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JULY 2001

Tuesday July 31

GETTING KIDS INVOLVED: Classical music hasn't been cool some time now. A night at the symphony might seem like a good way to impress a date with one's sophistication, but other than that, most of the younger generation has little interest in Beethoven and Mozart. But is it possible that the blame lies not with kids, but with those of us who continue to try to force our same musical tastes on our children? Is it possible that avant-gardists like Philip Glass and Steve Reich have more to say to today's youth than Brahms or Strauss? Boston Herald 07/27/01

BILLIONAIRE VS. BILLIONAIRE: Talks have begun between the recording industry and the major media companies over who will reap what percentage of the revenues once widespread online streaming of music is a reality. Participating in the catfight are such heavies as AOL Time Warner, Clear Channel Communications, and the Recording Industry Association of America. At issue is how much of a royalty record companies will receive each time their recordings are streamed. BBC 07/31/01

RUNNING THE VERDI MARATHON: "The Metropolitan Opera never tried it. London's Royal Opera scrapped its attempt. Of all the celebrations marking 100 years since Giuseppe Verdi died, only Vincent La Selva's tiny New York Grand Opera has performed all 28 Verdi operas, from "Oberto" to "Falstaff" and every note in between. La Selva began the cycle on July 6, 1994, and proceeded in chronological order. Barring rain, it will end Wednesday night. Like the others, "Falstaff" will be presented free, at Central Park's SummerStage, where overflow crowds of about 12,000 attended "Aida" and "Otello" earlier this summer." Nando Times (AP) 07/31/01

YO! MTV SUCKS! "On the eve of the network's 20th anniversary celebration tomorrow night, it seems appropriate to point out that the only segments of mankind that have benefited from the creation of MTV are the corporation that owns it and the music-industry lowlifes with which it does business." New York Post 07/31/01

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

Monday July 30

BUYING AMERICAN: Six major British orchestras are now being led by American conductors. Why? "The answer, according to the orchestras and the Americans themselves, is that while continental, and particularly German, band leaders like to remain aloof and concentrate purely on their music, the Americans are prepared to muck in and get their hands dirty on the commercial side of the business." The Guardian (UK) 07/30/01

THE SKY ISN'T FALLING: On first glance, classical music recording may seem to be struggling. But the news isn't nearly so bleak as some suggest. Anmd there are some encouraging signs that the business of recording may be evolving in positive ways. Andante.com 07/30/01

DIGITAL DISASTER: "The recording industry is asking consumers to try out a whole new concept of music ownership. Through the services now in the works, most popular music wouldn't be owned at all. Rather, songs would be rented by the month. Consumers would pay a monthly flat fee for access to a predetermined number of songs. Once they stop paying the fee, the downloaded files stop working. It's hard to see how this scheme will add up. The average consumer spends about $90 a year for six CDs and gets to keep them forever. The new subscription services will ask consumers to pay about $120 a year - and come away with nothing." Industry Standard 08/06/01

  • INTO THE ARMS OF ANOTHER: The recording industry might have shut down Napster. But without offering an immediate online alternative, the industry has driven music fans to other free services. Will they ever win them back? Industry Standard 08/06/01

Sunday July 29

THE ROSENBERG GAMBIT: Pamela Rosenberg is taking over as director of San Francisco Opera, and, if successful, her plans are sure to shake up the opera world. "Blending the classic with the contemporary, and adding new vocal blood and a kind of stage direction seldom seen in America, Ms. Rosenberg is certainly taking a risk — in the healthiest, most promising sense. If even a portion of the undertaking succeeds, she may be able to convince us that opera is a living art form after all." The New York Times 07/29/01 (one-time registration required for access)

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

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

MTV AT 20: "The enormously popular channel, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Wednesday, is so big, so powerful, that its reach can hardly be overstated. As the number-one cable outlet aimed at consumers aged 12 to 24, it's an essential buy for advertisers trying to coax dollars from teenage pockets. Its quick-cut visuals have changed how films are shot. And its relentless celebration of disaffected youth has spawned an advertising approach that might be called selling by slouching." Philadelphia Inquirer 07/29/01

  • DAMNABLE MTV: So MTV is 20 years old. "Generally lost in the self-congratulatory cacophony marking the cable music station's two-decade anniversary is the hard-to-dispute dissenting notion that holds that no other force in the 50-year history of rock has had such an insidious effect on the music. Chicago Sun-Times 07/29/0
  • REDEFINITION: "Over the span of two decades, MTV manhandled the musical spotlight, not only swiveling it away from the aural experience and shining it on the visual, but taking music previously available to only the most cosmopolitan cities and offering it up to the most backwater of towns. And it made stars of artists who were savvy enough to take advantage of it. It is not an understatement to say that MTV, in its 20 years, has changed the experience of music forevermore." San Jose Mercury News 07/29/01

Friday July 27

BEST SONG OF THE CENTURY (THE LAST ONE, THAT IS): According to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America, it was Judy Garland's Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a decision stoutly defended by Rob Kapilow on NPR's Morning Edition. According to Time and Dick Clark, however, it may have been You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', by the Righteous Brothers. NPR & Boston Herald 07/26/01

THE JUDGE WHO TALKED TOO MUCH: A record company exec paid £200 to register one of his label's jazz groups for the Mercury Music Prize. Then the chief judge for the competition said on BBC radio that major label jazz had "become another sort of easy listening music. Those records are not the sort that are going to grab Mercury prize judges' attention." Now the exec wants his money back. BBC 07/26/01

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

  • Previously: 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

THE PROMENADE KING AS SERIOUS MUSICIAN: British conductor Malcolm Sargent was known as "Flash Harry," which said more about his personal life than about his professional skills. "It is the public figure, however, that merits this striking retrieval... not only in terms of Sargent's renowned abilities as a choral and orchestral conductor of enormous drive and popularity, but also with regard to his special relationship with contemporary composers including Walton and Sibelius." The Irish Times 07/25/01

REALNETWORKS CUTS BACK: RealNetworks, whose Real Player is probably the most widely-used streaming audio software on the Internet, is laying off 15 percent of its work force. For the second quarter of this year, the company reported a loss of just over $19 million. During the Internet boom of a couple years ago, a loss that small would have looked like a profit. Nando Times 07/26/01

Thursday July 26

BETTER MANAGEMENT THROUGH ORCHESTRA: Conductor Roger Nierenberg has developed a program that "uses orchestral teamwork as a guiding principle for corporations." Using conducting and performance as a physical demonstration, "most of the demonstration is designed to show how orchestra members function as a team — with and without leadership." The New York Times 07/26/01 (one-time registration required for access)

PITTSBURGH EVALUATING DISAPPOINTING TOUR: "The wild ride that was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's 2001 South American tour came to an uneventful conclusion Monday morning. Thankfully. [N]early everyone had an opinion about this one, which was called "among the worst" by more than a few musicians. . . Wherever the blame is laid for this tour, everyone believes that management and musicians need to talk about the ramifications of the tour in the coming months to address the issues and to keep morale from slipping." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07/26/01

MEHTA BACKS BARENBOIM: "The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's music director, Zubin Mehta, has vowed to challenge a call to ban fellow conductor Daniel Barenboim from performing in Israel after Barenboim violated an unofficial ban on the music of Richard Wagner." Boston Herald 07/26/01

CRASHING THE SENATE: The U.S. Senate was all set for another of their famous hearings on the way that popular music and, specifically, hip-hop are destroying the moral fabric of the nation, staining the minds of our children, and just generally leading the entire country down the road to ruin. (And it's not even an election year!) But the sanctimony took a distinct dive once an actual, uninvited purveyor of rap music showed up to speak. Nando Times (AP) 07/25/01

EMINEM IN AUSTRALIA: Bad-boy rapper Eminem has come to Australia. Over the past few months, Australians have been debating his appearance and whether he should be allowed in to the country to perform. His visa wasn't granted until last week. The Age (Melbourne) 07/26/01

  • SLOW TICKETS: Eminem's Australian promoter blames "the Australian government's delay in permitting Eminem a visa on the slow ticket sales to his concerts." Sydney Morning Herald 07/26/01

PUT A METER ON THAT JUKEBOX: "The US is set to compensate European songwriters and composers for millions of pounds worth of lost revenue. The musicians have won their fight against a US law which let bars and grills avoid paying royalties for playing their music on TV or radio. Music groups have estimated royalty losses at $27m a year. " BBC 07/26/01

Wednesday July 25

THE REVOLUTION WILL BE BROADCAST: "With the signing of a deal with the operators of andante.com, all of the Philadelphia Orchestra's concerts in its new $265 million home next season will be available - for a fee - with the click of a mouse, the orchestra and its new Web host are to announce today. . . Also signing with Andante as 'founding artistic partners' are the Vienna Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra, whose concerts also will be made available via the Internet. Kreisberger said partnerships with the Salzburg Festival, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, and La Scala were expected shortly, and that talks were under way with the orchestras of New York, Chicago and Cleveland. " Philadelphia Inquirer 07/25/01

BARENBOIM BAN: An Israeli parliamentary committee has called for a ban on conductor Daniel Barenboim for his performance of Wagner in Israel. Barenboim had promised he would not perform the composer's music there. "The education and culture committee of Israel's parliament said on Tuesday that Israeli cultural institutions should shun Barenboim until he apologises." BBC 07/25/01

CBSO BAILED OUT: "One of Britain’s most important ensembles – the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) – has been saved from financial collapse by an Arts Council award of almost £2.5m. The CBSO – which rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s under the dynamic leadership of Sir Simon Rattle – has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for three years. The Arts Council award of £2,465,000 follows an earlier interim award of £494,000." Gramophone 07/25/01

SONGWRITERS GETTING LEFT BEHIND: Lost in the debate over compensation for musicians whose work is distributed online has been the plight of the folks who create the songs to begin with. Songwriters, who have always had a tough time getting proper compensation for their efforts, are worried that they're being ignored by both performers and the online music industry. Wired 07/25/01

Tuesday July 24

SOME REGRETS: One music critic reckons that despite all the music world's advances of the past 50 years, it was still a lousy time to be a critic. "I hesitate to tot up how many hundreds of hours of my life have been wasted in half-empty concert halls reviewing convoluted nonsense — dry, charmless, bereft of emotion, drama and buzz — that has mostly never been heard since. Why did I sit there? Because, like most critics, I felt duty-bound to 'give new music a fair chance'." The Times (UK) 07/24/01

SOME REASONS WHY: This summer's London season of the Kirov Opera was quite as bad as last summer's residency was triumphant. Artistic director Valery Gergiev goes looking for some reasons why things went so wrong. The Guardian (UK) 07/24/01

  • SPIN CONTROL: "Simply that Mr. Gergiev took on too much. Over a 13-day period, with only one night off, the Kirov presented two performances each of five challenging operas. What other company — even the Metropolitan under Mr. Gergiev's workaholic soul mate James Levine — would have attempted such an insanely ambitious schedule?" The New York Times 07/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

EVERYONE'S RICH EXCEPT THE ARTISTS: "The music industry is based on the strange idea that the artist pays for everything but owns nothing. As a result most bands spend their career heavily in debt to their label. Record labels have been able to treat musicians badly because they were the only way a musician could make records and find an audience. But the arrival of cheap, quality recording equipment and the internet has now given the artist a number of different options." The Guardian (UK) 07/24/01

POP GOES THE BAND BOOM: Is the teen pop boom busting? After disappointing sales by some of the genre's biggest stars, a number of entertainment publications have raised the question. But "critics never liked teen pop to begin with." And the bands are still selling millions of cd's a week. This is a bust? New York Post 07/24/01

DOWNLOADING ALTERNATIVES: Napster's been shut down, but even when it resumes business, will downloaders return? "With over 300 alternatives that allow people to download music for free, most users won't have a difficult time leaving Napster behind for the greener pastures of free music. Napster's chief rivals - Kazaa, Bearshare, Audiogalaxy and iMesh – have seen significant upswings in their traffic." Wired 07/24/01

Monday July 23

ONLINE MUSIC: Online music sales are expected to soar from $1 billion this year to $6.2 billion in 2006; 30% of these US online music sales will come from digital downloads and music subscriptions. BBC 07/23/01

ON SECOND THOUGHT: "It's no small irony that when the digital music revolution began, technology companies extolled the fact that middlemen (record stores and record labels, for instance) would be removed from the distribution process, thus lowering prices for consumers. Now those very same companies are looking to become middlemen in hopes of building a better business model." Wired 07/23/01

Sunday July 22

THE MUSIC VIDEO REVOLUTION: Next week MTV turns 20 years old. It might have been an inauspicious start, but "nowhere has MTV caused a greater seismic shift than in the music business. Originally dismissed by many record company executives as gimmicky, it has become, perhaps, the most essential tool in marketing artists." Boston Globe 07/22/01

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

LOVEFEST FOR BARENBOIM: Conductor Daniel Barenboim returned to Chicago for his first appearance since his controversial Israeli concert that included a Wagner encore. It was a lovefest... Chicago Sun-Times 07/22/01

DEATH OF A UTOPIA: Iannis Zenakis died last February, but the composer who once was as famous as architect Le Corbusier, had long been passed by. "Indeed, everything that Xenakis stood for - a utopian musical art that sought to refashion the way we heard - died well before Xenakis did. He was a Greek composer who lived in France, but the abandonment of his ideals is also an American tragedy." Washington Post 07/22/01

FALLEN STAR: Last summer, Russia's Kirov Opera thrilled London's music crowd with exciting performances. That's why this summer's return visit was highly anticipated. Alas, the company's performances of Verdi operas have been a big bust. Sunday Times (UK) 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)

MISTAKENLY MOZART: Nopthing wrong with a Mozart festival. But the San Francisco Symphony's recently concluded version was "perhaps the most cynical project any serious local musical organization has sold to culture consumers in years." San Francisco Chronicle 07/22/01

Friday July 20

CLEVELAND DOES PIANO: Sixty pianists from 24 countries have come to Cleveland for the Cleveland Piano Competition. "The competitors, all between the ages of 17 and 32, will vie for over $50,000 in prize money, a CD recording, two years of professional management, and a series of concert engagements including a New York debut." Gramophone 07/19/01

AN AMERICAN KICKS OFF THE PROMS: The BBC Proms get underway tonight in London with a new fanfare commissioned by the festival to welcome its newest head man, American conductor Leonard Slatkin. Slatkin recently took over the BBC Symphony, the first American to hold the position. BBC 07/20/01

  • TWIN THEMES FOR THE PROMS: The 73 concerts of this year's Proms are structured around the contrasting themes of pastoral leisure and composer exile. BBC 07/19/01

PRO CORO BACK FROM THE BRINK: Pro Coro Canada, one of only three professional choirs in the country, was near to shutting down earlier this year due to financial difficulties. "To the company's relief all three levels of government have come to Pro Coro's aid. The grants will enable the choir to pay all its bills by the end of the coming season." CBC 07/19/01

A BIT OF BRITNEY WITH YOUR SOCKS? Most recordings stores are loud and masculine. "HMV and Virgin tell us they are happy with that because their core customer is 18-24 and male. But we know that there is a massive market out there of women and lapsed buyers who don't go into record shops." So some producers are looking for unconventional outlets to sell to women. The Independent (UK) 07/20/01

SPLITTING THE FREE MUSIC MARKET: It may well be true that, with Napster's pirate days behind it, the 50 million individuals who got their music for free during the song-swapper's run will eventually turn to pay-per-song download services. But with multiple free-music copycats continuing to stay one step ahead of record companies and the courts, many of the Napster refugees seem determined to keep using the digital five-finger discount for as long as someone, anyone, is willing to facilitate it. The New York Times 07/20/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • SELLING THE SOUL OF THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION: "The digital music revolution ended on Thursday. It died, at least symbolically, when MP3.com agreed to work with two of the five major record labels to deliver songs using the Internet." Wired 07/20/01

Thursday July 19

PICTURE THIS: The talk of the Glyndebourne Festival this year isn't the music but the portraits of the composers featured in the festival. They're "grim, uneasy, unapplauding. They look weakly insecure - especially the Britten portrait, which looks (it has to be said) like a child molester under police cross-examination." The artist? He's a Birtwistle - one of the featured composers' sons. The Telegraph (UK) 07/19/01

CHAMBER MUSIC RULES: Ottawa's International Chamber Music Festival has people camping out for tickets. The festival takes over the city this time of year. "Last year, the festival attracted more than 50,000 people and this year will present a staggering 106 concerts, making it the largest celebration of chamber music in the world." Ottawa Citizen 07/19/01

THE LANGUISHING MUSIC BIZ: Okay, so Napster's been kayoed (maybe not - see below), but recording sales are down about 3 percent and concert ticket sales are way sluggish. What's going wrong in the music business? Salon 07/19/01

NAPSTER, ROUND 372: An appeals court judge reverses a lower court and says the file trader can resume online operations. The Recording Industry Association will appeal...zzzzz Wired 07/19/01

THE KARAJAN AUDITION: For most performers, auditions are a challenge. For young soprano Sumi Jo, alone on the brightly-lighted stage of an empty theater, with Herbert von Karajan sitting somewhere out in the darkness, it was more than just a challenge. [RealAudio] NPR 07/17/01

WHAT DREAMS MAY DIE: Sapporo's Pacific Music Festival was founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1989 with a lot of dreams. Eleven years later, through a succession of illustrious maestros, the festival has flourished. But this year the mood "is one of unease, even stagnation, despite the enthusiasm of the current mayor. Too many bodies - including the Bernstein Foundation - seem involved in the festival, and despite the refreshing presence of the student- musicians and the charm of the drum-playing kindergarten children at the opening ceremony, it has an air of tired ritual about it." Financial Times 07/19/01

Wednesday July 18

THE MUSIC DIRECTOR PROBLEM: The Oslo Philharmonic seems to think that acquiring Andre Previn as its next music director "will bring a dash of Hollywood glamour to their strait-laced band and gain them a foothold on American soil." But "what can a former electrical-goods advertiser with five ex-wives and a hatful of vocational distractions add to its allure?" His appointment is indicative of a "selection process that is becoming too convoluted to produce the best results." The Telegraph (UK) 07/18/01

THE WAGNER PROBLEM. NO, THE OTHER ONE: "A power struggle among the descendants of Richard Wagner took its latest turn when a great-granddaughter of the composer announced she wants to head the opera festival that is named after him - a job her cousin rejected after a dispute with her father. Nike Wagner, who is known for her unconventional approach to opera, said she and Klaus Zehelein, the award-winning director of the Stuttgart State Opera, would apply to be co-directors of the renowned Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Bavarian radio reported Tuesday." Nando Times (AP) 07/17/01

FRENCH YOUTH GROUP FORCED TO SELL: "The Jeunesses musicales of France (JMF) – which was created in 1944 to help promote and support young artists and has expanded around the world – has run up tax and social security debts of Euros 580,000 [US$498,500] since January. Now a court in Paris has ordered that the offices of both JMF and its associate, the Jeune ballet de France (JBF), be sold." Gramophone 07/18/01

NEW YORK EYEING SUMMER HOME: "The New York Philharmonic is one step closer to establishing a summer home that could one day rival the Boston Symphony Orchestra's annual summer season at Tanglewood. The 4,000-seat, open shed-style venue with lawn capacity of 15,000 is to be built by the Gerry Foundation on the site of the 1969 Woodstock concert in Bethel, N.Y." Boston Herald 07/16/01

NAPSTER, ONCE AND AGAIN: The notorious online music service says it is just about ready to reinvent itself, and to play it straight this time. PlayMedia Systems has provided Napster with a brand new digital encoding technology which could allow the song-swapper to relaunch as a pay-for-play service within days. BBC 07/18/01

WHATEVER IT TAKES, APPARENTLY: Ontario's Windsor Symphony is raising eyebrows with its new ad campaign for the orchestra's summer concert series. One concert, featuring a woodwind ensemble, is billed as Breaking Wind. An all-brass performance: One Horny Concert. CBC 07/17/01

Tuesday July 17

KILLING OFF KENT: Norman Platt "founded a company called Kent Opera in 1969 and ran it until 1989, when it was killed off by the Arts Council in one of the most shameful episodes in this country’s artistic life." Platt was phenomenal at spotting talent; some of the opera world's brightest stars today were discovered by him. So why was Kent killed off? The Times (UK) 07/17/01

ANYONE FOR HERKY JERKY ELTON? Elton John is playing a concert at Ephesus tonight. It's to be available live on the internet, and producers have set a pay-per-view price of £7 and £10 to see it. But so few people have signed on to view the concert, the event could be a bust. The Independent (UK) 07/17/01

THE CD THAT CANNOT BE COPIED. NOT YET, ANYWAY: New CDs are on the market which claim to be pirate-proof. The anti-copying gimmick is tiny gaps in the music - "a consumer CD player bridges the gaps. It looks at the music on either side of the gap and interpolates a replacement section. But the computer's CD drive cannot repair the digital data going to the hard disc. So the hard disc copies nothing, or a nasty noise." The New Scientist 07/16/01

Monday July 16

CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLEMAN? Digital music and the internet were supposed to revolutionize the music industry. They did - but only for a short shining moment. The Economist 07/13/01

SLOW CONCERT SEASON: "This summer's concert season is starting to look like one of the weakest in years. Ticket sales are down 12 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the first half of 2000, according to Pollstar Magazine, which tracks the industry. Just 10 tours managed to gross $10 million between January and the end of June, compared with 19 last year and 16 in 1999." Washington Post 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

WAGNER IN ISRAEL: After conductor Daniel Barenboim performed Wagner in Israel last weekend, the mayor of Jerusalem accused him of "cultural rape." The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called for Israeli orchestras to ban the conductor from giving concerts with them. "For Israel coming to terms with Wagner is part of the whole impossible agony of coming to terms with the Holocaust. Barenboim has made a small step forward, but no one can pretend that the next advance will come quickly." The Guardian (UK) 07/14/01

ODE TO THE STRING QUARTET: A string quartet festival in Ottawa mines a resource: "It seems safe to say that the string quartet has become the most thriving of musical cottage industries. Players break away from symphony orchestras to perform quartets and never go back. In America there are now reputedly a hundred or more full-time quartets, and in Britain, too, the numbers are growing." Glasgow Herald 07/11/01

MORE THE MERRIER: This year's Van Cliburn Piano Competition chose two top winners for the first time in its history. But nobody's complaining - it's just more attention for more pianists - and hey, can that be a bad thing? Los Angeles Times 07/15/01

UNDERSTANDING AMERICAN: "Lacking an indigenous core repertory, American classical music is to this day impossible to frame. It remains reliant on Old World cultural parents for its menu of masterpieces. It remains bedeviled by an ambiguous and uneasy relationship with jazz, Broadway and other native popular genres." How ironic that those taking the lead in sorting through the American genre are European rather than American. The New York Times 07/15/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Friday July 13

TORONTO SYMPHONY ORDERED TO REINSTATE: The Toronto Symphony has been ordered to reinstate its star cellist; he was fired in May after performing in an amateur concert while on sick leave from the orchestra. But Daniel Domb, a 27-year veteran of the orchestra, says he's so angry about the dismissal he won't return. "The bad feelings stirred up in the whole orchestra aren't going to go away anytime soon." Toronto Star 07/12/01

  • BAD YEAR ALL AROUND: Domb was recently twice turned down for his disability insurance claim after a near-fatal head injury suffered in a fall in Mexico. Toronto Star 07/13/01

NAPSTER SETTLEMENT: Two original plaintiffs - Metallica and rap artist Dr. Dre - have settled their copyright suits against Napster. Financial terms were not disclosed, but as part of the agreement Metallica will allow some of the band's songs to be traded on Napster's system once a legal business model has been launched." Wired 07/12/01

  • NAPSTER STILL OFFLINE: A US judge tells Napster that the music file-swapping service will not be allowed to operate online again until copyright song filtering is 100 percent effective. Wired 07/12/01

PREMEDITATED WAGNER: If conductor Daniel Barenboim really didn't go to Israel last weekend intending to play Wagner (as Barenboim claims), why did the orchestra carry two harps with it? "The Prelude to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde calls for two harps - unlike the other symphonic works Barenboim had officially programmed as part of the orchestra's three concerts at the Israel Festival last week." Chicago Tribune 07/12/01

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

HOW ABOUT A LITTLE MORE ELITISM? London's Royal Opera House has lost its way, writes Norman Lebrecht. "So long as Covent Garden plies [its chairman's] apologetic counter-elitism, it will offer grunge-level rail-station services. It's on the wrong line. The ROH needs to smarten up, to pursue unashamed excellence without discrimination. If this is elitist, so be it." The Telegraph (UK) 07/11/01

KIROV BUST: The Kirov Opera's summer residency in London has been much anticipated. But opening night was "a severe disappointment, an embarrassment to admirers of the company who had gone into print in advance (include me in), cause for considerable anger, I would imagine, on the part of those who had paid astronomical prices to see and hear what can only be described as a desperately provincial show." The Times (UK) 07/11/01

MCGEGAN STEPS OUT OF CHARACTER: Conductor Nicholas McGegan, best known as an early music specialist, has been appointed music director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra, which is known for its commitment to new music. McGegan, who is currently affiliated with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonic Baroque Orchestra in California, will take up the reins of the ICO in fall 2002. Gramophone 07/11/01

BLAME IT ON TICKETMASTER: A combination of economic pressures and high ticket prices appear to be taking their toll on the one aspect of the music industry once thought to be impervious to economic factors: pop concerts. "The 10.9 million tickets bought to see the top 50 acts is nearly 16 percent lower than the 12.9 million during the same time last year." Dallas Morning News (AP) 07/11/01

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

Tuesday July 10

REBUILDING ON FAITH: At the end of this year La Scala will close for a 3-year $50 million renovation. But given the difficulty European opera houses have had rebuilding or restoring, "people cannot help wondering if La Scala's management can keep its promise to reopen on Dec. 7, 2004." The New York Times 07/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)

AGE VS MUSIC: "Does a composer's age influence the type of music he/she writes? At what point is one no longer considered a 'young' composer, and can a composer who is chronologically 'old' write in a young way?" NewMusicBox 07/01

GETTING BEYOND "PARK AND BARK": "I love opera dearly, but it has exhibited on its stages a vast array of klutzy behavior," says Richard Pearlman. His approach to the problem: bring in a choreographer to teach movement. Now, on a typical summer afternoon, "a pianist pounds out boogie woogie while three young opera singers hop, dip and shimmy as they sing." Chicago Tribune 07/08/01

POETRY AS FALLBACK: "What does it mean for a select group of pop songwriters, in the wane of their careers, to be repositioned as poets? Norman Mailer once snorted that 'if Dylan's a poet, I'm a basketball player'." New York Times Magazine 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday July 9

BLAME IT ON A CELL PHONE? Daniel Barenboim on why he decided to break his promise to not play Wagner in Israel: "On arriving in Israel, he said he had heard an Israeli journalist's mobile phone ring to the tune of Wagner's music. In that case, he surmised, it had to be possible to perform Wagner in public and decided to 'break with the taboo'." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07/09/01

  • Previously: BARENBOIM DEFIES WAGNER TABOO: This weekend, conductor Daniel Barenboim shocked concertgoers by leading the Berlin Staatskapelle in a surprise encore from Tristan and Isolde. BBC 07/08/01

BIG IS BIG: Is the notion of a Big Five list of American orchestras outdated? "The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra — are still the brand names in American classical music in ways that the St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic are not. Whether or not they deserve this status is beside the point." Andante 07/06/01

BERNSTEIN IN CUBA: "Leonard Bernstein was a 23-year-old vacationing in Key West, Fla., a half century ago when he first heard scratchy Cuban rhythms from a radio that was picking up a station on the island to the south. 'He was infatuated with the sound,' the late composer-conductor's daughter, Jamie Bernstein, said in Havana this week. 'And it later showed up in his music.' Now, she hopes to give something back to Cuba in two concerts aimed at introducing children to the work of her father." Ottawa Citizen (AP) 07/09/01

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

BARENBOIM DEFIES WAGNER TABOO: Richard Wagner was a celebrated composer, a brilliant musician, and a vicious anti-Semite whose writings excoriating Jews were often invoked after his death by the leaders of Germany's Third Reich. Understandably, the nation of Israel has never been particularly interested in having Wagner's music performed there, although the unofficial ban has faced intense opposition in recent years. But this weekend, conductor Daniel Barenboim shocked concertgoers by leading the Israeli Philharmonic in a surprise encore from "Tristan and Isolde." BBC 07/08/01

  • MAYOR THREATENS BARENBOIM BAN: "[Jerusalem] Mayor Ehud Olmert said the city will have to re-examine its relations with world-renowned conductor Daniel Barenboim after he performed the music of Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler's favorite composer, at the Israel Festival on Saturday night. 'What Barenboim did was brazen, arrogant, uncivilized and insensitive,' Olmert told Israel's army radio." Nando Times (AP) 07/08/01

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

OBVIOUSLY A STEINWAY PLOT: Baldwin, arguably the world's second-most prominent manufacturer of pianos, is in bankruptcy court, attempting to overcome years of outdated manufacturing processes, charges of recent mismanagement, and massive overstock. The company says it will rise again, but some dealers are doubtful. Dallas Morning News (AP) 07/07/01

ANOTHER ORCHESTRA ABANDONING SOUTH AMERICA? Earlier this year, the Cleveland Orchestra cancelled a major South American tour, citing financial concerns and difficulties with local promoters and venues. Now, sources at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are saying that the PSO's upcoming tour of the continent will likely be its last, for many of the same reasons. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 07/08/01

BLACK MUSIC, WHITE AUDIENCE: "Concerts of African music appeal to a largely white audience attuned to the rhythms of world music. A question that has long mystified observers of the scene and musicians alike is, where are the African-American faces in the audience? The question is especially pointed with respect to music, because if there is anything approaching a common currency throughout the black world, it is music." The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

SO, UM, MADONNA'S A POET? Ever since rock music began to get all heavy back in the protest era of the 1960s, the question of whether the lyrics of some songs can be counted as poetry has troubled musicians and poets alike. Norman Mailer says no, but the Beatles said yes, and these days, as poetry continues to experience an extended boom, the musicians may have won the argument simply by outlasting the naysayers. The New York Times 07/08/01 (one-time registration required for access)

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

GAMBLING ON THE SATELLITE: Satellite radio is coming, and no one seems quite sure what effect it will have on the way the world listens to music. It could turn AM and FM into dinosaurs in a matter of a few years. "Or, with billions already invested in multiple satellites as well as programmers, air talent, advertising, and new technologies, we may be on the verge of the most expensive technological misfire since Beta-format video." Boston Globe 07/08/01

Friday July 6

BERLIN PHIL GETS ITS WAY: Sir Simon Rattle has won the game of political chicken in Berlin. The city parliament has passed legislation turning the orchestra into a self-governing foundation, and appropriating more money for its needs. The moves would appear to fulfill Rattle's demands, and he is now expected to sign his contract, which has him taking over the helm of the world's most prestigious orchestra in 2002. BBC 07/06/01

PRAGUE GETS A CONDUCTOR: "74-year-old Serge Baudo is to become the new chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, according to reports in the French newspaper Le Monde. Baudo – who began his international career with the ensemble – has not held the directorship of an orchestra since he relinquished the role at the Orchestre de Lyon in 1989." Gramophone 07/05/01

LOOKING GOOD: Today's opera star has to look the part as well as sing it. "It's no longer enough to have a sexy, romantic voice, filled with artistry and musical allure. The visual criteria in opera have become almost as stringent as those of musical theater. Rare voice types, such as dramatic sopranos and Verdi mezzos, are allowed some leeway and some girth. But if you're a lyric mezzo or a Mozart baritone, you'd better hire a trainer, and fast." Opera News 07/01

GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE... How much direction does a group of musicians need to perform a piece of music? How about the audience? A performance of John Cage's music in Amsterdam tests how much structure is really necessary - for both sides of the performance experience. Los Angeles Times 07/06/01

DOWNLOAD THIS: Free music files may be on the outs legally, but sheet music available on the web is turning into a business. A new computer language produces downloadable sheet music; works of music whose copyright has run out are available. USAToday 07/05/01

  • NAPSTER STILL DOWN, THOUSANDS YAWN: "Song-swapping service Napster has entered its fifth day of being shut down as technical problems hamper its conversion to a paid, legal service. Since early Monday morning, Napster has blocked all file transfers, blaming problems in assembling the database needed for its new filters, which use "acoustic fingerprinting" technology." BBC 07/06/01

BEST PIANIST? Was Sviatislav Richter the greatest pianist of the 20th Century? Recordings don't do him justice, says a new book. No other pianist "had the combination of range, depth, technique, sound, command and sheer musicianship of Richter." New Statesman 07/02/01

Thursday July 5

JUST THROW MONEY AT IT: His career has been stalled for years. But Michael Jackson is trying for a comeback with the most expensively produced recording ever. "Industry sources claim that as much as $30 million dollars (£21.5 million) has been spent recording and re-recording 50 songs over three years in top studios with a succession of leading producers, songwriters, session musicians and guest artists." The Telegraph (UK) 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

LACKING CREDIT: An Australian indigenous music company is suing the producers of the American Survivor series. The company allowed the Americans to use music for the show in return for screen credits, which then never appeared. ``They more or less said well thank you very much for your music - now get lost.'' The Age (Melborune) 07/04/01

SO MUCH FOR CLASSICAL RECORDING? "The classical record is almost played out. The five big labels that command five-sixths of world sales have lost the will to produce. The minnows that swim between their cracks have lost the means to survive. This summer, it looks as if the game is up." The Telegraph (UK) 07/04/01

RATING EMINEM: Official Australia's none too happy that rapper Eminem is coming Down Under to give concerts. So the government in New South Wales is proposing to extend a movie ratings system to rate the concerts "R". Sydney Morning Herald 07/04/01

SEE THE MUSIC: The Emerson String Quartet collaborates with a theatrical director on a staged performance of Shostakovich's 15th string quartet. "All I wanted to do was to allow an audience to listen in another way, to try and open up the ears by using the eyes. I wanted to make it absolutely clear that this piece, rather than just being personal to Shostakovich, is in a way personal to all of us, to bring the music as close as possible to the audience so that they could realise what it's all about - memory, his own memories, death." The Guardian (UK) 07/04/01

PREVIN'S NEW POST: Andre Previn signs on as the Oslo Philaharmonic's new music director, replacing Mariss Jansons, who left the orchestra after 21 years. Norway Post 07/03/01

Tuesday July 3

ARROW THROUGH THE HEART: Napster finally went dark Monday, as the site closed awaiting launch of its new fee-based service. But already Napster use had dwindled to a precious few. "On June 27, 320,000 users shared an average of 1.5 songs each on Napster's service, a dramatic drop from an average 1.57 million users sharing an average of 220 songs each at the peak of the service in February. Dallas Morning News (AP) 07/02/01

  • TAKING AIM AT THE OTHERS: Having disposed of Napster, movie studios are after look-alike services. "The new lawsuit brought by the studios, filed Wednesday, accuses Aimster of posing a 'Napster-like' threat to the motion picture industry.'' Inside.com 07/02/01

HUB OF THE JAZZ WORLD: When the hot weather sets in, Canada is the place for jazz. "Forget New York, Chicago and New Orleans; for a six-week period the cool places for the switched-on jazz fan to be are Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Victoria, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal as the cream of the international jazz community criss-crosses the country." The Times (UK) 07/03/01

  • DIVINING THE FUTURE: Jazz is said to be on the wane, yet the crowded clubs of the Montreal Jazz Festival and a string of performances that push and build on the traditions of jazz give a more optimistic view of the future. National Post (Canada) 07/03/01

GERALD WHO? "If almost any other composer's name were on the score, this work would be treasured by the public." Its champions claim that Gerald Finzi's cello concerto surpasses Dvorak and Elgar... The Telegraph (UK) 07/03/01

Monday July 2

DEFINING MUSIC: The Grove's Encyclopedia is the Bible of the music world. "For the most part, this is a dictionary of classical music. People in the business fondly talk about "going to the Grove," as if they were about to camp out in a comfortable patch of woods. It is bigger than ever, but it is no longer infallible. It is a monument and a mess—not unlike the medium that it covers." The New Yorker 07/02/01

THE CONQUERING KIROV: "Even while the theatre has struggled over the past decade to survive independently of shrinking government funding, it has garnered international acclaim: critics have called the Kirov under Gergiev one of the artistic wonders of the contemporary world. Times may be hard for Russia's cultural institutions, but commentators have shown no signs of patronising the Kirov for doing so well on so little." The Guardian (UK) 07/02/01

  • BACKSTAGE BLOOEY: Is the Kirov the world's greatest opera company? Director David McVicar gets a bit of culture shock: "It's incredibly hard working there. My team and I are still trying to work out just what was so tough. There were so many contributory factors. The conditions backstage are antediluvian. The stage is a death trap. There is no backstage area to speak of, nowhere to store sets - and they're a repertoire house doing enormous productions night after night. It's crucifying for everyone involved." The Guardian (UK) 07/02/01

GLASS HOUSES: "Philip Glass is probably the only American composer since George Gershwin whose music could work equally well in a cocktail lounge or a concert hall. The music world has not yet made up its mind whether this is a good thing." The Atlantic 07/01

Sunday July 1

RATTLE GETS HIS WAY: "Sir Simon Rattle appeared to be close to signing a long-awaited contract with the city of Berlin yesterday, after politicians in the capital finally bowed to his key funding demands for its Philharmonic Orchestra." The Guardian (UK) 06/30/01

OPERA GOES DIGITAL: With DVD technology fast replacing analog videotape, countless movies have been enjoying renewed success on disc. Now, the classical music industry is starting to jump on the bandwagon, issuing a number of operas in the new format, which boasts superior sound as well as high-quality visuals. San Jose Mercury News (AP) 07/01/01

AUSSIE PM NOT A SLIM SHADY FAN: "The lyrics of controversial American rap singer Eminem were yesterday described as sickening and demeaning to women by [Australian] Prime Minister John Howard. Eminem is scheduled to tour Melbourne and Sydney this month. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has yet to receive a visa application from the singer, who will be expected to satisfy a broad range of "good character" requirements that take into account any criminal convictions." The Age (Melbourne) 07/02/01

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


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