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PEOPLE - July 2001

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Tuesday July 31

PORTRAIT OF THE YOUNG COMPOSER: Stuart MacRae is only 24, but his career as a composer is thriving. But 'when you have been touted as the next big thing in British classical music, the weight of expectation becomes almost impossible to bear." The Guardian (UK) 07/31/01

DUBUFFET AT 100: Americans are generally protective of their beliefs and priorities, and react badly against those who challenge them. So it is difficult to explain the success in the U.S. of an artist like the Frenchman Jean Dubuffet, who would have turned 100 this week. Dubuffet's art was/is beloved by U.S. collectors, and the devotion to his work is so great that his fans seem inclined to overlook the artist's frequent calls for the destruction of the American artistic canons. Chicago Tribune 07/31/01

BOWING OUT GRACEFULLY: It is never easy for a dancer to retire. Unlike performers in nearly every other discipline, dancers are forced to hang up their toe shoes when their bodies give out on them, usually sometime in their late 30s. For some, being told that it's time to go is an unbearable insult, and the occasional ugly battle between dancer and dance company results. But one Canadian dance legend decided to take the quiet route to retirement this year, earning her even greater affection from colleagues and audiences alike. National Post (Canada) 07/31/01

STILL GOING STRONG: "Agatha Christie's name is synonymous with the arsenic-and-old-lace school of whodunits. Modern mystery writers rarely praise her or cite her work as an influence. She is not as writerly as Dorothy Sayers or Robert Goddard, and her plots - often unfairly lumped together - seem to boil down to 'Colonel Mustard with a candlestick in the drawing room.' But in Great Britain she remains the best-selling writer of all time, save for one William Shakespeare and God Herself, author of the Bible." Boston Globe 07/31/01

Sunday July 29

MY IN-CREDIBLE LIFE: Tristan Foison listed an amazing resume when he moved to Atlanta in 1987: "winner of the 1987 Prix de Rome, first Prize in the Leningrad Conducting Competition, 1989; First Prize in the Prague Conducting Competition, 1985; First Prize in the Busoni Piano Competition, 1980..." Trouble is, none of it was true, and when he plagiarized note for note a piece he "composed" for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in May... Atlanta Journal-Constitrution 07/29/01

PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG CURATOR: Frederick Ilchman doesn't believe in cappucinos after the breakfast hour, insists his martinis be shaken, and likes to help women navigate the bridges of Venice. He's the new assistant curator of Renaissance art at Boston's Museum of Fine Art, and he seems to have come from a different time. Boston Globe 07/29/01

QUESTIONS OF GREATNESS: Conductor Riccardo Muti is 60 this year, a milestone at which great conductors are supposed to be arching to greatness (if they're ever going to). Is Muti that great conductor? The mixed evidence suggests... Philadelphia Inquirer 07/29/01

Friday July 27

FUTURE UNCERTAIN FOR JÄRVI AND DSO: Neeme Järvi's recent illness was in fact a stroke, according to family members. The music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was stricken at a music festival in Estonia; he now is recuperating at a hospital in Helsinki, Norway. It still is unknown - and perhaps unknowable - whether he will be able to return to the DSO and his career. Detroit News 07/25/01

REYNOLDS PRICE, ON EUDORA WELTY: "Her main pleasure toward the end was the company of her friends. Surprisingly, for one whose work is so marked by the keen double knife-edge of satire and remorseless honesty, she was treated as the genial and polite Honorary Maiden Aunt of American letters. No other maiden aunt in history can have been, in her heart, less a maiden and less like the greeting-card aunt of one's dreams. To almost the end, Eudora Welty was both a fierce observer of the wide world around her and its loving consumer." The New York Times 07/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE CHIEF LEGAL COUNSEL DONE GONE: As chief legal counsel for CNN, Eve Burton joined The New York Times and Dow Jones filing a brief in support of a recent Houghton Mifflin book, The Wind Done Gone. However, AOL-TimeWarner, which owns CNN, has come out in opposition to publication of the book. Eve Burton is now the former chief legal counsel for CNN, and the network's staffers aren't happy about it. The New York Times 07/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

DEPRESSION CAN BE, WELL, DEPRESSING: Being published to high critical praise and still being unknown might affect your outlook, as seems to be the case with novelist Hugh Nissenson, who has battled severe depression throughout his career. His latest work is a tale of an artist who has had his destiny forced upon him by a world that confuses technology with humanity. The New York Times 07/26/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday July 25

DOWNFALL OF A PATRON: What happened to Shanghai's best-known arts patron? He's in jail, and it looks like he'll be there a long time. "Though little is known about the charges against him, Bonko Chan, 37, is known for spending lavishly on financing operas, buying oil paintings and offering rides in his corporate jet, activities that gave him an unusually high profile in a town where circumspection is the norm." The New York Times 07/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)

RIPPING OFF THE ORCHESTRA: The director of the Honk Kong Sinfonietta has been arrested and charged with stealing $6.2 million from the orchestra. Police allege that between 1993 and 1999, Henry Yu "issued a number of cheques totalling $6.2 million, under the name of the orchestra, to himself, his wife and daughter, and the money was deposited into their personal bank accounts." Hong Kong Mail 07/25/01

CALDER ON THE MOVE: "Elaine Calder is leaving her position as managing director of Hartford Stage to return to her native Canada, where she has accepted a position as president and chief executive officer of the Francis Winspear Centre for Music and its resident orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony in Alberta." Hartford Courant 07/25/01

Tuesday July 24

EUDORA WELTY, 92: "She was one of the finest Southern writers of the 20th century. She could be as obscure as William Faulkner. As violent as Flannery O'Connor. As incisive as Richard Wright. But more genteel and straightforward than just about anyone. And at 92 she outlived them all." Washington Post 07/24/01

Monday July 23

MENAGE A TROIS ANYONE? A new film is about to reveal the wild bohemian lives of some of Australia's most prominent artists. "The movie, When We Were Young, will centre on the six years from 1942 which are billed as the start of the modern art movement in Australia." Sydney Morning Herald 07/23/01

Sunday July 22

PORTRAIT OF AN (AMERICAN) CONDUCTOR: Robert Spano is considered by some to be the leading conductor of his generation. His innovative programming of the Brooklyn Philharmonic is widely admired, and he's begun recording with his new orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony. Boston Globe 07/22/01

THE MAN WHO REMADE SALZBURG: "There are those who discount the importance of arts administrators, preferring (rightly, perhaps, in the greater scheme of things) to concentrate on creators and recreators, also known as performers." But Gerard Mortier's leadership of the Salzburg Festival shows how an institutions can be remade by one person with a vision. The New York Times 07/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Friday July 20

BEN BRITTEN REMEMBERED: Twenty-five years after Britten's death a colleague and friend remember England's greatest 20th Century composer. The Guardian (UK) 07/20/01

ARCHER CONVICTED: Best-selling novelist and aspiring politician Jeffrey Archer has been convicted of perjury in London, and sentenced to four years in prison. The Clintonesque scandal has come as little surprise to observors in the U.K., where Archer had become something of a national joke for his tendency to self-destruct just as true power seemed within his grasp. The Times of London 07/20/01

SO THERE'S THIS KID IN MONTREAL, and she's playing the bagpipes out on the city streets, when some cop with nothing better to do collars her and invokes some law about street musicians needing permits, and permit applicants needing to be at least 14 years old. (The kid is 11.) Tough break, but a couple news stories later, the kid has the last laugh: she opened for mock rock legends Spinal Tap at a festival on Wednesday. Ottawa Citizen (CP) 07/20/01

Thursday July 19

ATTACKING BARENBOIM: Conductor Daniel Barenboim has long reigned supreme musically in Germany, where he heads the Berlin Staatsoper. But since he conducted Wagner in Israel earlier this month, a debate about his role in German musical life has been underway. Chicago Tribune 07/19/01

Wednesday July 18

DOING THE DIVA: Divas are a proud tradition in America. But in London? "Can one really be a diva in Britain, a country that privileges self-effacement at the expense of naked ambition?" A number of female stars are descending on London stages eager to test divadom. The Times (UK) 07/18/01

Tuesday July 17

ESCAPING MOTHER? NO, SMUGGLING ARMS: In 1866, James McNeil Whistler sailed from Britain to South America. The conventional story is that he wanted a break from his mother, who had come to live with him (and with his model). Seems that wasn't it at all. Jimmy was running munitions to Chile, to be used against Spain. Chicago Sun-Times 07/17/01

HITTING RAY BRADBURY AT 81: "Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury seems more a one-man film factory than a retiree. Set to go before the cameras are The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Sound of Thunder, The Illustrated Man, and Frost of Fire." Nando Times 07/17/01

Monday July 16

THE TALE OF TINA AND HARRY: It's not long ago that Tina Brown and Harry Evans were the power literary couple in New York, she running The New Yorker, he steering the fates of Random House. A new book that hit bookshelves this weekend chronicles the couple's rise to power: "they emerge from the book as a couple so consumed by the naked ambition of the American arriviste, and so willing to consume others as fuel for their flight, that their crash from the heights of the sun became inevitable." National Post (Canada) 07/16/01

  • POWER MAP: "What the book outlines is a Horatio Alger story of get-up-and-go, shoulder-to-the-wheel, how-to-do-what-you've-got-to-do-to-get-ahead-in-the-media-business savvy. I'd recommend it to anyone who is starting out. It's a fine manual." New York Magazine 07/16/01

Sunday July 15

AN AMERICAN IN LONDON: American conductor Leonard Slatkin is taking on that most British of institutions, the summer Proms concerts. But is he too American for the job? Too conservative? The Guardian (UK) 07/14/01

Thursday July 12

JÄRVI MAY MISS DSO TOUR: Detroit Symphony music director Neeme Järvi "must remain hospitalized at least two more weeks, his doctor said Wednesday, and the conductor's wife said his illness may prevent him from going on tour with the Gothenburg (Sweden) Symphony early next month. Jarvi, 64, remains in intensive care." Detroit News 07/12/01

Wednesday July 11

JÄRVI HOSPITALIZED: Conductor Neeme Järvi has been hospitalized. "The 64-year-old musical director of the Detroit Symphony was taken to the hospital Monday from his hotel in Pärnu, Estonia, 75 miles south of the capital, where he was attending a classical music festival. Media reports said he apparently had a stroke." Andante (AP) 07/10/01

A SMALL INVESTIGATION: Controversial Smithsonian chief Lawrence Small has made a lot of enemies. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened an investigation into the private collection of Amazonian tribal art owned by Small. Washington Post 07/10/01

Tuesday July 10

LAWRENCE SMALL IN THE HOT SEAT. AGAIN: Actually, that seems to be his native habitat. The recently-installed and constantly-embattled head of the Smithsonian has antagonized much of his staff - and some political figures - with his management style. Now, "the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened an investigation into [his] private collection of Amazonian tribal art." Washington Post 07/10/01

Monday July 9

THE BOOK ON CALLAS: "The fallen grandeur of Maria Callas has fuelled quite an industry since her death in 1977, aged just 53; and it wasn't doing too badly when she was alive. Mystique, though, is no friend to scholarship. Living legends make bad history. And with bad history already running riot in at least 30 books devoted to the diva, I am not sure that this one takes us any closer to the truth." The Telegraph (UK) 07/09/01

MENOTTI AT 90: One of the 20th century's most successful composers celebrated his 90th birthday in style yesterday. Gian Carlo Menotti, who won Pulitzer Prizes for his operas and founded both the Italian and American versions of the Spoleto Festival, was feted in Italy by a gathering of some of the music world's biggest stars. BBC 07/09/01

FIRE, BATONS, AND BRIMSTONE: The conductor who brought alternate doses of success and controversy to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is jumping across Western Canada to Vancouver. Bramwell Tovey put the WSO on the map during a 12-year tenure during which he helped create one of the world's most successful new music festivals, but sparred endlessly with the Manitoba Arts Council and local critics. He insists, however, that such an outspoken style may not be necessary in his new home, saying, "I'm not the political hot potato I once was." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 07/09/01

Sunday July 8

STAYING POWER: The 20th century was a period of intense upheaval in the music world - composers' stars rose and fell with astonishing speed as new methods of composition came into vogue and then quickly fell out of favor. Philip Glass, who came to prominence in the 1960s as the leader of the new "Minimalist" movement, should, by all rights, have been just another flash in the pan. But where others stagnated, Glass constantly adapted, and his music continues to be some of the most often heard (and appreciated) of any contemporary composer. The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

REDEEMING THE SCAPEGOAT: Few prominent composers have ever inspired as much hatred in audiences as the father of twelve-tone music, Arnold Schönberg. Even today, a Schönberg listing on a concert program is nearly guaranteed to draw a smaller crowd than might attend otherwise. But there was much more to Schönberg than the dense atonality he has become known for, and, thanks to the efforts of persistent musicians, his works may finally be gaining acceptance with the concertgoing public. The Telegraph (London) 07/07/01

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Ruth Crawford Seeger was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. An atonalist and liberal activist in the fledgling days of the labor movement, the Chicago composer was stonewalled at every turn of her career, and the result was a tragically sparse output from a woman who might have become one of the century's greatest composers. The Guardian (UK) 07/07/01

AND HE WANTED THIS JOB? "The backstage drama at the Bolshoi saw the arrival this week of a young musical director whose mission is to drag the theatre out of the crisis that has shattered its reputation. . . A traumatic season has already seen the brutal dismissal of one of his predecessors and the enraged resignation of another. Now Alexander Vedernikov has the job of restoring the pride of Russia's most famous institution in the performing arts." The Guardian 07/06/01

Thursday July 5

REMEMBERING MORDECHAI: Mordechai Richler's books were selling briskly Wednesday as Canadians remembered one of the country's best-known writers. "He gives you a nostalgic feeling of the good old days when immigrants were building up the city, building up the country." Ottawa Citizen (CP) 07/04/01

  • IN HIS OWN WORDS: Mordecai Richler's last column for a Canadian newspaper shows much of his trademark wit and self-deprecating attitude towards his chosen profession. National Post 07/05/01

LOFTI GOODBYE: San Francisco Opera honors retiring director Lofti Mansouri. "His old friend and colleague Frederica von Stade was on hand to present Mansouri with the company's highest honor, the Opera Medal, roughly equivalent to the Medal of Honor in the world of the San Francisco Opera." SFGate 07/04/01

  • MANSOURI LEAVES SF: Lofti Mansouri says goodbye to San Francisco Opera, retiring after 14 years with the company. The inventor of supertitles back in 1983, Mansouri says he's most proud of "the work I have done to spread the notion that opera is for everyone." Opera News 07/01

LEGENDS DON'T WALK, APPARENTLY: Promoters are forever grumbling about the unusual requirements some star performers include in their contract riders - exotic foods, cases upon cases of expensive mineral water, etc. - but the folks organizing Luciano Pavarotti's concert in London's Hyde Park later this month may have more reason than most to grumble. Among other demands from the legendary tenor is the unprecedented requirement that he "and his limo will be transported to the stage by an industrial jack." New York Post 07/05/01

Wednesday July 4

MORDECHAI RICHLER, 70: Mordechai Richler, one of Canada's best-known writers, has died of cancer. "The Quebec author of 10 novels is best known for his works on Montreal Jewish life." Ottawa Citizen (CP) 07/03/01

FRIDA-MANIA: Overshadowed by her husband - famous muralist Diego Rivera - during her lifetime, Frida Kahlo is now a global cult figure. The feisty woman with the striking stare and tempestuous love-life has inspired ballets, operas, books, biography, films and plays. Dozens, if not hundreds, of websites pay homage. A religion, Kahloism, worships her as the one, true god. Kahlomania is about to hit Australia. The Age (Melbourne) 07/04/01

MISTER ROGERS' CYBERHOOD: After 33 years, Fred Rogers has taped his last TV shows. But he isn't retiring, just moving to a new venue - the Internet. He's developing an interactive program for the PBS website, and children's stories for his own site. Newsday (AP) 07/04/01

Tuesday July 3

CREEPY BOB, THE TAMBOURINE MAN: Bob Dylan's 60th birthday has come and gone, but the encomiums keep on coming. So do the brickbats. In the course of reviewing a couple Dylan biographies, John Leonard goes heavy on the brickbats. "Because Joan Baez loved him a lot, I have to assume that he is not as much of a creep as he so often seems. But I’m entitled to doubts about anybody whose favorite Beatle was George." New York Review of Books 07/19/01

Sunday July 1

THE CERTIFIED GUITAR PLAYER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: Legendary guitarist Chet Atkins, who rose to fame as one of the architects of the Nashville Sound, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 77. BBC 07/01/01

THE BIONIC FIDDLER: "Although born without a right hand, 17-year-old Adrian Anantawan seems poised for a very real career as a violinist. He's headed this fall to the Curtis Institute of Music, arguably the world's most selective and prestigious music conservatory." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/01/01

BROADWAY HAT TRICK: Remember the name, because director John Rando is about to do something that few others have even attempted - have three of his productions running on Broadway at one time. "He may not have the credentials of proven English hitmakers like Nicholas Hytner ("Miss Saigon") or Trevor Nunn ("Les Misérables"), but Mr. Rando is on his way." The New York Times 07/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)