HESTON'S NOSE & THE NRA: Charlton Heston's acting career
may not have been possible were it not for the time he fell
and broke his nose, giving him that rugged, stoic look. And
that look seems to served him well in his station as president
of the National Rifle Association. "To the NRA, it must
be like having the backing of all the heroic, righteous characters
that Heston has played - not only Moses, Michelangelo, Ben-Hur,
Thomas More, Richelieu, Mark Antony and three American presidents,
but also astronauts, sports stars, saints and even God himself."
New Statesman 07/31/00
REMEMBRANCES: Van Cliburn is 66 and making still another
comeback, with a concert at Tanglewood. "Mr. Cliburn gives
the impression of being utterly content now and not too inclined
to excavate the past afresh. He lets on at one point, as if
revealing a deep family secret, that he's thinking about performing
Bach again, the E minor Partita, maybe, and he floats a program
for a scheduled Chopin recital in Boston that is so preposterously
long that it sounds like a fantasy of a young pianist in the
first flush of success - as if, no matter how stressful the
stage may have been all those years, it is still the locus of
New York Times 07/30/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
TO COPLAND: "Deeper than George Gershwin, more disciplined
than Charles Ives, more accessible than Elliott Carter, more
prolific than Leonard Bernstein, more varied than Samuel Barber,"
Aaron Copland was the giant of 20th Century American music.
He would have been 100 this year, yet no one seems to be paying
attention. Why is that?
CULT: Surely Leonard Bernstein is the most-promoted of all
dead-conductors. A new Sony project gathers up all of his recordings
for another grand compilation.
York Times 07/30/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
has made a $17 million settlement with Italian tax collectors,
ending a nasty four-year battle. CBC
OSCAR SHUMSKY dies in New York at age 83.
New York Times 07/27/00
registration required for entry)
DANIEL LIBESKIND: Libeskind's proposal of a crumpled spiral
addition between the thoroughly Victorian buildings of London's
Victoria and Albert Museum was something of a scandal when it
was unveiled in 1996. Now it looks like it may compete with
the Bilbao Guggenheim for attention." The
Telegraph (London) 07/23/00
A CONDUCTOR: Is the larger world ready to appreciate the
late great Sergiu Celibidache? "Little did anybody at that
time know to what extent Celibidache lacked a cordial relationship
with the real world. At one point, he wanted to fire the entire
Berlin Philharmonic. He demanded extravagant amounts of rehearsal
time, declined to perform with American orchestras until a 1984
engagement with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and, most curious
of all, refused to record."
Philadelphia Inquirer 07/23/00
80 YEARS LATER: "The Italian tenor died nearly 80 years
ago. But the music that fills the Enrico Caruso Museum in a
small New York City house endures around the world, too - and
still stirs controversy."
Chicago Sun-Times 07/23/00
BE DISSING GRANDPA: Turns out Stalin's 28-year-old grandson
is an artist - a painter - and judged a good one by those who
have seen his work in London and Glasgow. Just one problem -
what about those views of history he's all too happy to share?
"Stalin was a truly great man," he says. "He
was a great ruler like Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar.
He cannot be erased as if he did not exist. I do not like it
when people pretend he did not really happen in history."
The Times (London) 07/21/00
OF PERFECTION: Four years ago pianist Keith Jarrett was
struck with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome so severe it all but ended
his career. He could barely get out of bed. Now he's back and
talking about it. "Nobody gets CFS who isn't always trying
to do three or four things at a time. If you're a couch potato,
I don't think you'd be likely to get this. So if you're doing
something new that's almost an athletic event, and then inside
it is this intellectual and emotional component that requires
all your abilities every time you do it, and you're starting
from zero every time... well, it's almost a perfect disease
for me to have gotten." The
TWINKLE IN YOUR EYE, A TWINKLE IN YOUR TOE: In 1932
the Nicholas brothers were the youngest dancers ever to showcase
at the Cotton Club and the first performers allowed to mix with
a white audience. They danced with George Balanchine, Gene Kelly,
and can count Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov as some
of their biggest fans. After a life of tap dancing around
racial barriers, chasing women, and approaching life with gusto,
Harold Nicholas died this month at age 79. LA
IN HOT WATER:
Director Roman Polanski - exiled from the U.S. since a 1978
conviction for statutory rape - is now being sued by Artisan
Entertainment which claims he siphoned $1 million in VAT refunds
into a private bank account after the release of the film “The
Ninth Gate.” Sydney
Morning Herald 07/20/00
TO LOVE: The theatre world gathers to memorialize producer
David Merrick. "It was Mr. Merrick's difficult, enigmatic
personality that pervaded the memorial yesterday. While several
speakers expressed a love of the shows he created, few conveyed
a comparable love of the man." New
York Times 07/19/00 (one-time
registration required for entry
A HIGH "C" LIFE: Placido Domingo miscalculated
when he took on directing the Washington and Los Angeles opera
companies. He thought he'd be about finished singing by now.
But at age 60 the voice still works, and the conducting, directing
and singing are easily three full time jobs. What next? The
Telegraph (London) 07/18/00
Martin McDonagh seemed
to have it all three years ago. Coming from nowhere, suddenly
"several of McDonagh's ferociously comic and unsettling
plays" won great reviews and top literary prizes in the
US and Europe. But then there was a drunken squabble with Sean
Connery at an awards ceremony, "some cranky critical backlash
and a few damning interviews" and McDonough retreated.
Now he's back with a new play. Seattle
TRIES TO TURN IT AROUND: He was the Giant of Theatre in
the 1980s, producing one mega-musical hit after another. Cameron
Mackintosh is "one of Britain's 200 richest people, estimating
his personal wealth at $600 million. He owns seven theaters
in the West End of London. He was knighted in 1996 for his services
to British theater." But in the past decade he hasn't had
much luck. He's hoping that will change with his latest show,
opening in London this week.
York Times 07/17/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
RUSKIN: What was it that made John Ruskin the greatest art
and social critic of the Victorian age? A new book is great
at exploring his life; less successful at capturing his rhetorical
BARITONE Louis Quilico dies at age 75 after complications
OF THE PERFECT ASSISTANT: No matter what he has done in
the rest of his career as a musician, Robert Craft will always
be known as the man who was Igor Stravinsky's assistant. Is
that okay with him? Absolutely. "He [Stravinsky] started
composing the music he did, with the techniques he was using,
because I was able to teach him these things." The
Telegraph (London) 07/14/00
Pianist Oscar Peterson
has become the first Canadian recipient of the International
Music Council UNESCO Music Prize. "The prize is given every
year to a musician or musical institution that has contributed
to the development and enrichment of music and has served peace
and understanding around the world." CBC
AUCTION: Memorabilia from the estates of Stanley Kubrick
and Laurence Olivier are being sold at auction today. Among
Kubrick's lot are draft scripts for the nuclear war satire "Dr
Strangelove". The Olivier papers include 250 letters and
cards written by the actor and his family. BBC
POLITICAL BY BEING APOLITICAL:
"Two years ago, Bill
T. Jones was approached by Arena de le Sol in Bologna, Italy,
to make a dance depicting the influence of Latin culture in
the New World. Though confronted with issues of colonization
and what Jones describes as cultural 'collision,' he decided
to make a poetic rather than a political response to the unjust
historical truths surrounding these native communities. 'Ultimately,
I'm trying to enter this on the level of culture and art,' he
says. 'I'm trying to tell the story as I see it, and what that
looked like in terms of music.' "
THE SAME OLD: It seems the more conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt
likes a piece of music, the less he's inclined to perform it.
He's a sworn enemy of routine. This and his thoughts on Bach,
Bruckner and Beethoven.
The Independent (London) 07/10/00
PAPER TO THE REAL WORLD:
He's one of the
world's most celebrated architects, but so far he hasn't had
much built to show for it. Now Rem Koolhaas's buildings are
starting to pop up everywhere and he's at the forefront of what
has become "arguably the most exciting branch of culture."
York Times Magazine 07/09/00
SAID MET SARTRE: Edward Said met Jean Paul Sartre in 1979:
"For my generation he [Sartre] has always been one of the
great intellectual heroes of the 20th century, a man whose insight
and intellectual gifts were at the service of nearly every progressive
cause of our time. Yet he seemed neither infallible nor prophetic.
On the contrary, one admired Sartre for the efforts he made
to understand situations and, when necessary, to offer solidarity
to political causes. He was never condescending or evasive,
even if he was given to error and overstatement. Nearly everything
he wrote is interesting for its sheer audacity, its freedom
(even its freedom to be verbose) and its generosity of spirit."
London Review of Books 06/00
MAN REMAKING LONDON: Architect Norman Foster got his "gherkin"
tower approved by the City of London last week. "Foster
is a tough cookie; some of his competitors might go as far as
to say he is ruthless. None doubts his genius as a designer."
Independent (London) 07/09/00
AFOOTE: "Hollywood may forever think of Foote as the
Oscar-winning screenwriter of the original 'Tender Mercies'
and the adapted 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' but his stature within
theatrical circles has soared in his ninth decade." Los
Angeles Times 07/09/00
411 OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN LITERATURE: That E. Ethelbert Miller
is a major mover in the African American literary world is undeniable.
That he is considered by many to be an outstanding poet is indisputable.
"I can't think of an African American writer whose life
I haven't affected." So why is Howard University - his
alma mater - going out of its way to ignore him?
Zhang Yimou is revered
in the West as one of China's greatest filmmakers. But his name
is still inseparable from that of Gong Li, his partner for eight
years and the star of the cycle of six Zhang films. Most were
historical dramas with strong political undertones. Now that
the pair has split, Zhang's last two films have none of the
lush sense of historical sweep we associate with his name, and
you couldn't imagine Gong Li playing in either of them.
The Age (Melbourne)
OPERA HOPE: The hip new opera in London last season was
- of all things - a piece about soccer. Mark-Anthony Turnage,
the "Silver Tassie's" composer, "has emerged
as one of the great hopes of English classical music - a natural
extension of an extraoridnary line that runs through such fertile
counties as Elgar, Walton, Bridge, Britten and Tippitt."
REAL STRAVINSKY: For a good part of the 20th Century Igor
Stravinsky was considered the greatest composer of the era.
But "by the time of his death in 1971 the plaudits of the
mass media were out of sync with the opinions of musical tastemakers
in Europe and America; these dismissed him as a diehard reactionary
who had waited too long to acknowledge the historical inevitability
of atonality. But the tastemakers were wrong, and with the restoration
of tonality and the demise of the atonal avant-garde, Stravinsky’s
music has once again returned to the limelight."
SIDE OF BACON: Vanity
Fair is said to be publishing a story claiming that painter
Francis Bacon, who died in 1992 aged 82, was a tax dodger. The
magazine alleges that Bacon avoided paying tax in Britain by
failing to declare payments made by his dealers Marlborough
Fine Art to a Swiss bank account.
Evening Standard 07/04/00
IN FROM THE LIGHT: The art world loathes Thomas Kinkade's
precious paintings. But America's mall-goers can't buy them
fast enough and have made Kinkade a wealthy man. Reviled
by the critics and scorned by galleries and agents, his work
has been described as everything from 'pseudo' to 'a damning
indictment of our society'. Some question whether what he does
is art at all." Now Kinkade's taking his show to England.
Telegraph (London) 07/04/00
SENDS ARTIST'S CAREER SOARING: Artist Katherine Sherwood
was always an artist. But a debilitating stroke at the age of
44 transformed her career. "Critics see a huge change
in Sherwood's work. From the restricted, analytical style of
the art professor she once was, she has been transformed into
a vibrant, free-flowing painter. She has just finished a show
at New York's prestigious Whitney Museum, and her abstracts
sell for $10,000. "I have sold more paintings in the past
few months than in 25 years as an artist," she says with
a smile. The
Times (London) 07/03/00
TROUBLE: Composer Astor Piazzolla's distinctive tango music
has become a world-wide phenomenon. But "while his music
won an enthusiastic following in Europe, the United States,
Brazil, and Mexico, Piazzolla was not widely appreciated in
his native Argentina until a decade before he died in 1992.
Instead, his tampering with a native form as sacrosanct as the
tango earned an intensity of contempt from the music's old guard
that may be difficult to fathom in this country, where disagreements
over style and genre exercise only a handful of artists and
New Republic 07/03/00