The missing years of tragic Eldar Aliev

The missing years of tragic Eldar Aliev


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2020

No-one knows what happened to the international bass singer in the last 15 years of his life, before he wound up homeless in Milan, dead on its streets.

At the start of the century, he had the stage at his feet – in demand at the major opera houses and known to all the leading conductors. He has been described to us as an intelligent and personable man, musically gifted and theatrically adept. He had everything to sing for, including a wife and two children.

So why did he drop out?

There are rumours of mental health and substance abuse issues, but these would be contingent with homelessness.

What should concern us is that the opera world, supposedly sensitive and humane, allowed a prominent performer to crash into oblivion. Whatever happened to Eldar Aliev, it must not be allowed to recur. Let’s take care at all times of our colleagues.




  • Richard Miller says:

    “Er war ein guter Mann mit einem Herz aus Gold. Eine edle Seele. Er akzeptierte als Almosen nur Münzen. Wenn ihm jemand einen Zehn-Euro-Schein gab, sagte er “Das ist zu viel” und gab ihm 8 Euro als Wechselgeld zurück.” “He was a good man with a heart of gold. A noble soul. He accepted only coins as alms. If someone gave him a 10-Euro note, he’d say “That’s too much” and give 8 Euro’s back in change.” SWR2

  • Roxy says:

    Rather naive take on the “supposedly sensitive and humane” opera world, no?

  • Sam McElroy says:

    What an awful, tragic story, reminiscent of the Nathaniel Ayers story, as told in “The Soloist”. And I agree with your closing petition. We must help. But that means clearing the spare room and housing the less fortunate, inviting them to our dinner tables without expectation or condition. How many of you out there are willing to do that? Because the near future may necessitate that sort of “action directe”. Talk is cheap.

    • David says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with Sam. We should all help each other, but we all have different gifts, a great colleague may not have the personal acumen to be a personal helper. Mental illness is incredibly difficult, those that suffer make decisions that are beyond reason and frustrate the best of friends.

      I don’t want my musical colleague making a medical decision and I don’t want to hear my doctor sing. Let’s be kind, be friends and make referrals to the professionals.

  • An Opinionated Woman says:

    You are making the assumption that his colleagues in the opera world didn’t try to help. On what basis do you say that? Have you contacted people who worked with him over the years to ask what they did or didn’t do? What has led you to believe that no one tried to help? In so many cases of mental heath and drug abuse issues, offers of help are rejected and it’s very hard to make an adult person do something against their will even if it’s in their best interest.

    This sad story deserves a deeper investigation, not just shallow blog posts about rumors and unfair criticism of an entire industry. Do better!

    • Thomas Dawkins says:

      Precisely. You cannot help somebody who is not ready to accept that help, and if you force it upon them, it will do no good. Much mental illness is so insidious because it robs us of the very faculties that would normally tell us “you need help with this” or “you are worthy of receiving help.” It’s very sad, and sometimes there isn’t much that can be done even with the best of intentions.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Well-stated. Homelessness is much too complicated an issue to make any assumptions without facts. To assume that Mr. Aliev’s family, friends or colleagues could have made a difference–with the great assumption that they did not try–is going a little too far for the sake of a headline.

      The dramatic turn of Eldar Aliev’s life was tragic and it may be a lesson for us to look for opportunities to help others if we can. Mental illness and/or substance abuse is not for amateurs to diagnose or cure.

    • Kaira S.M. says:

      In general, I agree with you. Do you have any specific information about valuable attempts to help Eldar Aliyev by colleagues?

  • Olassus says:

    He left complete recordings of: Moïse et Pharaon, ou Le passage de la Mer Rouge with Michele Pertusi, led by Jurowski at Pesaro in 1997; Parisina d’Este with Alexandrina Pendatchanska conducted by Emmanuel Plasson in Lugano that year; I Capuleti e i Montecchi conducted by Campanella in London in 2001; and Macbeth with Deborah Voigt and Leo Nucci conducted by Conlon in Paris the next year.

    • Smaragds says:

      Thank you. Very valuable information. I had the good fortune to listen to Eldar at the international vocal competition in Baku in 2000. It was a fantastic performance! I think now our main task is to collect all Eldar’s recordings and release CD.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Unspeakably sad. Everyone is vulnerable, but not everyone can avail himself of Robert Frost’s counsel in “Provide, Provide”.

    From another source: To those the gods love, they ive all / All joy, all sorrow. And whom they destroy they grind to dust. None can say with certainty, I will never have to endure that. Yet something in us says it should not be, in lives like this. The pity of it.

  • Occamsrazor says:

    An American friend of mine who had a brief period of homelessness told me: just call your friends and relatives and tell them you just lost your job, have no savings and about to become homeless. You’ll see that you have nobody that would lend you a couple of grand. In my younger years I did a fair amount of hanging out on the streets of New York at night. I’ve heard stories that are worth publishing but the genre of junkie confessions has been done to death. The sooner you realize that even your closest relatives don’t give half a rats ass about you, the sooner you spend your first day as an adult.

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      An alternative theory is that based on your history, well known to relatives, they realize that you have problems not solvable with a couple grand. This would be the one favored by Occam’s razor.

      • Occamsrazor says:

        Your mind might be enquiring but you like most people utterly lack compassion. In such situation one gives a couple of grand not to fix problems but possibly to prevent the person from freezing to death or getting shanked on the street this very month. Get my point, papi? That is tangible help but musicians only offer “beautiful gestures “ like playing Boulez to a bearded Moslem who is staring at his kid with both of his arms blown off.

        • Enquiring Mind says:

          My point is that there are many theories here and yours is not the simplest explanation (Occam’s Razor). But yours is possibly the angriest at friends, relatives, and musicians. I had a friend (not very close) call me up, after a few years absence, and ask for 3k because he couldn’t pay his mortgage. I was prepared to give it to him and I asked, “how do I know you won’t need another 3k next month” because if he didn’t have a plan, I wanted to help him get out his financial mess beginning with my cash infusion. But he said “you don’t” and hung up. Thinking back, I’m damn glad I didn’t give money to someone thinking like a junkie. Having compassion means really wanting to help someone, not just help them dig a deeper hole.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            I’m not blaming you for thinking the way you do because I mostly agree with you . But I believe that junkie lives matter. All drugs should be legalized except things like pcp,lsd etc which make people see things that are not there. Opiates rarely kill the user or damage his health, what kills is the lifestyle that hard drugs bring, having to spend insane amounts of money on substance that costs the same to produce as carrots. I’m sure that the singer we are talking about here, God rests his soul, had also mental illness on top of his addiction, whatever it was, heroin, coke, booze or all of them. Rachmaninov, shortly after he came to USA, saw a blind black old lady begging on the street. He started weeping and digging through his pockets, he didn’t have the sum he considered to be enough and borrowed from the friends that were with him a 1000$ and gave it to her. Back then people still genuinely believed in God. The fact that the guy we are talking about died the way he did shouldn’t be a surprise. How many of today’s conservatory students are genuinely religious? You’d be a laughing stock if you admitted to that.

          • Nijinsky says:

            That’s true about street drugs, I think they all should be legal. I don’t know about opiates not killing anyone, but if they were legal it would be an interesting speculation to see whether they killed more or less than alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, Hollywood chase scenes (probably with police regarding what’s still illegal, non conforming) and other legal substances and or processes.

            I had never heard that about Rachmaninoff, thanks for sharing that. That he gave a blind beggar woman 1000 dollars, which given inflation is closer to a years wages for a normal person than not. In Artur Rubinstein’s memoires he says that he ended up in the same room as Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, who first were arguing but then started agreeing about about how much money they could have earned in different situations but hadn’t. Artur said he was terrified at how aggressively they did that, which is kind of funny, given that he earned more money than either of those two, and I don’t recall him ever commissioning anything from a live composer – he had someone write out one of Art Tatum’s improvisations so he could to play it for him, but don’t recall him commissioning a live composer – and did find it appropriate to criticize the Polish composer Szymanowski for his social behavior. And found it entertaining to poke fun of Stravinsky…

            Chopin being unavailable for such scrutiny was spared, it seems.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            Nijinsky, opiates very rarely kill, only a novice user without a tolerance can overdose on it, usually other drugs are present such as benzo and alcohol. A buddy of mine who’s been doing heroin since he was 12 recently ODed on a bag that was laced with fentanyl. He is 64 and in very good health, working Puertorican guy. The wife who’s also a junkie called the paramedics and they revived him with naloxone so he is good as new. What kills is dirty needles and the lifestyle that it brings, imagine having to pay 50-100$ for insulin, because for trained, committed junkies there’s almost no pleasure but only absence of withdrawal. I’m certain that all drugs except hallucinogens should be freely available for prices similar to those of Tylenol’s. It’ll never happen because illicit drugs trade is a trillion dollars a year cash economy, paying for black operations and all the other nefarious things. I didn’t know Rubinstein made more money than Rachmaninov. I know Rachmaninov played about 50 concerts a year and got 5000$ for each. 1000$ then is roughly 10000$ in today’s fiat gum wrappers but to him it was only 25 minutes of work.

          • Nijinsky says:

            I don’t at all know the data regarding how much money Rubinstein earned, I’m assuming that in total he earned more than Rachmaninoff or Stravinsky, given his celebrity stats.

            And I could have been completely wrong, now that I check it, regarding Rachmaninoff, it says on some strange site (who knows how accurate these internet sites are) about celebrity net worth that he’s worth 45 million, but Rubinstein 19 million, Stravinsky is then a bleak 2 million (as if that’s bleak but anyhow).

            It appears Rachmaninoff had a whole circus career, also:


            Rachmaninoff’s net worth

            Stravinsky’s net worth

            Arthur Rubinstein’s

            Doesn’t really make any sense, I still think Arthur Rubinstein in his lifetime might have earned more money than any composer, but I don’t know how much Rachmaninoff earned as a conductor added to his piano concerts and compositions.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            Nijinsky,I`m FOREVER in your debt for informing me about Rachmannoff`s weightlifting.To me he is next after God,I live within a 20 minute drive from his grave. I knew that Hoffmann was a pro gymnast. I was a semi-pro teenage powerlifter, could squat double my bodyweight at 17, have been working out all my life since 12, switched to kettlebells recently. If you`re ever in NYC,let me know. Thanks a million!

          • Akbar Oman says:

            “Thinking back, I’m damn glad I didn’t give money to someone thinking like a junkie.

            Having compassion means really wanting to help someone, not just help them dig a deeper hole.”

            This is EXACTLY what MAGA is all about. Endless handouts to junkies on the left has obviously done them much more harm than good considering the skyrocketing violence, mental breakdowns, crime, homelessness, rampant drug use, etc where Democrats run cities and states.

            Glad to see this grownup response from Enquiring Mind. We’re going to have another great term with Trump in November 2020. The left is too mentally ill to speak out against violence and destruction perpetrated by their own which fuels Trump supporters. I pray they find the right meds instead of street drugs.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            Akbar Oman, inshalla!

  • DAVID says:

    Sadly, as tragic this story is, it is unfortunately not surprising. The classical music world is one of the most ruthless paths one may choose as a career. It is in many cases a shockingly unfair industry in which incredibly talented people can essentially be relegated to oblivion, while others with much lesser talent are being celebrated and adulated. This state of affairs is concurrent with the advent of modern media and of the internet, which has privileged appearance over substance and, as in every other sphere of life, marketability over artistic value. People like Bruno Walter, Horowitz, Oistrakh, Milstein, and too many other names to mention — none of them would have a single chance today. They were simply too old, too ugly, not instagrammable enough, not mainstream enough for a world which has become incapable of gravity and which judges everything through the lens of social acceptability and conformism. Most of them would probably have despised the antiseptic culture we have created, in which the image dominates all else at the expense of genuine artistry. Like many other fields, classical music is also a highly political, singularly mean-spirited environment in which any artist’s reputation may be demolished on a whim, as very few people have enough ears to judge properly. Reputations are no longer made on artistic worth; rather they are made on factors closer to the selling of merchandise than to the preservation of an art form.

    • The View from America says:

      Modern culture may be many things, but “antiseptic” isn’t the term that jumps immediately to mind.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Great comment,David. I see you already got a dislike. What you said is self-evident to any classical musician. Imagine young Rachmaninov,Horowitz, Friedmann etc today, entering a competition. Let alone their playing,the men were guilty of the cardinal sin, they NEVER moved. If they were alive today, Rachmaninov would most likely become a drunk horse breeder, Horowitz would succumb to benzodiazepines, Friedmann,Barere and Hoffmann, judging from their build, would be unloading trucks at Amazon fulfillment warehouses,etc.Forgot, Hoffmann would be a car mechanic.

    • V. Lind says:

      And it is not going to improve if a certain group of activists have their way.

  • Nijinsky says:

    Sigh and sigh and sigh and sigh….

    Being homeless is being homeless. There was the Peace Pilgrim, and she decided to be homeless, spent 28 years walking as a Pilgrim to show there is another way Just because someone is “homeless” or shows signs of “mental illness,” doesn’t mean they don’t have their life together, maybe they’re living a life that’s about being human rather than a programmed form of survival that goes against it. Clearly Eldar Aliev had something to say too, despite the “brotherhood:”

    What’s saddest is when someone has something going on they can’t identify, and really don’t feel like getting involved with what further doesn’t feel right, and then give up, when the answer would be so much easier than everything that says they will fix him or her up.

    It’s real easy to say someone is mentally ill, that’s like saying they don’t conform to the consensual reality deportment of the communist party, or of capitalism, or they don’t attend a church, or are wearing the wrong uniform, any number of “symptoms,” from those that are extreme to those that are mild, but that doesn’t address why they behave in a fashion other people wouldn’t find logical or find disruptive. And substance abuse is how one disassociates from all of that. To say someone needs “treatment,” again is putting them in a system which offers legal controlled substances that can do the same thing, help someone disassociate from uncomfortable feelings they don’t understand. And along with people truly struggling and wanting to find out what their mind is trying to express, the mental health system rewards token people glad to have their mind disabled with psychiatric drugs, people that get rewards when they feel privileged to go along with and contribute to making conspiracy theories about normal reactions to difficulties in life, to trauma, to finding out you can deal with stuff you thought was impossible. If that works for them, fine, but then why do others that feel differently have to be forced on such treatment, and why are alternative treatments that have far greater efficacy denied and dismissed, and why with the advent of psychiatric drugs is there an extreme spike in mental illness and disability rather than a decrease? And where does this leave someone that truly, truly could work out what’s going on with them, could venture deeper into what it is to be human than being considered a functional peon in “society,” when his or her response to it is tagged with a DSM label?

    I really hesitate to say anything about all of this, because I have a totally different perspective. We don’t know that he didn’t have more of a life and more of an experience of being human as a homeless person than he would have had zipping around opera houses and going to parties behaving himself. And that’s about what remains from life, not what rewards one got from conforming…

    • Ashu says:

      I know the myth you’re spouting, which is every bit as destructive, simplistic, and false as the myth of mental illness you pompously denounce with your appropriated cheap rhetoric. And I know these myths from the inside, because I was and am one of those people you pretend to defend, who managed – just barely – to get on top of my condition – madness, homelessness, addiction – without having to rely on drugs that none of us would take if we had any choice. I would never condemn a brother or sister of mine who has been forced to take whatever help they could find in conventional psychiatry. We seize on whatever we can in order to survive this nightmare, and no brother or sister, no one who actually knows it in its complex reality, would condemn another for doing whatever they need to – and certainly not in the despicable language that you use, calling them cowards and conformists. Despicable! These are matters of life and death for people you clearly do not know, and whose struggle is none of your business.

      • Nijinsky says:

        By the way, the software of this blog, when one has indented paragraphs loses that indentation.

        Here hopefully is what I wrote with a space between the paragraphs….


        This article is about a man who chose himself to become homeless, someone that everyone said was the nicest man there was, and after numerous people start chalking on about mental illness, it’s only appropriate for me to point out how the whole mental illness industry with its “treatments” has only caused more disability and a spike of “mental illness.” If things were done differently, there might have been someplace for this man to go to, or feel that he could go to, that would have given him a home. Not even a place labeled as someplace for people with a “mental lllness,” simply a place that has a different outlook on people’s responses to life. But with the present “treatments” in the mental health system only a minority of the people are really helped statistically, the majority aren’t, thus the extreme spike. Those are simply the facts. You can read all about it in books by Robert Whitaker or Moncrieff.
        I also have helped quite a few people to get off of drugs that weren’t helping them, or simply to see that what was going on with them wasn’t anything that needed psychiatric help but a normal response to whatever was going on with them, so it really isn’t true that it’s none of my business, nor that I’m talking about people I don’t know. You clearly don’t know me making such statements. Evidently a nerve has been touched.

        I also know that there are quite a crowd of people that are on psychiatric medications and would do anything they can, and even lie, to get others on such disabling agents, very much the same as peer pressure regarding street drugs, only they will turn into interpreting anything they can label as a symptom as an excuse for getting someone into forced treatments, the end result being that after an interim period when “symptoms” are suppressed there’s more relapsing, more disability and loss of life expectancy because of the “medications.” And I’ve seen many people’s lives ruined being forced on “medications” they can’t get off of, nor whose effect they are aware of because of anosognosia, which comes from the drugs not the diagnosed disease. It’s also true that the psychiatric industry uses token people to advertise it’s treatments, and gives them ample rewards when they make out normal responses to life that are difficult as being much more of a problem than they really are, and then see their mind disabled by psychiatric drugs as being proof of such difficulty, something that a healthy mind could have potentially seen as something they could deal with.

        I also was pointing out how easily anyone that shows behavior that goes against societal programming can be tagged with a DSM label simply because they can’t conform anymore, rather than there is any disease going on. And the whole push to have anything that is labeled as a symptom suppressed with psychiatric medications only creates more hysteria and paranoia against normal responses to difficulty in life, and dissent, whether it’s conscious or unconscious.

        You mention that you didn’t have to rely on drugs that none of us would take had we any choice, but fail to mention the whole epidemic of people who had no choice and were forced on such drugs, and that statistics show they are disabling their mind from even understanding what happened in the first place, while people that get off of their “medications,” statistically do better, without the recycling, relapsing and disability that occurs with “medications.” It becomes quite a loaded statement to talk about drugs none of us would take had we any choice, and then fail to point out the whole epidemic of people that had no choice, and not because they felt the drugs helped them. People that then can have EXTREME difficulty getting off of drugs that they feel dampen their spirit, push their thoughts away, cause a myriad of side effects and consequently also disable them. Then you talk about matters of life and death, when the amount of loss of life expectancy as well as deaths from suicides or toxicity of psychiatric drugs is astounding, would you look into it.

        I also never, as you say in your response stacked with a plethora of derogatory adjectives and adverbs that look like something a synthetic intelligence program would spin out, that I insulted anyone who is looking for help, I simply pointed out what statistically helps and what hasn’t, something the psychiatric industry isn’t going to tell people who are looking for a solution, and that they [the psychiatric industry with it’s corporate interests, guilds, stock values and the like] are the ones creating conspiracy theories against normal responses to difficulties in life and give rewards to those that go along with it that mislead other people. And scientifically psychiatric drugs cause chemical imbalance, they don’t treat it, how they disable the mind which suppresses symptoms for an interim, that is advertised as treating a chemical imbalance when it’s really creating one. The drug companies have known that from the beginning, and lied about it, along with a whole list of side effects that when exposed cause the drug companies to have to pay more than 6 billion dollars of fines for false advertising. What I said was that some people are “happy” with such rewards and then don’t know they are promoting incorrect information. Most of the psychiatric drugs from the earlier part of the 20th century are now street drugs, now promoted with the same kind of peer pressure tactics as went on then in many ways. I also wouldn’t promote someone who thinks turning to them, or a pint of whiskey a day, would help them with their “mental illness,” or emotional problems, but then would get from many people the same response as from you, as if I’m condemning them from taking whatever help they can get. I’m simply pointing out what has been shown to help, and that what doesn’t and isn’t . To start speaking of making headway, of compelling evidence pointing out there’s a solution that hasn’t been found yet with such substances and the rest of it isn’t pointing out that wasn’t hasn’t been proven to help but has caused a whole epidemic is later on going to fix all of it. If someone still feels they need psychiatric drugs that’s a different point and a different discussion, and I would simply listen and have, and there always would be other stuff that would turn up they could talk about, but that doesn’t change the whole missing link of information regarding what should have been informed consent to begin with. Nor does that push to the side all of the alternative methods that have proven to be more effective, but are largely suppressed.

        I have no need to respond to whether I know the complexity of the situation, or whether I’ve been through it, nor to start articulating what I’ve been through, and I’m really not interested in having a debate about it with someone who already has decided I couldn’t. You clearly don’t know that about me. Nor could you. It’s real easy to say about someone who you couldn’t really know: “they don’t know what it’s like, and it’s none of their business.” I’ve heard that so often from someone with disabling demands they feel need to be met that disregard their own insensitivity. Psychiatry now in the google search I just did, says that almost half of all people will have a psychiatric problem sometime in their life. All those people have the right to know the truth about standard treatments. That IS their business. And they deserve not to be made part of the current epidemic clearly in correlation with current standard treatment.

        • Nijinsky says:

          Sorry, this sentence:

          “To start speaking of making headway, of compelling evidence pointing out there’s a solution that hasn’t been found yet with such substances and the rest of it isn’t pointing out that wasn’t hasn’t been proven to help but has caused a whole epidemic is later on going to fix all of it.”

          “Wasn’t” was supposed to be “what”, to get:

          To start speaking of making headway, of compelling evidence pointing out there’s a solution that hasn’t been found yet with such substances and the rest of it isn’t pointing out that what hasn’t been proven to help but has caused a whole epidemic is later on going to fix all of it.

          It’s just a bit difficult to keep track of what’s what and what’s wasn’t when an industry promises it will find a solution, while the solution it’s forcing on people has created an epidemic, thus to excuse that and find it necessary we’re to believe there’s some amazing solution coming in the future.

      • Nijinsky says:

        There’s also a difference between “taking whatever help one can find” and overlooking that one is investing in and becoming a consumer of an industry that statistically makes life more difficulty for many feeling it’s not helping them survive although they are forced to into such “treatment, and many in fact losing their life.

        To speak of “brothers and sisters.”

        That becomes nothing more than territorial games, overlooking the decimation of a culture or a whole population in order to get set piece of “comfort.” Neither is that true comfort or survival.

      • Nijinsky says:

        I looked over this again, and I really wasn’t calling anyone at all a coward; certainly not someone struggling with what’s labeled by society as a mental illness. I can even see how what I stated would be read that way, but that’s not what I was saying. I was simply pointing out how they might be being mislead, and that it could help them to look further into the situation. And people very easily do get misinformed when they are desperate, that’s a whole method of mind control: destabilize an environment and people are impressionable. Then, would they have had difficulty with symptoms that are suppressed with psychiatric drugs, they can feel relieved, although it might be comparable to turning off an annoying warning signal, or beyond that simply not missing the adventure of seeing that not becoming alarmed about a situation could bring solutions the becoming alarm pushes to the side.

        I’ve had severe symptoms of mental illness at times, never from substance abuse, unless you call five cups of coffee a day substance abuse; but doing that much of anything (cigarettes too years ago) comes from not having been given the legroom to express yourself enough to feel safe relating to one’s own feelings, feelings that would tell you to not drink that much coffee. So there’s a whole other switch going on then just substances, and treating such problems with more substances that mess around with brain chemistry isn’t going to help in the long run. Coffee and cigarettes both mess around with dopamine already, and coffee also messes around with serotonin. But when I learned not to push the feelings to the side I had become uncomfortable with (having not been allowed to express them) I also learned that was something beyond what I knew feelings to be, because it wasn’t anymore anything specific so much, just a different way of responding, something akin to what art is, something that spins out of an emotion, just because you allow it, or just allowing such spinning out, whether you say it comes from emotions or not. I had already experienced this with the creating of art itself, but what was called a symptom of a mental illness only helped me understand that further, more consciously.

  • Sharon says:

    As a psychiatric nurse I agree with the comments here but I want to ad that many people are very uncomfortable around mental illness, poverty, and homelessness because they do not want to think about how easily they themselves can fall into it. That is, they find being around homeless mentally ill people scary, not so much because they fear assault (although this is what they may say) but because they fear that they themselves might be next.

    • Nick says:

      Well, some, more sensitive people, might feel very depressed around mentally ill and/or homeless. Just to confirm what you are thinking, Sharon.

  • Nick2 says:

    If I recall correctly, something roughly similar happened with the excellent Scottish conductor Roderick Brydon. A pillar of Scottish Opera during its Golden Years and the first Artistic Director of the superb Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he was passed over for the Music Director posts at both the BBC Scottish Symphony and the Scottish National Orchestras. His career then took him to Music Director positions with Lucerne and Berne operas and for several years to regular guest conducting in Australia. Although his marriage had broken down he always appeared his usual cheery self. But on his return to the UK he eventually found himself sleeping rough in London. Even when friends in the profession arranged assistance from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, he refused to sign the forms. What thereafter happened I do not know. But it surely again indicates that some form of mental illness can affect even those who achieve considerable success in the business of music. Brydon died 10 years ago aged 71.

  • Nick says:

    An incredibly tragic story! My goodness! In the XXI century who would have believed that? Today’s reality!

  • Gulchin Aslanova says:

    I heard Eldar 2000 in Baku at the international competition, where he won Grand-Prix. It was one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard and an incredibly charismatic performance. May he rest in peace.

  • Occamsrazor says:

    Instead of fake covidiocy statistics lets publish the list of junkie classical musicians. I’d start with Chopin, a lifelong laudanum adherent, Horowitz a benzo abuser, Gould a Guinness book of records level benzo champion , Eugene Fodor a heroin junkie of competitive level etc.If you include writers then they could keep a methadone clinic afloat, starting with Goethe, Hugo etc. Alcohol must be included because it’s the most dangerous drug of all, the only one that causes irreversible damage. The story of this singer is not as much about him as it is about us. We lost faith, compassion, common sense and courage a long time ago. If Chopin was alive today, he’d be on the streets of nyc doing dope with black and Hispanic buddies, I don’t know Chopin personally but having known my amigos for 30 years here, I know they would buy him an occasional pizza and even share some dope, saying: leave the goddamn Polish boy alone, he be cryin’ and shit, missing his country.

  • Nijinsky says:

    This blog is now RIDDLED with people feeling comfortable with or alarmed that it’s “a mental illness,” or talking about substance abuse. It’s real easy to ignore that there might be an extremely logical reason why someone decides to become homeless, and that calling it a mental illness pushes to the side them ever feeling safe to relate to their own thoughts regarding their choices. As irrational as you may think they are. And there’s no account that this man was ANYTHING but kind and gentle during his homelessness. There then are also people that simply don’t have a home to go to. The ridiculous notion that one can round up all homeless people, put them on psychiatric drugs, give them psychiatric treatment, and then create a working society rid of such “diseases,” is more non reality based than any “schizophrenic,” could initially be, no matter how much it’s promoted by what’s him name on corporate media again. There was a woman in my city that “everyone”knew about that was simply homeless, it was her own choice, but she never did any substance abuse, it was known she had a family in another city, which one could simply pick up from talk, but it’s quite stark to see how there was absolutely no talk about what kind of logic she had about being homeless, no attempt to conceive of her choice as anything rational, or even as expressing anything, the result of a history no one knew anything about, an emotional response to life people weren’t even interested in conceiving of. I don’t think anyone on the “outside” had any clear conversation with her about that, no one would ever ask her that, it simply was seen as a disease or the likes.

    And I don’t feel the need to push to the side accurate information about psychiatric treatment or drugs, even when that seems like a desperate answer for people.

    Someone that points out the abuses of the Catholic Church, also isn’t insulting all Catholics that believe they get something out of the church or do whatever they need to, they are simply pointing out what people aren’t supposed to take into account. Nor is it abusive to point out that the Catholic Church actually in ways pushes Jesus teaching to the side (same as the psychiatric industry convolutes the idea of a chemical imbalance into an excuse to create one that wasn’t there before), teachings that otherwise would help people. In the Catholic Church, one only has to look at the long list of their saints, the ones that were truly spiritual rather than icons of doctrine or conformity to ideology, often having extreme difficulty with the “body” of the church. Same goes with the “body” of psychiatry.

    I’ve not been homeless, but I have had the strong urge to just let go of everything in such a fashion, simply having to fill out government forms where given that my “survival” depended on it, made me feel as if I was being made to feel that being apologetic for such sterility is a must, along with the whole plethora of judgments on anyone that didn’t or couldn’t “survive” in such a fashion. I’ve walked along a railroad track in the neighborhood, and in following it’s winding route couldn’t but be transported to and mesmerized by a whole other reality where following its course with nothing but my clothes and my body was liberation.

    If I had had the “medical” treatment psychiatry says should be forced on me, when I had “symptoms,” I couldn’t be responding here at all, and a whole playing out of creative and spiritual activity that allowed me to gain perspective would be missing, quite potentially the same with the whole genre of creativity that remained out of the mental health system’s grasp but has posthumously been diagnosed by them, as if that points out how they could enhance human life on the planet now. None of it being concrete diagnosis (of dead people there’s only accounts of?); and the DSM is a highly politicized construction that groups together “symptoms” in order to end up objectifying a “diagnosis,” that in reality the doctors themselves can’t consistently agree upon and have no proof at all of beyond subjective interpretation of their take on another’s behavior, let alone the consequently spike in what they say they are healing which they say shows there needs to be more treatment rather than truly pointing out what their treatments are doing. Just one example is with the applications of “medications,” the side effects are included in the disease; thus one in 20 or 30 are now considered bipolar, when it used to be one in 2000, that from antidepressants and ADHD medications handed out, both causing the bipolar diagnosis later on with one in 20 or so, and then there’s the general targeting of behaviors where other understanding is suppressed. That’s the mental health system’s “medical” and “behavioral” treatment, and that’s not taking into consideration the healing that exists from sources the medical professional would suppress or even say are non reality based, delusional or crazy, healing that goes against them making consumers out of people for physical change that only shifts the cause of the symptoms to finding more outlets and more “symptoms.”

    I could say I had “symptoms” for almost half my life, symptoms the psychiatric profession would try to force me to have treatment for (along with deciding almost half of all people will have symptoms they can call a psychiatric disease sometime in their life) but that’s not taking into consideration that the “symptoms” were like a theme that needs to be developed, that’s there hidden in the matrix of interactions and exposition, and the “symptoms” only pointed this out more stringently, that something was going on. There was no medical disease going, on and the “treatment” to suppress any productive development would have CAUSED a disease, would have CAUSED chemical imbalance. THAT’S the true science. The only thing medical going on was that I didn’t know how normal consumptions were effecting me, even having gotten addicted to them enough that I unknowlingly used them for escape, which actually pointed out their effect in the end, something moderation might not have. And I didn’t know I was pushing to the side feelings (thoughts themes) I had never encountered the legroom to express, so even when I knew that said consumption evoked said “symptoms,” when those feelings came back around I’d end up back on the consumption, the logic why not to having dissolved. To have that treated with non over the counter medications only would have added to the problem. But then Charlie Goldsmith mentioned how the discomfort we feel is from pushing feelings to the side, not from the actual feelings we could instead just feel. That not necessarily even being something one can put into any concrete form we associate with feeling a feeling, it’s more like what art becomes, I suppose some people might call it prayer even, but it’s then allowed rather than pushed to the side as disruptive or unrealistic, it’s not seen as only a luxury or a diversion a stimulant. “Primitive” cultures didn’t see art in such a fashion, indigenous cultures have a different viewpoint; and in countries where there’s not enough money for psychiatric drugs, when people are institutionalized, even when they are treated quite inhumanely, because they weren’t given said “medications,” there’s statistically more recovery.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      Nijinsky, a dear friend of mine, an American Jewish guy, died about 10 years ago. I don’t know the circumstances , suspect it was suicide. He was a guitarist who was a rabid piano fan who could discuss the nuances in pedaling of say, Sofronitsky or Cortot. He spent his entire life on major tranqs and antidepressants due to schizophrenia and ocd. Every few days we sat on a park bench, talked about Godowsky, smoked a joint , at which point I was begging him to get off the psych meds. Both of his parents were also schizophrenic and on meds. He said that whenever he tried to get off, he started hearing voices, got into fights with his dad, ended up arrested and taken to a psych ward. Before the advent of psych meds the only treatment was opiates which truly work. It’s infinitely better to be a junkie than a vegetable with tardive dyskinesia. He used to play around with heroin and agreed with me but the major tranqs robbed him of the will to live. A fantastically intelligent, kindest soul was destroyed by psychiatry. There has to be a better way than chemical lobotomy.

      • Nijinsky says:

        Occamsrazor, God bless you for just being there to talk to someone in your friend’s condition, someone that just listened rather than accosted him with the idea that he was sick. Is this too logical to point out that when you put someone in a situation, force them even into such a situation, that the people around them are going to tell them they’re sick, aren’t going to show interest in their life enough that they might unravel the knots, the history, the inability to work things out that are running them, that in such a situation they aren’t going to get better, and the environment is making them sick?

        There are a myriad of things going on with someone that’s simply labeled as hearing voices. I once had someone trying to convince people that I was “non reality based,” by stating that: “I know, it’s non reality based, he doesn’t hear voices, he sees things that aren’t there.” She first of course adjusted herself in her chair to make herself look like I won’t mention said movie star to insult them in comparison. The reality being actually that I HAD heard a clear voice telling me to stay away from her, to not even ask her any questions, but she responded in such in such a defensive way regarding simple questions about what she was supposed to be teaching that I thought that’s ridiculous, I’m not doing anything, I should be able to ask her simple questions. The whole “chemical imbalance” theory is as ridiculous, or worse. The medications for “schizophrenia” are said to treat dopamine hyper activity, but in reality cause EXACTLY that, because they put something in the dopamine receptors so they can’t work, and the brain starts consequently producing more dopamine. The medications said to prevent dopamine hyper activity cause it. They also tried to show how “schizophrenics,” brains had swelling in the inner cortex, and thus it was genetic, then had to retract that because it the “medications” were causing that. Then they changed their story to that there was such variability that, I don’t know anymore what mumbo jumbo….something akin to that it was genetic but there was such variability that it was different between people, or the next variant was saying that what they determined was genetic was there with people that hadn’t taken medications yet, and also there with those that had, which is amazing again. Can you see heart medications advertised as showing that the biological problem is there with people who are and aren’t on the medications, as proof that it’s effective!? And don’t mention how many that didn’t have that problem now do after “medications.”

        Further more about hearing voices, many people hear voices and wouldn’t know it, they think it’s their logic guiding them through reflexes and responses, they are so controlled by their indoctrination, and respond with automatic brainwashed ideology not knowing that this can be “voices.” Ask someone completely convinced that God has forsaken the US because of the legalization of gay marriage (to name just one ingrained delusion that’s considered sane by some people) and you might just hear what a person hearing voices starts encountering but with a voice hearer they might be LEARNING they have been brainwashed because they HEAR the voice they weren’t aware of before. I don’t see that creating panic and indoctrinated fear against voices helps people to understand them; and there are different kinds of voices, some give helpful information, some are manifestations of ingrained thought one can let go of, some might just be recycling memories, a need to rest, but just turning them (and the rest of a person’s personality) off with “medications” is……

        There simply are sensitive ways of dealing with all of that, and those ways are effective but don’t go along in hard liner fashion with the model that it’s a biological disease.

        I had a friend who had been off her medications for years, then was hospitalized for pneumonia, and put back on them. It’s after that that I got to know her, and she couldn’t even read a book on the meds. I told her what I thought about them, and she parroted back the systems ideology so I dropped it. But then after a couple of months or so she mentioned to me that she had titrated off of them, but she couldn’t tell her son who was regularly there, but had told him and other family members nothing, who all said that she was doing so well. And yes, she could read a book again. Eventually she moved away to another state with the only family member she could be upfront about this stuff. Sounds like your friend’s family was also quite indoctrinated. And they can get really mad when someone speaks against what they have been told to make sure is going on with their “sick” relative, despite whether it’s effective of not; and then you have all of the withdrawal symptoms and the need to find a place for legroom when emotions and memories that the disabling meds had blocked come back around. That’s where the real nightmare is. And it’s extremely heart breaking to see people go through that.

        Blessings….. sigh…..

  • Zumrud says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, thank you. How right you are when you emphasize the indifference and sometimes the harshness of the “humane” opera world. I listened to Eldar Aliyev in Baku at the international competition in 2000. He sang opera arias, romances, and even an Azerbaijani folk song. It was unforgettable. I remember him as a wonderful person – modest, sincere, very proud. Residents of Milan also talk about him as a man with a heart of gold. I am very grateful to everyone who wrote about him in the comments. Rest in Peace, our dear Eldar.