The former Tanglewood administrator Richard Ortner has died of cancer at 71.

As the last head of the Boston Conservatory, he negotiated its merger with Berklee. He retired in 2017.




From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:


Two recordings arrive, both claiming to be Beethoven world premieres. At issue is a piano concerto the great man wrote in 1784 at the age of 13 or 14 and, after copious revisions, apparently forgot about. The autograph manuscript sits in the Berlin State Library and two pianists have had recourse to it, with a quick trip to the photocopier.

First things first: is the concerto a significant work?…

Read on here.

And here.



The Vienna State Opera tells us the Kelton Koch has won the audition for a vacancy in its trombones. He starts work on January 1 and will be eligible for a place in the Vienna Philharmonic after a three-year probation period.

Kelton Koch, who has been playing in the orchestra’s academy since last month, is a student of former Vienna Phil principal Ian Bousfield.


The conductor has sent us this reflection on the sad death today of Márta Kurtág:

‘I have never seen a couple more affectionatly connected than Márta and György Kurtág. They shared everything from the meaning of each note of Gyuri’s compositions to the wonderful musical help they have been offering to their students. Márta was a great musician and a great human being.

‘Who will play now Actus Tragicus by Bach sharing a piano bench with György Kurtág? His loss is terrible. I can only hope that he will feel the music community’s love and support which is of course only an extremely modest consolation after his huge loss. Dear Gyuri, we mourn Márta and embrace you from the depth of our heart!’

The effervescent rapper known as Lizzo – real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson and classically trained – is having a dramatic impact on flute sales in the US.

North America’s largest flute store reports a sales spike of 30 percent, largely thanks to the Lizzo effect.

Read all about it here.


Bernd Redmann, successor to the disgraced Siegfried Mauser as head of the Munich Academy of Music, has given a rare interview to Van magazine, acknowledging that the institution’s reputation has been damaged by Mauser’s sexual abuses and the forthcoming trial of another professor on charges of rape.

Redmann says that among the reforms he has instituted are a ban on physical contact by singing teachers and a prohibition on teaching in private rooms, behind closed doors.

Read here.

These are good, progressive measures. But we still need to know why the upper echelons of German music covered up for Mauser for so many years when, as Redmann admits, people knew what was going on behind his closed door.

Editio Musica Budapest has announced the death of Marta Kurtág – ‘a great musician, a wonderful human being, and an inspiring companion for György Kurtág.’

Marta was 92. She married György in 1947.

When I met them a year ago in Budapest, she seemed physically the stronger of the couple, and formidably the more outgoing. Here’s what I wrote at the time.

UPDATE: Ivan Fischer: Music mourns

It appears that Edwin F. Kalmus, one of the major colophons in music publishing since 1926, has ceased operations and is looking for a buyer. Kalmus describes itself as the greatest collection of orchestral and operatic music ever available from a single source.

Here’s the statement:


Dear Edwin F. Kalmus and LudwigMasters Customers,
We wanted to give you an update on the state of our business. As of 10-23-19 we will stop all printing operations. We are working with potential buyers who will resume filling orders after a sale has occurred. We deeply regret any and all inconveniences this causes you and your customers.
If you are in desperate need of one of our publications, here is a solution. JW Pepper has been kind enough to post an abundance of our publications on their website, available for download through eprint. Most of the Latham Music Catalog is there as well as the last few years of
LudwigMasters new issues for concert band, string orchestra and chamber music. This does NOT include any Kalmus works.
Again we are deeply sorry and hope to have our products available to everyone after a sale has occurred.
Thank you,
Joseph Galison

Ralph W. Muller, retiring CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, will become  board chair of the Philadephia Orchestra from January.

He succeeds Richard B. Worley who, over ten years, turned a gloomy ensemble with sinking funds back into a national leader.

Tonight’s Turandot is off at the Liceu due to a general strike by separatists across Catalonia.

Among other shutdowns, the Palau de la Musica has postponed its season opening.


We’re not sure about the football.

UPDATE: Next week’s Barca match vs Real Madrid has been called off.

In the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s centenary, the daring continues even when the music director is having family time. Michael Seal, associate conductor (and former violinist) of the orchestra, pushed the envelope out last night with unfamiliar scores on a Brexit Thursday. Exclusive review in the Slipped Disc CBSO100 series by Richard Bratby:


CBSO / Michael Seal / Paul Rissmann

Symphony Hall



“The Thrill of the New” was how it was billed, and with the CBSO scheduled to give some 40 premieres over its two centenary seasons, the idea seems to have been to offer a painless introduction to new(ish) music for – shall we say? – the more traditionally-inclined concertgoer. So Michael Seal conducted an appetising spread of bite-size modernist favourites dating from 1909 to last month, introduced and explained with colourful visual aids and unapologetic good humour by Paul Rissmann. A reasonably-sized audience was clearly on board with the concept: chuckling at the final deflation of Jörg Widmann’s Con Brio (timpanist Tibor Hettich took a well-deserved bow), and sighing after the blissed-out string sonorities of Jennifer Higdon’s String Lake.

Seal looked after the details without ever letting the sense of direction flag, and the CBSO responded with deliciously filthy trombones and reeds in the suite from Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face (still surely the best thing he’s done), glinting half-tones in Knussen’s The Way to Castle Yonder and fluorescent, Janáček-like brass in Daniel Kidane’s Woke: premiered last month at the Proms, and cheered enthusiastically tonight. The players descended gamely into the stalls to lead a mass-participation performance of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music – with guidance from Rissmann, it worked rather well.

If the repertoire tended, overall, towards the relatively “safe” (and Elena Kats-Chernin’s impeccably bland Big Rhap would have raised yawns even in 1920), that’s understandable given the concert’s professed purpose. Hopefully it’ll become an annual fixture; and perhaps in time, in the city of Jonathan Harvey and Brian Ferneyhough, the strength of the dose might be increased. For now, it’s a curious reflection on our culture that the most genuinely startling music on the programme was also the oldest: one of Schoenberg’s Five Pieces, written a decade before the CBSO was founded.

Richard Bratby

See all the season’s reviews here.