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PEOPLE - September 2001

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Sunday September 30

THE DIFFICULT MR. STOCKHAUSEN: Did composer Karlheinz Stockhausen really tell a journalist that the attack on the World Trade Center towers was "the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos"? He says not and that he was misquoted. "Stockhausen the composer, and indeed the man, has always generated both horror and adulation. His total dedication to his work is admired and feared, his criticisms of almost every other musical genre (other than his own) are legendary, his demands that we throw away our attachments to 'the music of the past' seem like the strictures of a feared schoolmaster, and his grandiose spiritual pronouncements are often greeted with derision. And yet he is universally regarded, even by his opponents, as one of the key figures in contemporary music, and he is revered by a new generation of electronic pop and dance acts as a mentor." The Telegraph (UK) 09/29/01

  • DID HE MISS THE POINT, OR DID WE? "Stockhausen, in focusing on the formal and visual elements of the terrorist deathwork, forgot the idea that (as Bach indicated in all of his manuscripts) all art should be created for the greater glory of God — unless, of course, you have some perverted notion of what God is." Andante 09/30/01
  • HELP CREATE OR DESTROY IT? "Karlheinz Stockhausen is one of the great figures in modern comosition, a revolutionary whose shadow stretches across contemporary music in all its incarnations. Along with such avant garde goliaths as Pierre Boulez and John Cage, he embodies the iconoclastic spirit that has torn away old certainties such as melody and fixed time-signatures, and recast the fundamentals of music in the 20th century." The Guardian (UK) 09/29/01

LIVING LIFE BACKWARDS: Kenneth Tynan was the 20th Century's greatest theatre critic. But his biggest accomplishments were made by his 30s, and he was irrelevant by the time he dies. A new book examines his life. "It is, of course, gratifying for a theatre critic to discover that Tynan, undoubtedly the greatest dramatic critic of the 20th century, probably the greatest since Hazlitt, should, 21 years after his death, be one of the publishing sensations of the year." The Telegraph (UK) 09/29/01

Friday September 28

IMPERIAL SAX PLAYER: Sax-player Ornette Coleman Wins the Japanese "Praemium Imperiale" arts award. Worth $140,000, "the prestigious award was given 'under the high patronage of his Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi of Japan,' and would be presented to Coleman by former French Prime Minister Raymond Barre, who is on the board of the Japan Art Association." Culturekiosque 09/27/01

A POET LAUREATE FOR THE MASSES? America's new poet laureate, Billy Collins, is funny, dry, and accessible to a wide range of readers. He's not entirely certain that he's happy about that last one. "Being called 'accessible' is something he both fears and aspires to, comparing it to a girl endlessly labeled 'cute.'" Arizona Republic (AP) 09/27/01

UNDERSTANDING WARHOL: "The great glory of Warhol is that, even more than with Moses or Mozart, you can believe anything, and find a wealth of material to complicate your theory into a self-sustaining object of study. He is a blank-check metaphor to be spent time and again. The only trouble comes if you try to cash in, mistake hypothetical for history." Salon 09/27/01

Thursday September 27

JENS NYGAARD, 69: Jens Nygaard, founder and conductor of the Jupiter Symphony, died at his home in New York. His energetic conducting was legendary, as was his idiosyncratic programming. "I never programmed a piece I was not completely, 100-percent committed to," Mr. Nygaard said. "And I'm fortunate because I can love a Stephen Foster song, a Spohr symphony, a Caccini motet and a Beethoven symphony equally." The New York Times 09/26/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday September 26

GETTING UGLY: A Chinese website has been ordered to pay Zang Tianshuo, one of China's best-known singers, damages for voting him China's third-ugliest singer. The singer said his life had fallen apart after the poll was published last year. "The court decision fell far short of the original 950,000 yuan ($A225,000) claimed by Mr Zang, which included 200,000 yuan for 'spiritual damage'. The Age (Melbourne) 09/26/01

Tuesday September 25

POWELL PULLS OUT: Actress Linda Powell, daughter of the US Secretary of State, has pulled out of a role in London's National Theatre. "She was due to arrive here in October, but has withdrawn from the show for obvious security reasons." BBC 09/25/01

ANOTHER STERN TRIBUTE: Violinist Isaac Stern "changed the very idea of what a classical musician does. Musicians once stayed on the political sidelines, practicing scales and bringing beauty to the world. Stern was a highly effective activist, so much so that he was too often guilty of not practicing scales." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/25/01

Monday September 24

MASUR TO GET TRANSPLANT: New York Philharmonic music director Kurt Masur is cancelling weeks of performances in December so he can undergo an organ transplant. "The orchestra did not specify which organ, saying only that it was not his heart. A suitable donor is said to have been found." The New York Times 09/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

APPRECIATING ISAAC STERN, 81: "Never a particularly dazzling virtuoso, Isaac Stern was notable rather for the integrity, vigor and emotional honesty of his playing, especially in the standard works of the Classical and Romantic repertoire. In his later years, the quality of his performances often slipped, but even then he was capable of great feats of intellectual bravura and dramatic force, and many of his early recordings document his finest endeavors." San Francisco Chronicle 09/24/01

  • MORE THAN MUSIC: "He left behind three pillars of a legacy: a vast body of recordings that inspired the loyalty of audiences; an adoring circle of colleagues, who remained loyal to him throughout the years of his artistic decline; and a building, Carnegie Hall, to which he remained loyal at a time when it appeared all but certain it would fall to the wrecking ball." Washington Post 09/24/01
  • MASTER PERSUADER: "Despite his musical prowess, Stern's efforts to save New York City's Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball in 1960 remain perhaps his greatest legacy. With reasoned arguments, political savvy and boundless charisma and enthusiasm, he rallied support from musicians and audiences to save the historic hall, later becoming head of the nonprofit Carnegie Hall Corporation. In 1997 the hall's main auditorium was named for him." Boston Herald 09/24/01
  • BREAKOUT ARTIST: Stern was one of those rare artists who was passionately involved with the arts beyond his own career and chosen instrument." Chicago Sun-Times 09/24/01
  • ALL-ROUND AMBASSADOR: "What was most extraordinary was his gestalt: Packed into Stern's roly-poly frame was an innovative violinist; an indefatigable advocate for such causes as his beloved Carnegie Hall, the National Endowment for the Arts, music education and the support of Israel; and a mentor to several generations of younger musicians, including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Midori." Detroit Free Press 09/24/01

OF WOMEN AND TAXES: Pavarotti talks about his career and tax problems as his trial for tax evasion begins. "If convicted, the big man could get three years' jail and a crippling fine. Little wonder he looked uneasy – even shaken – in Modena as he denied charges that he had filed falsified tax returns between 1989 and 1995. The prosecution alleged that in some years when Pavarotti earned millions, he declared only a few thousand dollars." The Australian 09/24/01

  • CHILD'S PLAY: Pavarotti's secretary testifies she began an affair with the aging tenor three weeks after she began working for him, and describes the singer as "so unworldly" that he doesn't even know how to write a check. The Independent (UK) 09/23/01

Sunday September 23

ISAAC STERN, 81: Isaac Stern, one of the leading violinists of the mid-20th Century and one of the most powerful voices in the music world, has died. He was a foudning member of the National Endowment for the Arts and spurred the drive to save Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball. Washington Post 09/23/01

  • CLASSIC IMAGE: "The American classical music world has produced few images as characteristic as that of Mr. Stern, a violin in his hand and a pair of horn- rimmed eyeglasses perched atop his head. It was the image of a musician at work — typically rehearsing and persuading rather than performing, casual rather than formal, engaged rather than passive." The New York Times 09/23/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Thursday September 20

SORRY FOR COMMENTS: Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has apologized for comments he made comparing last week's attack on the World Trade Center to a work of art. The City of Hamburg canceled four concerts of his music this week. "Stockhausen told Hamburg officials he meant to compare the attacks to a production of the devil, Lucifer's work of art." Nando Times (AP) 09/19/01

Wednesday September 19

SAYING THE WRONG THING: Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen said in a German radio interview Monday that last week's attacks on the World Trade Center were "the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos. Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn't even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for 10 years, preparing fanatically for a concert, and then dying, just imagine what happened there." The comments didn't play well; four concerts of his music that were to have formed the thematic focus of the Hamburg Music Festival this weekend were promptly canceled. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/19/01

Monday September 17

PAVAROTTI IN COURT (AGAIN): Pavarotti goes to court to defend charges of tax evasion. "Italian prosecutors allege that Pavarotti still owes the government unpaid taxes for the period 1989 to 1995 - despite the tenor's payment of 24 billion lira in back taxes (£7.8m) in 2000." BBC 09/17/01

Sunday September 16

CRITICAL RESPONSE: Violinist and national ArtsCentre Orchestra music director Pinchas Zukerman takes criticism personally: "If I hear some really outlandish feedback from subscribers, I pick up the phone and call them. I say 'What the f--- did you mean by that?' And they go, 'Oh my God! Is that you?' And I say, 'Yeah, it's me. What do you think I should be doing here?' And usually they say, 'I didn't mean it like that' or 'I was misunderstood'." Saturday Night (Canada) 09/15/01

RETURNING OSCAR: Actor Kevin Spacey was the anonymous buyer who paid $150,000 for an Academy Award up for auction. He'll return it to the Academy. ''I strongly feel that Academy Awards should belong to those who have earned them - not those who simply have the financial means to acquire them.'' Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 09/15/01

Friday September 14

ART, DEATH AND TAXES: At the time he died in 1992, Sydney Nolan was Australia's best-known artist. "Nolan was knighted in 1981, but a decade later, despite his fame, his prolific output and success at marketing his work for more than 50 years, he owed the British tax office a considerable sum. The subsequent death duties are believed to have increased the amount to more than $3 million." Now the remaining 95 paintings in his estate are to be auctioned to pay taxes. The Age (Melbourne) 09/14/01

ANOTHER MAJOR AWARD FOR ARTHUR MILLER: American playwright Arthur Miller "is among five recipients of the Japan Art Association's 2001 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award, which is intended to honor lifetime achievement in categories not covered by the Nobel Prizes." With all his prizes and honors, Miller, at 85, might seem like a man who has figured things out. He says not. "I don't have any big answers offhand," he insists. "I struggle with everything, just like everyone else does." USAToday 09/14/01

CRITICISM FOR TOO MUCH AND TOO GOOD: Joyce Carol Oates has just published her 94th book. "Her recent Oprah pick, We Were the Mulvaneys, was the author’s first No. 1 best seller and has sold 10 times more than any other book she’s written." Yet she's criticized by some for her prolific output. Newsweek 09/17/01

Wednesday September 12

PINNING DOWN WILDE: Oscar Wilde's wide-ranging body of work has always defied attempts to pigeonhole the author's legacy. Last year, the British Library presented an exhibition that attempted to capture the many faces of Wilde through manuscripts, letters, and critiques. A somewhat-revised version of "Oscar Wilde: A Life in Six Acts" is scheduled to open in New York this weekend. The New York Times 09/12/01 (one-time registration required for access)

CONLON LEAVING PARIS: "James Conlon, chief conductor of the Paris Opera since 1995, said he will leave his job at the end of his contract in July 2004." Andante (AP) 09/12/01

Tuesday September 11

MISSING DIGERIDOO-ER: Australia's most famous digeridoo player is missing. Is he dead? "His community has become caught up in a supernatural rumour mill and both black and white spiritualists claim to be in contact with him. David Blanasi is said to have wandered off to collect wood to make digeridoos on August 6." Despite an extensive search, he's still missing. The Australian 09/11/01

Monday September 10

THE ANONYMOUS CHAMPION: Bobby Fischer won the world chess title 30 years ago, then disappeared into obscurity. Now, a grandmaster believes Fischer is playing chess anonymously on the internet. "Nigel Short, Britain's most celebrated grandmaster of chess, is convinced he has played 50 speed games of chess against Mr. Fischer through the Internet Chess Club, a service that allows players worldwide to play each other online." National Post (Canada) 09/10/01

Sunday September 9

INSIDE FROM THE OUTSIDE (OR THE OTHER WAY 'ROUND): Writer VS Naipaul, 69, has "always sought to position himself as a lone, stateless observer, devoid of ideology or affiliation, peers or rivals - a truth-teller without illusion. As Edward Said says, 'He's thought of as a witness against the postcolonial world because he's one of "them"; that there's an intimacy with which he can tell the truth about their pretensions, lies, delusions, ideologies, follies.' Yet how convincing are these claims? And how far does the writer's vision transcend the prejudices of the man?" The Guardian (UK) 09/08/01

Friday September 7

A FALLING GIANT: Last year at the first Latin Grammys, producer Emilio Estefan was named Person of the Year. "Such has been Estefan's impact on the industry that admirers and detractors alike ascribe him almost supernatural power." But this year his top artists are pulling out of his company, and the 2001 Latin Grammys, set to be held in Miami, his home town, pulled out at the last minute. Miami New Times 09/06/01

Tuesday September 4

PAULINE KAEL, 82: Film critic Pauline Kael has died at the age of 82. "Kael was probably the most influential film critic of her time. She reviewed movies for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1979, and again, after working briefly in the film industry, from 1980 until 1991. Earlier, she was a film critic for Life magazine in 1965, for McCall's in 1965 and 1966 and for The New Republic in 1966 and 1967." The New York Times 09/04/01 (one-time registration required for access)