Initimable, usurpassable.

Josquin des Pres, 500 years since his death
Camille Saint-Saens, Engelbert Humperdinck: 100 years
Igor Stravinsky, 50 years
Alexander Zemlinsky, born 1871
Malcolm Arnold, born 1921
Likewise Aastor Piazolla


Mario Lanza, born 1921
Enrico Caruso, died 1921


Anna Netrebko, Evgeny Kissin, born 50 years ago

From the occasional blog of our friend and colleague Ariane Todes, former editor of The Strad:

This year, I’ve watched my entire industry collapse. In the absence of live communal playing, musicians and groups have desperately tried to find ways to communicate across the screen, but here’s my terrible confession: outside of my work, I’ve hardly interacted with any of it. This is not because of its quality or intention, but because I haven’t felt like it.

This terrible and surreal year has changed my relationship with classical music entirely, but not only in bad ways. Normally I’d go to a couple of concerts a week, for both work and pleasure. I’d play in an amateur concert every couple of months, with occasional chamber music and irregular boot camp of scales and studies to keep in shape. This year I’ve barely picked up my violin.

Here’s another terrible confession: I don’t feel like I miss either experience. For my own sake, this is alarming because the violin and going to concerts are at the core of my identity. More importantly, if it’s this easy for me to be without live classical music, what does the future hold for those of us who work in this world? What if people let go and don’t come back?

Read on here (it’s not all gloom).



Evidence of sexual discrimination at the Semper Oper, Dresden:

Opera singers Junges Ensemble/
for the Dresden State Opera (Semperoper), seasons 2021/22 and 2022/23.

Applications will be accepted from opera singers of all nationalities who are at the beginning of their
professional careers. There is an age restriction of 28 years for female singers and 30 years for male
singers, and all applicants must have a basic working knowledge of the German language.
The programme membership lasts two years. All members of the Junges Ensemble will receive a
monthly allowance which is similar in amount to a basic stage contract.


More than 200,000 have signed a petition we posted this week, calling for a debate on restrictions for UK musicians who want to perform in the European Union.

No date has been set, but the Government has allocated parliamentary time to the issue.

A spokesperson told the BBC: ‘The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.

‘We recognise that there could be some additional processes for those working in creative industries, but we have ensured that the visa application processes for longer-term business travel will be transparent to provide certainty and clarity.’

From a graveside hesped delivered yesterday by Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur:

This man had many names, more or less known, those given to him by his life, his relatives, his commitments …
There is the name given to him by his birth, him the son of Asher and Hedva, the child dreams of a Yiddishkeit rebuilding itself in a new world, on the land that will become the State of Israel. He is the only child of this family hope, a child born in Haifa in 1922 and who bears a name, oh so symbolic: YITS’HAK MEIR. Literally it is called in Hebrew: “the laughter that illuminates” . And, in fact, I believe that this beloved child was charged with an expectation of special joy which was to shine on the world.
Very quickly, his laughter resonates and illuminates, through an instrument, a violin that he requested so young.
The whole family and loved ones contribute to give it to him when he is a very small child. Quickly, this child musician is recognized as the bearer of immense talent, and sent with his mother, his dear mother Hedva to Europe to develop his talent like no other.

And the laughter and the light it carries will then have to cross the fear and the darkness of a night falling on the world. The war begins. But this child also knows the chance, and even what one could call the miracle, to be saved. He leaves in time for England where he is sheltered, and even provides for the needs of the family, thanks to the violin.

Very young, he will know the mourning, the mourning of a much loved mother. No doubt that this lack will leave traces all his life, and will be told in an infinite quest for love that will last nearly a century.

And Yits’hak Meïr, laughter and light, did not have only one name… he had to change it because, he was told, “it still sounds too Jewish”. The joker and humorous kid has an idea. It borrows from French geography the name of a small town in the Parisian suburbs IVRY… but translates to those who know how to listen to the full depth of their Jewish and Israeli identity.
IVRY is, of course, the name which in Hebrew specifically designates the Hebrew identity. From that time on, this man we are accompanying calls himself and will be known by a Hebrew name. As a way of saying to the world which invited him to hide his origins: “Go and show yourself! “. “This is who I am and forever, a Hebrew”.

Read on here.

Paul Allen, 65, was found dead in the passenger seat of his car. Police have given the cause as ‘homicidal violence’.

A graduate of the University of North Texas Paul was a well-known fixture in cabaret bars and shopping malls.


The conductor Jane Glover, 71, has become a Dame of the British Empire in the UK New Year’s Honours.

The opera director Graham Vick is now Sir Graham.

Wasfi Kani, founder of Grange Park Opera, has been made CBE, as have conductor Daniel Harding, pianist Barry Douglas and composer Julian Anderson.

There are OBEs for cellist Natalie Clein and pianist Wayne Marshall.

A thoughful start to a difficult year.


124 Bulgarian tenor Kamen Tchanev, 56

125 Lee Dykes, music teacher, father of six

126 Sudanese singer Hamad Al-Rayah, 80

127 Russian curator Irina Antonova, 98

128 Bengali sarod maestro  Ustad Shahadat Hossain, 62

129 Chicago producer Matthew Agostini, 50

130 Pennsylvania jazzman Russ Neff

131 Yo Yo Ma ensemble player Bassam Saba, 61

132  Amsterdams’ English organist Michael Hedley, 69

133 La Scala soprano Cecilia Fusco

134 Cajun musician Layton Thibodeaux, 66

135 Violinist Camilla Wicks, 92

136 Conductor Petras Bingelis, director of Kaunas State Choir, 78

The previous week’s list is to be found here.


137 Scottish bassist Ron Matthewson, 76

138 Children’s music  and theatre producer Dawn Lindberg

139 Composer Harold Budd, 84

140 UK-based Congolese musician Nzaya Nzayadio, 65

141 Czech composer Vadim Petrov, 84

142 Lutheran Summer Music School chief Peter Wessler, 63

143 Brazilian star Paulinho, 68

144 Country king Charley Pride, 86

145 Washington violist Miriam Gershfeld, 89

146 K T Oslin, Nashville star, 78

147 Chorus singer Mkhululi Peki Mboniswa.

148 Karlheinz Drechsel, Berlin jazz writer, 89

149 Marilyn Belz, founder of Belz school of Jewish music in NY, 91

150 Music teacher Rosemary Collins, 51

151 Organist John Bullough, 91

152 Romanian opera singer Maria Macsim Nicoară, 52

153 Pianist Fou Ts’ong, 86


154 Mexican composer Armando Manzanero, 85

Joshua Kosman has a fascinating profile in the San Francisco Chronicle of the British horn player Mark Almond, newly appointed associate principal French horn player in the San Francisco Symphony.

Mark, who is 40 and from Boton, Lancs, is a fully qualified physician with a PhD in virology.

Over the last few months, he put on his scientist’s hat and trooped off to the Rosenberg Lab at UCSF, where he’s been doing COVID-19 research as a paid member of the laboratory staff. ‘I’ve been really lucky to have this background in pandemic flu,’ Almond told The Chronicle.

How did that come about?

Almond was the principal horn player in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and then the European Union Youth Orchestra, all while preparing for university on a medical track. ‘I studied pre-clinical medicine at Cambridge; then in my second year I got a phone call from the London Symphony Orchestra, asking me to come play with them. So I made my professional debut at 19, touring Europe with (conductor) Riccardo Chailly…. I had literally just delivered a baby as a medical student when the Philharmonia Orchestra called and offered me the job of third horn.’

Read more here.


Claude Bolling died today, aged 90.

An admirer of Duke Ellington, he stuck to trad when others went modern and was happy playing classical with Jean-Pierre Rampal. He composed music for more than 100 films.