The Orchestre National de France has issued a dubious defence of its decision to call in Charles Dutoit, who is accused of sexual molestation, to conduct Le Damnation de Faust next week. The orchestra said it was unable to find another Belioz specialist who was available at short notice.

What – in the whole of France? in the whole of Europe? Give over.

This morning, the French soprano Anne-Sophie Schmidt, who is one of eight women who accused Dutoit of offences against them, called the invitation ‘just deplorable’ and ‘a slap in the face of those who are trying to stop violence against women’.

Here’s her statement:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHARLES DUTOIT is BACK !!!!!!!!!!!

J’apprends avec un certain écoeurement que Mr Dutoit vient d’être engagé pour remplacer Emmanuel Krivine à la tête de l’orchestre National de Radio France pour diriger La damnation de Faust le 3 février prochain, alors même que 8 artistes dans le monde ont eu le courage de le dénoncer pour harcèlement sexuel.

C’est un coup de poignard au regard de la défense des violences faites aux femmes et un signal fort pour l’inconscient collectif, d’engager à peine la page 2018 tournée, un homme qui n’est pas digne de confiance et qui échappera à la justice grâce à la prescription des faits.

Circuler il n’y a rien à voir.

Tout juste déplorable!

We hear that the Lucerne Festival has renewed Riccardo Chailly as music director until 2023.

Good deal for both sides.

Hat tip: We got the first whisper from Christian Berzins of NZZaS.


We have been informed of the death of Nikola Mitic on January 25 in Belgrade.

He sang in most of the leading European houses, carrying on well past 70.

Martin James Bartlett won BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2014.

Yesterday, aged 22, he was signed by Warner Classics.


The venerable Dieter Oehms has announced his retirement at the age of 78.

He handed over the management of his last label, Oehms Classics, to Naxos a year ago.

Press release:

Am 2. Februar 2019 feiert Dieter Oehms seinen 78. Geburtstag, ist damit nunmehr seit 1965 im Musikgeschäft tätig und gilt als Urgestein der Klassik. Sein eigenes Label OehmsClassics gründete er im Frühjahr 2003, zuvor war er in leitender Position für DGG/Polygram und Bertelsmann/ARTE NOVA tätig.

Er kann also auf über ein halbes Jahrhundert Erfahrung und auf aktive Mitgestaltung des Musikmarktes zurückblicken, auf eine unendliche Zahl von Begegnungen mit brillanten KünstlerInnen und einen unglaublichen Reichtum an gehörter und erlebter Musik. Nun möchte er mit Wirkung zum 31. März 2019 in den wohlverdienten Ruhestand wechseln.

Seit 1.1.2018 ist sein Label Teil der Naxos-Firmengruppe und wird von dort professionell unter Einbeziehung der bisher tätigen Mitarbeiter weitergeführt.


The bestselling Czech violinist Pavel Sporcl (200,000 CD sales on DG) flew business on British Airways for a UK date. Never again. Here’s what he tells us:

‘I have been flying many thousands of miles over the years, and as a member of the Czech Airlines program and their loyalty program OKPlus, I have earned a loyalty Platinum card. It allows me to have Priority Boarding with any Skyteam Alliance airlines. This means I can put my violin case in the overhead bin as one of the first passengers. And also, yes, it gives me a certain status of a ‘respected customer’ in case somebody wanted to forbid me to take the violin case onboard because of its (slightly) excessive length. I must add that for a long time I haven’t flown with a “trunk” violin case but with a case that copies the shape of the violin.

‘But this time I flew to London to perform with the English Symphony Orchestra. None of the Skyteam flights worked out for me, so I flew British Airways. In order not to get into the problems described above, I bought a ticket to for business class. Already in Prague at the counter I was told that my violin case is too long. But in London on the way back, I was clearly told that I cannot go on board with my violin case and would have to check it as a normal luggage.

‘I said: “This is unthinkable. There is a precious violin inside this violin case and I do not give it to anybody. In many such cases, only chips are left when violins have been handled this way…” I pointed out that I bought a business class ticket specifically because of this. The lady said the rules are the same even in business class. So I showed the case once more and pointed out that it only exceeds their maximum length by about 15cm, and only in length. Eventually I convinced her and she let me into the plane. But what would I have done had she continued to insist? I do not know, I think I would not have a chance, I would have to wait for the next flight, maybe buy a ticket with another company … I often read about some of my fellow violinists’ problems, even having to take out the precious Stradivarius out of the case and sit with it on their lap the whole way in order to check in the case in the luggage hold. It makes no sense – a violin case is really only 15 or maximum 20 cm over the length (while the full permitted width is not used).

‘I love flying. But this kind of thing makes it unpleasant, because one can never be sure if they let me fly with my violin. And for 15cm, to miss a concert or a rehearsal is very cruel. As a respected Skyteam customer, I may be protected, and so far nothing has happened to me there. But now that I realise that with some other airlines violinists are not save even if we go to the expense of buying a ticket in business class, I am horrified. I really do not know what to do. Perhaps just hope … And believe … Because always comes down to the people on the spot, and what they decide to do.’

We await a response from bottom-bumping British Airways.


Even by US courtroom standards, the defence put up by the arrested countertenor seems  high on personal degradation.

Daniels and his partner, Scott Walters, have been accused of the rape in Houston in 2010 of a baritone, Samuel Schultz, who was 23 at the time. The pair are now awaiting extradition to Texas.

Their Houston attorney Matt Hennessy has issued this counter blast: ‘David and Scott are innocent of any wrongdoing. Sam Schultz is not a victim. He never would have gotten this much attention from his singing, and he knows and resents that fact. He waited eight years to complain about adult, consensual sex to ride the #MeToo movement to unearned celebrity. We will fight this.’


The former chief of the Toronto Symphony and Royal Scottish National orchestras has been named music director of the Colorado Music Festival, starting now. He served as artistic director last summer and has now been given an upgrade.

His 2019 programme will centre on, duh, Beethoven.

This year, CMF presents a special concert series that traces Beethoven’s influence from the 19th century to the present day. Programs explore Beethoven’s path to the later Romantics, such as Verdi, Respighi, and Rachmaninoff; his radical premonitions of Modernism; his impact on the Neoclassicism of Stravinsky and Prokofiev; and his influence on the Minimalist textures and techniques of Philip Glass. The festival concludes with Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, a work deeply indebted to Beethoven; the final movement of Mahler’s symphony famously evokes the slow movement of Beethoven’s last complete work, his String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135.

It’s reported that 32 Spanish teenagers will play in the EUYO this summer, with 80 more held in reserve.

That’s terrific progress for Spanish musicianship, but will there be jobs in Spain when they grow up?

More here.


Meet the Belgian pianist Liebrecht (no relation) Vanbeckevoort.

He has a Liszt album out on Etcetera and has dressed for it with evident care and attention.


Let’s see…  he’s wearing a checked blue and yellow suit, slightly pinched at the waist.

Matching blue shoes.

Bow-tie, sort of blue. White shirt.

Someone must have thought this was a terrific cover.


The countertenor, arrested in Michigan with his husband Scott Walters on a Houston warrant, awaits extradition to Texas on sexual assault charges, which he denies.


The death is being reported tonight of Sanford Sylvan, a go-to US baritone who sang the first Chou En-Lai in John Adams’s Nixon in China, receiving both a Grammy and an Emmy.

He performed and recorded around the world with such diverse conductors as Pierre Boulez, Herbert Blomstedt, Christopher Hogwood, James Levine and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Latterly he taught at McGill University and Juilliard.

Cause of death has not been confirmed.

UPDATE: We hear he was suffering from a respiratory infection and was found lifeless at home.

The c0mposer Christopher Rouse writes: ‘I am devastated by the news of Sanford (Sandy) Sylvan’s sudden death. Beyond his great musical artistry – he was the magnificent baritone soloist in the world premiere of my Requiem – were his personal warmth and humanity. This is an enormous loss to the world of music.’