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PEOPLE - November 2001

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Friday November 30

THERE GOES THE SUN: "George Harrison, the Beatles' quiet lead guitarist and spiritual explorer who added both rock 'n' roll flash and a touch of the mystic to the band's timeless magic, has died. He was 58." Hollywood Reporter (AP) 11/30/01
  • COME TOGETHER: In the years since the breakup of the Beatles, the surviving members and their families have often been something of a dysfunctional bunch. But with the death of George Harrison from throat cancer, Paul, Ringo, Yoko, et al, are united in their grief, and their respect for Harrison. BBC 11/30/01

A SEPARATE PASSING: Author John Knowles has died at the age of 75. His classic novel of wartime and adolescent conflict, A Separate Peace, has been required reading since its publication in 1959. Nando Times (AP) 11/30/01

Thursday November 29

DOMB RETURNS TO TSO: "Daniel Domb, the injured cellist involved in a legal battle with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, returns to Roy Thomson Hall tonight to play his first TSO concert in 18 months." The principal cellist is one of the most respected in North America, but the TSO management tried to have him fired after publicly doubting his claims of disability. Toronto Star 11/29/01

A JAZZ EMPIRE: Jazz impresario Norman Granz "believed in jazz as the great American art form, and insisted that its artists get the same respect as those performing classical music. A non-musician, Granz became one of the most powerful and influential figures in a genre defined by musical invention. In the '50s, it sometimes seemed the jazz world was the Granz empire because of his omnipresence as impresario, concert promoter, label head and talent manager." Washington Post 11/28/01

THE BIGGEST BLOWHARD: Call it Dork Wars, if you like. The intellectual battles between New York literary giants of the mid-20th century have become legend in an age where highbrow figures are no longer in the public eye as they once were. But of all the blustering minds the wars brought to the cultural fore, none was more disputatious, more ready for a fight, than Dwight Macdonald. A new collection of letters illustrates the point. National Post (Canada) 11/29/01

QUITE A RAU OVER SOME ART: His name is Dr. Gustave Rau, and he is the owner of one of the world's greatest privately held collections of European art. He is also quite elderly, and of dubiously sound mind, a condition which has caused his own lawyers to seek for control of the collection to be wrested from him. As it turns out, Dr. Rau, who spent a couple of decades setting up clinics in rural Africa, still has quite a bit of fight left in him. The New York Times 11/29/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday November 27

THE FIRST BILLIONAIRE AUTHOR: JK Rowling is on her way to becoming the world's first billionaire author. She's sold 124 million books, but the real money is coming from numerous merchandising deals. "Rowling received an advance of around $3000 (US) for the first story of her schoolboy wizard hero, ahead of publication in 1997. Her negotiating position has strengthened immeasurably since then." The Age (Melbourne) 11/27/01

Monday November 26

JARVI RETURNS: Conductor Neeme Jarvi returned to the podium over the weekend with his first concerts since he suffered a stroke last July. "The instant Jarvi appeared from the right stage entrance for the first time Friday night, the audience of 2,200 rose and cheered 'Bravo, maestro!' and Bravo, Neeme!' " Detroit News 11/25/01

JAZZ IMPRESARIO DIES: "Impresario Norman Granz, who set the agenda for the business of jazz through most of the 20th century by producing legendary recordings and making the music accessible to a wider audience, has died. He was 83." Los Angeles Times 11/24/01

CONDUCTOR TO WATCH: Conductor David Robertson is a conductor everyone in the music establishment seems to be watching. He was mentioned as a candidate for the Philadelphia and New York Phil top spots this year. And while he got neither, "there is a growing sense in the music world that Mr. Robertson's day is coming. Traveling the circuit throughout the year, accepting guest assignments with top orchestras like those in Chicago, Cleveland and New York, he has become an audience favorite and a reviewer's darling." The New York Times 11/26/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Sunday November 25

RICH BUT UNKNOWN: Who's the richest painter in Britain? Forget the usual suspects - it's Andrew Vicari. This year alone he sold a series of paintings to a Saudi company for $28.6 million. "Unlike his rivals in wealth, though, Vicari is practically unknown in his homeland. No matter that in China they hold loving retrospectives of his work, or that there are three museums devoted to his oeuvre in Saudi Arabia. Or that Vicari is the official painter for Interpol and the CRS, France's much-hated elite police force. No matter at all." The Age (Melbourne) 11/25/01

KEYS TO A CAREER: In a time when concert pianists have an ever-tougher time making careers, Jean-Yves Thibaudet is an "unregenerate people-person on a roll: 200 concert dates a year at international music capitals, an exclusive recording contract with Decca and a discography numbering 30-plus." Los Angeles Times 11/24/01

Wednesday November 21

DEPRIEST TO GET TRANSPLANT: James DePriest, conductor of the Oregon Symphony, will get a kidney transplant December 3. DePriest has been on dialysis for two years, and the donor "is a close, personal friend of his" who wants to remain anonymous. The Oregonian 11/21/01

Tuesday November 20

ARGERICH CANCELS: Pianist Martha Argerich has canceled all her concerts through February, on the advice of doctors. "The 60-year-old Argentine-born pianist, whose melanoma was believed to have gone into remission, had been scheduled to perform in New York, Paris and London. But those concerts have been canceled." Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 11/20/01

CURATOR JAILED: A former curator with the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum was sentenced to 15 years in jail for stealing American Indian artifacts from the museum. He took items "valued at more than $100,000, including a rare war club, beaded buckskin bag, cradle board cover, quiver and silver earrings." New Jersey Online (AP) 11/19/01

Sunday November 18

WHAT HO, WODEHOUSE? P.G. Wodehouse, creator of the wildly popular "Jeeves" stories, and a national hero of humor in the U.K., has been dead for more than a quarter of a century now, but still, clouds of controversy continue to swirl around the details of his life. The most disturbing allegations, which dogged the writer for his last thirty years, had Wodehouse betraying his country and siding with Hitler during World War II. In truth, writes his biographer, Wodehouse's relationship with the Third Reich was much more complex. The Observer (UK) 11/18/01

Thursday November 15

ART OF WINE: Robert Mondavi made millions selling wine. Now he's giving some of those millions away to the study of wine and the arts. Sacramento Bee 11/14/01

STRASBERG AT 100: Acting teacher Lee Strasberg is a legend (and still a living one). "Because of the on-camera success of so many of Strasberg's students - Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Dustin Hoffman among them - he gained a worldwide reputation as the father of modern film acting." On the other hand, "The estimable director/critic Robert Brustein once labeled Strasberg a 'highly overrated cultural icon,' and Marlon Brando wrote that it wasn't Strasberg who taught him to act but Stella Adler and Elia Kazan." Backstage 11/14/01

Wednesday November 14

LA STUPENDA AT 75: Joan Sutherland is 75, an amazing age when you consider she was still singing romantic leads until 1990. What does she think about modern opera companies? Too many "don't care about singing, are not interested in whoever wrote the opera, know nothing of the period and try and dress it out of the cheapest shops". The Age (Melbourne) 11/14/01

Sunday November 11

PRANKSTER SLEEPS: "Ken Kesey, whose LSD-fueled bus ride became a symbol of the psychedelic 1960s after he won fame as a novelist with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, died yesterday morning. He was 66." Baltimore Sun (AP) 11/11/01

ISLAND OF GLOOM: VS Naipaul just won the Nobel Prize for literature. But he's still not very happy. "Asked if he reads reviews of his books, he almost - but not quite - snickered, twitching his head in silent mirth. 'No, no, no.' So others' opinions about his work have no value? 'No, no, no'." Chicago Tribune 11/09/01

OUT OF CUBA: "Five years ago, Ibrahim Ferrer, then 68, was a retired singer who could barely scrape a living selling lottery tickets and shining shoes. Then band leader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez unexpectedly asked him to join a recording session produced by the American guitarist Ry Cooder at the Egrem studios in Havana. The session produced the almost surreally successful (six million and still selling) Buena Vista Social Club album." It's one of the most amazing turnarounds in pop music history. The Telegraph (UK) 11/10/01

IRON MAN DOMINGO: Five years ago Placido Domingo said he thought he had about five years of singing left in him. But one of the world's busiest musicians is making vocal commitments five years from now. Will he know when it's time to quit? "I have a good ear and a good sense, and my wife would tell me." The Sunday Times (UK) 11/11/01

Friday November 9

A TYPEFACE OF HIS OWN: Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler, who died in July, has been honored in a most distinctive way by his publisher, Random House of Canada, and by the Giller Prize. A new typeface has been commissioned and designed in his honor. It will be called, of course, the Richler typeface, and will be used in printing his last book, Dispatches from the Sporting Life. Random House

SONY CHAIRMAN COLLAPSES CONDUCTING CONCERT: "Norio Ohga, 71, the chairman of Sony Corporation, was conducting the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Beijing Music Festival last night when he collapsed during the performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. He is currently recuperating, in a stable condition, at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing." Gramophone 11/08/01

Thursday November 8

RIFKIN TO HIRSHHORN: "Ned Rifkin, director of the Menil Collection in Houston, will be the new head of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, sources say." It's a homecoming; Rifkin spent much of the 80s as a curator at the Hirshhorn. Washington Post 11/07/01

THE GREAT AUCTION HOUSE TRIAL: The trial against Sotheby's ex-chairman opens this week. "For the incestuous art world, where auction-house proles can grow up to be lordly dealers, the price-fixing trial has a certain Freudian tone. Alfred Taubman, the former Sotheby's chairman - and still its largest shareholder - plays the role of overbearing father, and Dede Brooks, his former protégée, is the bossy big sister. 'Of course he's guilty,' said one spectator, relishing the Lear-like scene. 'He's such a megalomaniac'." New York Magazine 11/05/01

THE ARTIST WITHIN: When he's not busy being a disctator, Saddam Hussein is an artist. "Underneath a seemingly tyrannical nature, there lives a passionate soul yearning to share his deepest, most delicate and intimate thoughts. Saddam has written a romance novel. Released earlier this year, Zabibah and the King appears to have won the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and made Saddam Hussein a best-selling novelist - according to the Iraq Press it has been selling out of Iraqi bookstores and there are already over 1,000,000 copies in print." The Weekly Standard 11/08/01

  • Previously: SADDAM ON STAGE: Zabibah and the King, a best-selling novel in Iraq, will be transformed into a big-budget stage play in Baghdad; it is rumored that a 20-part TV version of the story will be filmed as well. Saddam Hussein himself is believed to have written the original story, which is perceived as an allegory of the relationship between Iraq and the Western world. Salon 08/15/01

ARCHITECT OF ANOTHER TIME: When he died in 1974, Louis Kahn was considered by some to be America's leading architect. "Kahn used the basic tools of architecture—space, proportion, light, texture—sparely and with an almost religious reverence." But his personal life was messy and produced, on parallel tracks, three families. The New Yorker 11/12/01

ANTHONY SHAFFER, 75: Anthony Shaffer, award-winning playwright and twin brother of playwright Peter Shaffer, has died at his home in London. Anthony Shaffer's best-known work was Sleuth, which was a success in London, won a Tony on Broadway, and was nominated for two Oscars as a movie with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier. Nando Times (AP) 11/07/01

Wednesday November 7

POET CANNED: The American Academy of Poets has fired its popular executive director. "William Wadsworth, 51, a poet and former wine store owner, ran the 65-year-old organization for 12 years, during which he updated its image, increased its profile, created a popular Web site to encourage poetry reading and turned April into poetry month." But the organization has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt... The New York Times 11/07/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ADAMS PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE: John Adams has faced resistance, complaining, and outright hostility towards his music on his way to becoming one of this era's most popular and successful composers. On the heels of the Boston Symphony's cancellation, for reasons of subject matter, of Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, the composer remains convinced that audiences are more adventurous, intelligent, and willing to be challenged than they are usually given credit for. Andante 11/07/01

  • SF CRITIC - BOSTON SCREWED UP: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will now soothe you with its rendition of 'Kitten on the Keys,' performed on kazoos. It hasn't quite come to that, but it just might, given the orchestra's ridiculous decision last week to cancel performances of "Choruses From 'The Death of Klinghoffer' by Bay Area composer John Adams." San Francisco Chronicle 11/07/01

INTRODUCER TO ART: Ernst Gombrich, who died last weekend at the age of 92, was one of the most influential figures in visual art. His The Story of Art was basic history. In he "past half-century the book, which has gone through 16 editions and been translated into 32 languages since its publication in 1950, has been the chief introduction to western art for millions of people around the world." The Guardian (UK) 11/07/01

Tuesday November 6

SIR ERNST GOMBRICH, 92: The eminent art historian's "The Story of Art (1950, 16th edition 1995) has been the introduction to the visual arts for innumerable people for more than 50 years, while his major theoretical books, Art and Illusion (1960), the papers gathered in Meditations on a Hobby Horse (1963) and other volumes, have been pivotal for professional art historians. The Guardian (UK) 11/06/01

WHITHER STOCKHAUSEN? It's now been over a month since the composer's ill-timed comments calling the NYC attacks the world's greatest work of art. What has the controversy done to the cult of personality that has always surrounded the iconoclastic Stockhausen? Um, strengthened it, actually. But at what price? Andante 10/06/01

Monday November 5

MY DINNER WITH MARTHA: Martha Argerich is the day's reigning piano diva. Alex Ross meets her for dinner: "Argerich is notoriously difficult to pin down. She cancels concerts, even entire tours, at the last minute, changes programs at will, and generally drives the programming people crazy. She has become a substantial presence in New York in recent years, but only because her stardom has given her unprecedented latitude to schedule events on short notice." The New Yorker 11/05/01

THE ART OF LIGHTING: Previous winners of the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize of $250,000 for excellence in the arts include Merce Cunningham, Arthur Miller, Isabel Allende and Bob Dylan. This year's award goes to lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, who accepts on behalf of her profession: "Lighting, in many areas of the world, is not even considered an art." New York Times 11/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Sunday November 4

SPANO IN ATLANTA: Robert Spano has taken an unconventional path in his career. Now, as he takes over leading the Atlanta Symphony, some wonder how his theatrical approach will play. Los Angeles Times 11/03/01

THE TWO GEORGES: "George Rochberg tipped the world away from audience-alienating atonality, and is, in many ways, responsible for the neo-tonalists who are embraced by symphony orchestras around the world. George Crumb was a major pioneer of alternative ensembles and new ways of using old instruments, creating universes of sound, and bringing a whole new mystical element to music. Together, they developed the art of musical collage, taking disparate musical sources from pop tunes to primal cries, and showing that in art, as in life, integration and resolution aren't necessary." Now at the ends of their careers, two musical pioneers look back. Philadelphia Inquirer 11/04/01

Thursday November 1

SAYING GOODBYE: "It was Isaac Stern's last standing ovation at Carnegie Hall. After some six decades and 200 performances there, Stern was gone. And yet he wasn't. A month after his death at age 81, the man who prevented one of America's citadels of culture from being turned into an office tower was remembered Tuesday with a free concert inside the auditorium named for him." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) (AP) 11/01/01