The Austrian Beethoven specialist Jörg Demus died yesterday in St Pölten at a great age.

A student of Krips and Swarowsky he seemed destined for a conducting career before devoting himself entirely to the keyboard.

He recorded the Beethoven sonatas and wrote a book on them, accompanied Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau and was cherished for his single-minded dedication to the classical and romantic literature.

May he rest in  peace.


And still the solidarity comes rolling in.

The Vienna Philharmonic are dedicating the proceeds of a Berlin Bruckner concert.

And the Dutch Strauss impresario just happens to have a spare acre of steel scaffolding.

Andre Rieu writes:

Deeply shocked by the dramatic images from Paris.
We would like to provide our 700 tons of steel, used for the set of Schönbrunn Castle, to help erect the scaffold for the restoration of beautiful Notre-Dame.

Beat that.

Covent Garden was left reeling today by a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal that it had failed to protect a viola player’s hearing during Wagner rehearsals. The opera house was ordered to pay Chris Goldscheider £750,000 in damages for acoustic shock.

The Court of Appeal found that the ROH failed to take reasonable steps to protect Christopher Goldscheider during 2012 rehearsals, or to take further action in regard to dangerous noise levels.

The judgement is a huge blow to the Royal Opera House, both financially and in terms of its rehearsal practices.

Read on here and here.

The implications for the entire opera sector are considerable.


The American tenor Rene Barbera – Nemorino in La Scala’s L’elisir – switched today to the Milan agency InArt.

He was formerly with AskonasHolt in London.


The pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, eldest of Sheku’s siblings, has been signed up by his agent, Kathryn Enticott.

Isata, 22, is completing her postgraduate year at the Royal Academy of Music.

Enticott has also inked in the violin winner of the Carl Nielsen Competition, Johan Dalene. He’s 18.


Daniel Kramer is to leave ENO at the end of July ‘in order to focus on directing more opera and theatre’.

Kramer, whose recent productions have attracted hostile reviews, has been artistic director for just three years. He claimed not to read media.

Many felt he was too inexperienced when appointed. He was allowed to announce a new season just a week ago.

The board that appointed him remains in place. So it goes.

The company is out of credibility.

Read the face-saving stuff below.

ENO press release:

17 April 2019: Daniel Kramer is to step down as ENO’s Artistic Director at the end of July 2019 in order to focus on directing more opera and theatre full time.

He will continue to work with ENO until the end of 2019, as Artistic Consultant, to oversee the Orpheus series of four operas.

Stuart Murphy, CEO, ENO said: “I have loved working with Daniel as Artistic Director from day one. His continual desire to push for distinctive creative is hugely admirable, and his energy, sense of humour and passion for bringing new stories to life and nurturing new talent has been completely contagious.

“His seasons have been marked by a huge mix, from the Olivier nominated Turn of the Screw at Regent’s Park and Paul Bunyan at Wilton’s Music Hall, the Olivier Award winning Porgy and Bess, to SalomeIolanthe, and The Merry Widow, to the world premiere of Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel. Daniel’s War Requiem was a beautiful and stately reflection on the horrors of war, and deserves all of the accolades that it has received to date.

“He leaves with the very best wishes from everyone at ENO.”

Harry Brunjes, Chair, ENO said: “Over the course of his three years in the role, Daniel Kramer’s focus on creative artistic output is the underlying reason why our most recent season was both thought provoking and entertaining, as well as commercially successful.

“On behalf of the board I would like to personally thank him for all of his hard work and dedication to ENO. We are so pleased that he will continue to work with us on the Orpheus series and look forward to welcoming Daniel back at the London Coliseum. We wish him the best of luck as he pursues fantastic opportunities around the world.”

Martyn Brabbins, Music Director, ENO said: “Collaborating with Daniel has been an enormously rewarding and fruitful experience. I wish him all the good luck for the future and look forward to working with him again in the autumn on Harrison Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus – a project that we are both passionate about.

“The season ahead has a huge breadth and depth of work, and I continue to be excited for the next chapter for ENO.”

Daniel Kramer said: “I am proud to leave ENO after a season that has broken box office records, innovated and challenged, while delivering commercial success. We have recruited thousands of new, diverse and young audience members, and over-achieved our year box office target, delivering on our promise to provide “Opera for All” and reflect the diversity of our culture. I am particularly proud that the work we initiated outside the Coliseum has been such an equally resounding success with numerous 4 and 5 star reviews, awards and nominations.

“I am looking forward to continuing my relationship with ENO, overseeing the Orpheus series I commissioned, as well as directing Birtwistle’s The Mask of Orpheus. Stepping back will allow me to focus full-time on my 2019/20 freelance directing commitments of La boheme and Nixon in China in Europe, and War Requiem in Taiwan. Never has an experience been more fruitful, more demanding, nor more clarifying to my beliefs as an artist. I thank everyone who crossed my path at ENO and wish Stuart, Martyn, the Board and everyone at ENO the absolute best in this new chapter.”

In order to ensure a seamless transition for the rest of the 2019/20 season, and as ENO plan up to the 2021/22 season, Bob Holland in his role as Associate Artistic Director will continue to work closely with Martyn as well as with the rest of the artistic team to deliver plans beyond those that ENO are committed to already.

The leading French violinist Renaud Capucon tells us that he has quickly put together a tour of seven French cathedrals in the coming weeks to raise funds for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Je donnerai une série de concerts dans des Cathédrales Française au profit de Notre-Dame dans les semaines à venir.

Dates and venues to follow.

His brother Gautier played yesterday outside Notre Dame.

The two sides met yesterday, reiterated fixed positions and went their separate ways. The strike is now in its seventh week.

The CSOA said: ‘The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) held a negotiation session today on a new contract for the members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO).  During the session, the CFM presented a counter proposal to the Association’s last, best and final offer presented on April 7.  The CFM essentially reiterated, with very minor changes, its previous proposals, including retention of an open defined benefit plan for all current and new members, untenable wage increases and additional paid time off. The CSOA was unable to accept this proposal.  The parties have not scheduled any further sessions at this time.’

The musicians said: ‘At this afternoon’s negotiations, the Chicago Federation of Musicians offered another compromise proposal which was flatly rejected by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.  The Association restated their ‘last, best, and final’ offer and has not
budged an inch, nor shared any new path for resolution of the six-week old strike.’


In a season that looks somewhat pared down, two notable performances will be given by the National Youth Orchestraof the USA with Sir AntonioPappano (August 11) and the Orchestra of the RoyalAcademy of Music and the Juilliard Schoolwith Edward Gardner (22 July).

Hottest Prom of the year?

Sheku Kanneh-Mason playing the Elgar concerto with Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on August 22.



Reopening Zurich’s Tonhalle concert hall has been pushed back by a further six months to March 2021 – and at an addditional cost of about eight million US dollars.

The latest excuse? ‘Optimization measures’.

Last week, Jaap Van Zweden cried off at the New York Philharmonic with self-inflicted burns to his shoulder and Gustavo Dudamel cancelled Boston with a hand injury.

This week, Juanjo Mena was too unwell to conduct Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony in Toronto and Yan-Pascal Tortelier was taken to hospital in Washington, prompting the cancellation of his first concert and jeopardising the second.

Others have cancelled recently with wrist injuries, a bacterial hand infection, repetitive strain and a wounded knee.

These are all distressing afflictions, but you have to ask whether conductors of the past would not simply have blazed ahead with one arm in a sling. After all, hands are only part of the conductor’s toolkit. Most of the work is done with eyes, lips and general bodily expression.

Nikisch and Bernstein had a party trick of conducting the orchestra, arms at their side, with eyebrow movements alone.

Mahler gave the premiere of the Resurrection with a migraine so severe it left him sobbing between movements.

Are today’s conductors made of less tough stuff?