Fritz Gerber, former head of Roche pharmaceuticals, has died at 91. He was also chairman of Zurich Insurance, making him one of the most powerful men in Swiss industry.

The official statement says: ‘In 1999 he created the Fritz Gerber Foundation for Gifted Young People, which provides financial support for the education and training of young athletes, craftsmen and artists. Fritz Gerber was also active in the Paul Sacher Foundation for Contemporary Music, on the Board of Trustees of the Lucerne Music Festival and the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.’

Big loss.



The pitch is true, but he smudges every bar line. Wonderful despite all.

The conductor was Axel Stordahl. A pseudonym?

The real deal is this:



Carlo Fuortes, head of Opera di Roma, has announced a plan to stage operas in the Piazza di Siena, in the park of Villa Borghese.

The plan has the approval of the mayor’s scientific advisers and the space will accommodate 1,000 distanced spectators.

The first opera will be Rigoletto with Salsi and Grigolo, conducted by Daniele Gatti.

It’s a start.

Message from general director Robert K Meya:


It is with profound sadness that I announce today that the Santa Fe Opera has been forced to cancel its 2020 Season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This difficult but necessary decision was made with the health and safety of our staff, artists, patrons and the entire Santa Fe community at the forefront of our thoughts.

Each year at this time, we begin to welcome over 600 additional staff members in preparation for our summer performances. Many of them now face an extremely difficult and uncertain future. It is with their welfare in mind that I announce our commitment to providing a level of compensation to all artists, musicians, artisans and seasonal staff who were engaged for the 2020 Season.

But, we can only do so with your help. I ask you to please support this commitment by donating the value of your tickets back to the Santa Fe Opera. With over $5 million in tickets already sold for the 2020 Season, this represents the single greatest financial challenge we currently face as well as the greatest opportunity for you to help during this time of unprecedented need. 

UPDATE: Santa Fe Music Festival is also off. It will make ‘partial payments’ to the contracted musicians.’

New England Conservatory has decided to shut Jordan Hall to outside organizations for the entire 2020-2021 concert season, ‘due to the current COVID-19 situation’.

That leaves Boston Baroque without a season unless they can locate an alternative venue.

They seem pretty shocked.



The ARD competition, the classical event with the most television hours, has been called off this year under Covid rules.

It was meant to run from August 31 to September 18.

2019 winner Haruma Sato

“It is now clear that the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic makes it impossible to carry out a sensible, and above all fair competition in the usual manner. Despite extending the application deadline twice already, we have accepted that we cannot stage the competition this year. At this stage in time, it is impossible to gauge whether, at the end of August, the candidates and jury members would be able to travel – and in view of the very nature of this international competition, with competitors from many countries on four continents, this is an absolute prerequisite. When it comes to the organization of this event, the world’s largest classical music competition in 21 alternating categories, there are just too many imponderables,” the competition’s artistic management explained.

Last Friday, four members of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra played in front of an audience of 20.

The events was streamed live on Chinese media platforms.

For its next concert, on May, the Orchestra will have 30-40 players and a conductor, Zhang Jiemin. They will play works by Bartok, Barber and Piazzolla.


The death is reported of Maestro Florentino Dias, founding regent of the Rio de Janeiro Philharmonic Orchestra.

No cause has been given but the symptoms are said to have been consistent with Covid-19.


On March 8, five days before lockdown, the Amsterdam Gemengd Koor (mixed choir) gave a performance of Bach’s St John Passion in the great hall of the Concertgebouw. That concert will be remembered for many tragic reasons.

It was announced on Dutch news last night that four people associated with the chorus – one singer and three partners of chorus members – died of Coronavirus after the concert, and 102 more fell sick, some seriously.

The chorus has 130 singers in all.

The conductor Paul Valk was among those who were hospitalised.

The Gemengd Koor, founded in 1928, is an amateur ensemble whose performances take place at the Concertgebouw.

Full report here.


Los Nazis en Chile, a book by the Chilean philosopher Victor Farias recently translated into German, is highly critical of the great pianist for remaining in Germany until 1939 and making all the appropriate noises to appease the authorities.

Arrau, 36, was married to a German mezzo and had two small children. His primary concern was the get his family out to his native Chile before Germany started a war.

He was never sympathetic to Nazi aims.


Dominik Deuber, ousted earlier this year in an internal upheaval after 12 years as head of the Lucerne Festival Academy, has been named executive and artistic director of the Musikkollegium Winterthur.

Lucerne has clamped down on its turmoil. What goes in Switzerland, stays in Switzerland.