Message received:

Philadelphia, PA (January 30, 2020) – If you ask Philadelphia musician Harvey Price what’s the best way to resolve conflict, he’ll say, “Make music together.” And, that’s exactly what he has done for seven years. With the goal of bringing together children who are Jewish, Christian and Muslim in the Galilee region of Israel, Price has encouraged peacemaking and social impact through the Peace Drums Steel Band. And, now, the band is returning to the United States, with a new set of band members, to demonstrate their camaraderie in performances in Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE in April 2020.

In 2013, Price had the dream to form a steel band of Jewish and Arab students in Israel to encourage them to connect with the shared goal of playing steel drums in a band. With the support of clergy from Delaware Churches for Mid-East Peace, that dream became a reality. It was Price and Israeli Michael Chacour who negotiated alliances among Israeli, Arab and Jewish partner schools. The initial 20 students that started in the band in 2013 has grown to 150 students currently participating in Peace Drums.

Now, four years after their initial US tour, an ensemble of 25 middle school musicians from the Peace Drums cohort is coming to the United States to demonstrate their new passion for Caribbean steel drum music as well as their commitment to each other for a shared society.

The mission of the Peace Drums Steel Band has gotten tremendous support in the past few years. In addition to the United States State Department that provided a USAID grant administered by the U.S. Embassy in Israel, The Peace Drums tour is also supported by Peace Drums US and Peace Drums Israel.

The Peace Drums performances will take place April 17 through April 22, 2020 in Philadelphia and Wilmington.

The Chilean pianist was a great Lisztian, with a particular love for the Totentanz.

For some reason, he never recorded it commercially.

You hear it here first.

Thanks to Mikhail Kaykov.

Emma Stone of La La Land, reputedly Hollywood’s top-paid actress, is doing her bit for the classics.

No idea why or how: the Greeks are not strong on communication.

Here’s what the press release says:

The Greek National Opera and NEON announce the start of a new short film production by Yorgos Lanthimos, with Emma Stone and Damien Bonnard, in Greece, the second commission in the series The Artist on the Composer. The program is a co-production of the Greek National Opera and NEON.

The production is made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.

The program The Artist on the Composer is a three-year collaboration between the Greek National Opera and NEON Organization for Culture and Development ( ) which connects cutting-edge contemporary visual artists, composers and/or film producers with “live” performances of orchestral music.

The conductor has been talking to France 24:

‘The practical difficulties will be immense because there never was any planning for Brexit,’ he said. ‘Whenever we ask (government officials) what the situation will be with taking instruments from country to country, the answer is, ‘Sorry? we have no idea.’

‘We have three or four contingency plans for every tour now… Last Friday we played in Frankfurt, and we were in Paris on Saturday. If all the instruments have to be inspected… there is no way they would have got from one country to another.

He added that customs checks and form-filling ‘takes 15 hours on average, which means our touring life is completely different.’

Read on here.


On the other hand, some of us think orchestras should help save the planet and stop excessve touring. Orchestras, conductors and soloists need to see the bigger picture and reconfigure their activity.

Andrew Manze has told a Hamburg newspaper that he has taken Swedish citizenship today in order to stay in the EU. He says his trust in democracy has been shaken.

Manze, 54, has his main home in Stockholm.

He’s a contender for the music director vacancy in Liverpool.


Welsh National Opera launched its 75th season today.


Music director Tomas Hanus has signed on until 2026, and a million quid has been raised from two donors.

WNO is pleased to announce the launch of a major fundraising campaign to underpin the Company’s future
artistic ambitions and continuing commitment to encourage as many people as possible to enjoy and participate in
opera across Wales and England. £1,000,000 has so far been pledged with two donations of £500,000 each from
the Colwinston Charitable Trust and Professor Rolf Olsen. Having had a long history of supporting the Company,
the Colwinston Charitable Trust has awarded its largest-ever grant of £500,000 to support opera productions at
WNO from 2021 onwards. Der Rosenkavalier will be the first supported opera in Spring 2021.

Oh, and US soprano Amanda Majeski will sing her first Jenůfa.



From my Spectator review today of Richard Bratby’s new centennial history of the CBSO:

Those who conduct the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra may not be aware that musicians fill in a form after they leave marking them out of ten, sometimes with an acerbic comment on their performance. Industrial democracy is alive and well in the West Midlands, along with a Red Robbo urge to biff the bosses, as Richard Bratby’s centennial history of the CBSO entertainingly reveals.

Democracy can foster great leaders and, in this sphere, the CBSO is the envy of the world. Three of its last four chief conductors, chosen by the players, have gone on to the highest peaks — Simon Rattle to the Berlin Philharmonic, Andris Nelsons to Boston and Leipzig, and Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla to the forefront of a new wave of women conductors who are wresting the baton away from male grip….

Read on here.

PLUS: What Amsterdam needs to do.

As virus hatches are battened and China goes off the music map for the next month and more, this is what we have left:

Anna Netrebko’s Turandot in Munich.

Can anyone translate those quirky costumes?


These are the words spoken at Barry funeral yesterday by his loving nephew, Michael Shmith. They are followed by one of the recordings of which Barry was proudest – his duos with George Shearing.

Eulogy for Barry Emmanuel Tuckwell
5th March 1931-16th January 2020
The Good Shepherd Chapel, Abbotsford. 30th January 2020.

Uncle Barry. Where to start?
Let’s go back to my own childhood.
I knew his music long before I knew him.
My growing up in Melbourne was encouraged and sustained by two uncles. One was my father’s brother, Uncle Clive, an ebullient, dashing presence in blazer and cravat, who taught me to drive and introduced me to gin. The other was my mother’s brother, Barry, a far more spectral presence, who lived in England and played the French horn. It was Barry who, at a distance, introduced me to the music that would determine the course of my life.

I like to think, somewhat fancifully, that, when I was an infant, Barry probably dandled me on his knee, perhaps positioning me in the same deftly acrobatic way he held his horn.

But my first proper, more lasting, meeting did not happen until 1966, when I was sixteen, and Barry came to Melbourne with the London Symphony Orchestra. He played a Mozart concerto. It was in the Melbourne Town Hall – always rated by Barry as one of the finest concert venues in the world – and I can still sense the horn sound emerging almost as if from nowhere and everywhere at once.

I already knew the work. Intimately. Every bar of it lodged deep into my memory. This was thanks to my mother who, when I was nine or ten, mailed me from London a Decca long-playing record of Barry playing the Mozart concertos. This proved a powerfully effective diversion from the original Broadway cast LP of My Fair Lady.

Some years later, my father bought home his latest LP purchase. It was another Decca recording, of the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings (we’ve just heard Barry play the Prologue). This recording, too, sank deep into my memory.

Speaking of sinking, I recall Barry’s story of how he once played the Serenade’s offstage solo epilogue from inside a goods lift, facing the back wall – the perfect, evocatively distant, acoustic, he reckoned. Alas, he did not expect the lift to start moving. It began its slow descent at the very moment he began to play: the lower the lift got, the louder he had to play. Fortunately, no one noticed.

Over the years, many other Tuckwell recordings would give me further insight and incomparable joy. But the man himself – the person breathing life into those notes – still remained intriguingly elusive. Who was he?

To say that it took me many years to get to know Uncle Barry is in no way pejorative. It was just that during his performing years he was never in the one place for very long. For him, jetlag always failed to have a starting point. Even when I lived in London in the 1970s, contact with Barry tended to be sporadic rather than regular. But always memorable.

It was only later, after I moved back to Melbourne in the early 1980s, that Barry began to enter my life in a more regular way that would last for almost forty years – especially in later years, after Barry returned to Melbourne to live.

I also got to know some of his long-time colleagues – in particular his brilliant compatriots, violinist Brenton Langbein and pianist Maureen Jones. They comprised the Tuckwell Langbein Jones Trio, which performed for many years all over the world until Brenton’s death in 1993.
Maureen was, and still is, referred to by some as Mrs Lewis. This is easily explained. At the 1988 Adelaide Festival, a caption on a photo accompanying an article on the trio inexplicably read: Adelaide-born virtuoso Brenton Langbein and Melbourne-born horn player, Barry Tuckwell, with Mrs Lewis.

The trio customarily finished their recitals with an quirky encore: Percy Grainger’s liltingly witty Zanzibar Boat Song, scored for six hands, one piano. They squeezed-in along the piano stool: Maureen, flanked by Brenton and Barry, giggling among themselves, as if they were the naughtiest three children in elementary class.
Nicknames, à la Mrs Lewis, and other linguistic trickeries were embedded in Barry’s psyche. He loved them, and most were affectionately bestowed.
(In fact, to be timely, the word ‘eulogy’ was never pronounced that way. Thanks to the minister who officiated at Barry’s father’s funeral some thirty-five years ago and pronounced the word ‘yoo-ology’, family style quickly followed suit. And, we thought, how felicitously ‘yoo-ology’ rhymed with ‘zoology’. Or ‘zoology’.)

Another example – and I can’t recall which of us started this – any reference to Barry’s elder sibling, my mother, was to ‘Nin’s aunt’: Nin being in itself a nickname, of Barry’s daughter, Jane. ‘Nin’s aunt’ (to my knowledge, never used within my mother’s hearing) was merely the theme for a host of elaborate variations. It was a sort of game in which mention of every relative was filtered through this particular prism, the more obscure the reference, the more effective the confusion. Thus ‘Nin’s aunt’s elder son’s daughter’s first son’ (my grandson, Wolfgang). Or ‘Nin’s aunt’s first husband’s first wife’s brother’ (Barry himself – although this took much working out). And so on.

In 1994, Barry received an honorary doctorate of music from the University of Sydney. I recall his speech, addressed more to the students present than anyone more learned, in which he so beautifully described those rare moments in musical performance when you listen with new ears and your world changes. For Barry, such a moment was when he heard the great Mstislav Rostropovich’s first entry in the Dvořák cello concerto. Barry’s message that day was simple: never stop listening.

And we haven’t. Especially to him. Two weeks ago, while I was at Barry’s bedside for what was sadly the final time, I sent my daughter, Poppy, a text. She replied: ‘Please tell him I love him and that I will always play his music to my sons, just as I grew up hearing it.’
I did tell Barry, and is it too much to hope that he heard me?

Although Barry has now gone, his music will never, and can never, die. It remains as fresh and as vital and as persuasive with each hearing. I’ve heard much of it over the past two weeks, and, as with all great art, there is always something – a particular phrase or inflexion – you failed to notice last time.

In writing this, I have been listening to the live recording of the English National Opera’s incomparable production of Wagner’s music drama, Siegfried, made at the London Coliseum in 1973.

One of the precious few instrumental solos in The Ring is Siegfried’s Horn Call in Act II. It is a pivotal point of the opera, indicating the transition between Siegfried’s own youthful impetuosity and his swiftly acquired maturity (he is about to kill a dragon, after all). This brief but treacherous passage is the sole responsibility of the player, who, while respecting the composer’s markings, must maintain his own virtuosity. Barry’s magnificently heroic performance achieved just that balance. How lucky I was to experience it in situ. That was forty-seven years ago. I assure you it is just as compelling today.
Bless you, my dearest Uncle Barry. And thank you for everything.

Barry with his sister Patricia, Countess of Harewood, and her son, Michael Shmith, April 2017


Slipped Disc’s latest review of the CBSO100 season:

Symphony Hall *****

Beethoven would have so loved this concert, combining his own compositions with a work by one of the most fascinating of today’s composers, and a showcase as well for a composer of the younger generation.

This was a celebration of both the forthcoming centenary of the CBSO’s birth and the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s, and the programme drew an encouragingly packed house. Perhaps most had come for the two Beethoven symphonies, but perhaps some too for the UK premiere of Unsuk Chin’s SPIRA – A Concerto for Orchestra, a CBSO Centenary Commission supported generously by the British Korean Society.

Chin here writes for a large orchestra, not least with a busy percussion section, in which two vibraphones, separated by some distance (I wonder if this will be apparent in the forthcoming BBC Radio 3 broadcast?) and activated by slithering violin bows, punctuate almost vocally every contortion of a sound-spiral, and instigate an array of cosmic outbursts from the orchestra.

The score is packed with incident, all clearly-imagined, and the subject-matter occasionally evokes a lingua franca from the composer’s aural memory (Holst’s Planets and Debussy’s La Mer, for example). There is a beautifully lyrical string interlude as the music moves towards a serene but enigmatic ending.

Under Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, who conducted SPIRA’s premiere in Los Angeles last May, the CBSO played with immense confidence and appreciation, and the huge panoply of players returned at the very end of the evening for a surprise encore, Liam Taylor-West’s Turning Points.

This, the first of the CBSO’s celebratory series of 20 encore commissions by British composers under 30, is a colourfully-scored potential concert-opener. It begins with a Petrushka-like glitter, builds over earthy rhythms until proceedings are arrested by a clarinet solo, taken up by the orchestra in a joyous affirmation, evoking minimalist composers brought up on Aaron Copland.
And between? Only the matter of two Beethoven symphonies, numbers 2 and 4, a large string complement persuaded by Mirga to play with energy and grace, and punctuated by rasping natural trumpets and shallow-bowled timpani.

The account of the under-rated Second Symphony here was memorable for the flowing and utterly gorgeous Larghetto and for the mystery of the finale’s coda. The equally under-rated Fourth was a combination both of briskness (the bassoon and clarinet precipitous solos in the finale could only emerge as a blur) and a threatening undercurrent. Bassoons were nobly mellow, and Marie-Christine Zupancic’s flute made golden contributions.
Christopher Morley


The following message has been sent to 160 teachers at Rome’s Santa Cecilia Conservatory:

Dear colleagues and dear colleagues, because of the well-known events related to the Chinese epidemic, the lessons of the Oriental students (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc.) are suspended as well as others who have come from the countries concerned. The conservatory doctor will visit them all on Wednesday 5 February at 2.00 pm. Only those who pass the visit can be readmitted to attendance. In the meantime, absence will be considered absence due to illness. Please advise them all to convene on February 5 at 2 pm, and remind them to bring the booklet. Best regards. Signed by the director, Roberto Giuliani.

Care Colleghe e cari Colleghi, a causa delle ben note vicende legate all’epidemia cinese, sono sospese le lezioni degli studenti orientali (cinesi, coreani, giapponesi ecc.), nonché di altri che provenissero dai Paesi interessati. Mercoledì 5 febbraio alle ore 14 il medico del Conservatorio provvederà a visitarli tutti. Solo quelli che passeranno la visita potranno essere riammessi alla frequenza. Nel frattempo l’assenza sarà considerata assenza per malattia. Siete pregati di avvisarli tutti, di convocarli per il 5 febbraio alle ore 14, e di ricordargli di portare il libretto. Cordiali saluti”. Firmata dal direttore, Roberto Giuliani.

Just like medieval times. Or even German occupation.

We hear that many teachers are appalled, both at the exclusion and at the language of the message.

The Korean students feel particularly aggrieved as their country has barely been affected by the coronavirus.

Welcome to the 26th work in the Slipped Disc/Idagio Beethoven Edition


Violin concerto in D major, opus 61 (1806)

This work is so immense and its values so intractable that I called in the violinist Gidon Kremer, who has recorded it three times, to relate his search for a perfect performance before I (tomorrow) cast the net slightly wider and arrive at a variety of self-surprising conclusions.

Gidon, dear friend that he is, has permitted me to quote from a long essay he wrote in 2015 in an attempt to find the ultimate recording. His essay was published by Henle inside a new edition of the concerto.

Gidon started out from a shortlist of ten, sent to him by a French magazine, and then went further than they, or he could have imagined. I recognised many of the agonies he endured and, if I don’t necessarily endorse the notion that there ould be a ‘perfect’ choice,  I can see where and how he got there. Here’s the crucial part of Gidon’s account:

…. I became more and more desperate as time went by. Repeated listening added to my confusion. One day it seemed that my favourite was Francescatti after all. On the next it seemed, that Joseph Szigeti – especially with his authority and cadenza – had won my heart. Then I again returned to the impeccable readings of Heifetz and Milstein. Their sheer perfection was a factor I could not ignore. I also had notions that the cadenzas by Szigeti/Milstein and even Huberman deserve to be published as a kind of a bonus to the set of “ideal recordings”.

And then … something unexpected happened. It came to me “out of the blue”. As I explored the realms of YouTube, I discovered a recording which progressively intrigued and then overwhelmed me. Slowly it became not only my preference above all those I had spent weeks listening to, but clearly my choice. The discovery made my day! I felt relieved to recognise my own set of values and was able to dismiss the idea of being so fixed on my own reception of the concerto that none of other interpreters would ever be able to convince me.

It was such a relief because my dissatisfaction with so many great interpretations which I certainly appreciated but did not love had taken me almost to the point of thinking that my listening abilities were very limited, that I was simply unable to differentiate clearly enough.
I felt that I had failed to give a clear professional explanation. Why I couldn’t I pick out a favourite among so many jewels? Was I too snobbish? Too choosy? Too narrow-minded?

Like a dark cloud on a sunny day, all this frustration suddenly vanished. I had stumbled over one performance which gradually entered the space within me that I have called my “soul”.

Something else happened, too. There was something more interesting about the discovery itself. I became aware that many of the things that I had described as too disturbing for an “ideal” reading suddenly became secondary considerations….

Probably the most surprising element of my discovery was that the interpretation that I came across “by chance” was totally unlike my own imagined “ideal” reading of the work. What I appreciated, loved, adored – and despite the deficiencies referred to above, always will!
– was the fact that this performance was the most personal one. It was not just a display of instrumental capacities at the highest level that was completely devoid of narcissism; it was genuine and very human music-making that also displayed the highest level of commitment to
the creator. It simply matched my ideal notion of “inspiration”.

So what was the recording that had dispelled the gloom of my indecision and brightened my day?For me the best, warmest, most human, most personal performance and the one most dedicated to music – one that everyone should listen to – is the live-recording of Ginette Neveu with the South-West German Radio Orchestra under Hans Rosbaud, dated September 1949, one month before, at the age of 30, she and her pianist brother died in an air crash while on their way to a concert tour in the USA.

More than any other, this performance is filled with plenty of emotion (but not emotionalism), clarity and an individual approach. Re-releasing this unique document of a human soul audibly “breathing” – literally and as well musically – would be a reminder of many things at once: the tragedy of life, the eternal power of artistic creations by geniuses, the multitude of possible approaches to a masterpiece (bearing in mind that next to it, the same set would include Diapason’s own choice, a recording by David Oistrakh – Ginette Neveu’s rival in the Wienawski competition, which she won!). To hear both of them playing the same cadenza would not be to enter them into another competition but would display something of the variety of different approaches to it. For me, the cadenza played by Ginette Neveu demonstrates the closest relationship to … Ludwig. Another reason why this, and no other recording, would be my choice.

The recordings by Heifetz and Milstein will doubtless remain as peaks of almost unachievable perfection but, in many ways, I am more impressed by musicians who are not tied to the fingerboard in their thinking and playing but have set their sights on the distant horizons of the realm where music dwells in its fullness. However, the Ginette Neveu recording would be a wonderful document for all those who cherish not just great playing of an instrument but all that goes with it – an attempt to place a composer’s transcendent intention in a different dimension through a performer’s “soul”, one that will live on in the hearts and minds of those who hear it.

Rediscovering the magic of Ginette Neveu in performance became the greatest reward of the adventure on which I had embarked.

You do not have to listen very long to the Ginette Neveu recording to hear what Gidon is getting at.  The SWR radio orchestra are excellent and the tempo set by Hans Rosbaud amounts to an open invitation to the violinist to try something different, knowing the accompaniment is so secure. Rosbaud speeds up provocatively before the soloist comes in, challenging her to defy him, which she directly does. From here on it’s anyone’s game, the lead switching from maestro to virtuoso and back again. Unimaginably thrilling, this recording is one of the all-time essentials – a performance of near-surreal levels of concentration.

Put it on your must-listen list, then check in again tomorrow for some more, very different interpretations.


UPDATE: The concerto was an instant flop. Often still is.