‘showers’.

Using all of her dramatic skills to deflect male attention as she undressed, Franciszka Mann grabbed a revolver from an SS guard and opened fire. She killed an officer, Josef Schillinger, and injured a sergeant Wilhelm Emmerich.

Other women joined her in attacking the SS guards, one of them tearing a German soldier’s nose off. Reinforcements soon arrived and all the women died in a hail of bullets. According to one version, Franciszka saved the last bullet in her revolver for herself.

She was 26 years old.


Remember Franciszka.


We reported earlier this week that a musician in the Jönköpings Sinfonietta had been fired after being accused of hitting a hall manager during an internal meeting.

The musician, named Magnus, denies it. So do 12 of the 15 people present in the room.

The brass section of one orchestra posted a picture of all its musicians with one hand on each other’s shoulders as an act of solidarity.

Today, every other Swedish orchestra, has posted a solidarity pic – and so have some others in Denmark and Norway.

#backamagnus is the hashtag. Spread the word.


The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra is offering no explanation for starting a concert 40 minutes late and extending the interval to twice its normal length.

The concert was conducted by Yuri Bashmet.

All the orchestra will say is ‘Unfortunately, unlike in Europe, we don’t start concerts at exactly 1900’.

One audience member said most people around her were under the impression that the conductor had been overly well entertained and did not look fit for purpose.

Natalia Loseva added: ‘I don’t ever remember so much whistling and hooting in the academic hall.’

Bashmet, who has refused to comment, conducts the orchestra again on November 2. Or maybe later.