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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Remembering Kirk Varnedoe Curator Kirk Varnedoe played a crucial role in the building of the Museum of Modern Art. He "came to the museum at a transforming moment in its evolution. Circumstances forced him to leave before that transition was complete, and after a long battle with cancer he died, on August 14, at the age of 57. But when MoMA celebrates its 75th anniversary next year with the opening of its new building on 53rd Street, his indelible mark will be upon it." ARTnews 10/03

Monday, September 29, 2003

The Lives Of Elia Kazan Creatively, Elia Kazan was multi-talented. "His creative life divides neatly into three acts: In 1932, he came to New York to change theater; in 1945, he redefined Broadway and Hollywood; in 1964, he launched a third career as a novelist and memoirist." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/29/03

  • Remembering Kazan Elia Kazan's movies, "seen today, are likely to seem less slices of life than social and psychological fables, more rhetorical and high-minded than tough and unvarnished. Which is what they always were of course, and why they stay with us. They are parables of conflicted conscience and unstable desire, studies of individuals — of men, to be precise — driven to rage, rebellion and sometimes to do the right thing." The New York Times 09/30/03

  • Understanding Kazan "Kazan will probably be remembered primarily for 'On the Waterfront,' which brings up the awkward issue of his politics. The film is regarded by some as his rationalization for testifying as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, confessing his own past Communist Party membership and naming other members. Some people never forgave him for that - they thought he was selling out to save his career." Washington Post 09/30/03

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Elia Kazan, 94 Director Elia Kazan's achievements in theater and cinema "helped define the American experience for more than a generation. For Broadway, his legendary productions included "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a Salesman." His movie classics included "On the Waterfront" and "East of Eden." The New York Times 09/29/03

Herb Gardner, 68 Playwright Herb Gardner, who wrote hit Broadway comedies such as 'A Thousand Clowns' and the Tony-winning 'I'm Not Rappaport,' has died of lung cancer. He was 68." Backstage (AP) 09/25/03

Baryshnikov Selling Home Mikhail Baryshnikov is selling his New Jersey home. "He has lowered the price on his 4-acre suburban retreat to $8 million from $9.5 million. The Palisades, N.Y., property, which went on the market in January, includes a 3,900-square-foot main house that dates to the 1870s. It has five bedrooms, 41/2 baths, a great room and sauna. " Backstage (AP) 09/26/03

George Plimpton, 76 "George Plimpton, the New York aristocrat and literary journalist whose career was a happy lifelong competition between scholarly pursuits and madcap attempts — chronicled in self-deprecating prose — to try his hand at glamorous jobs for which he was invariably unsuited, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 76." The New York Times 09/27/03

  • The Well-Rounded Intellectual George Plimpton was an icon, but that's not what makes his life so impressive, says Linton Weeks. What made Plimpton special was the way in which he could effortlessly bridge gaping cultural and societal divides, and in the process, become a respected figure to so many disparate elements of American society. He could hold his own in any intellectual discussion, and yet he had a rollicking sense of humor which is so often lacking in intellectuals. He could relate to the blue-collar nature of the NFL lineman, even as he prepared to lead a panel discussion on the New York literary scene. In short, Plimpton was a man for all seasons, in an era when such figures are increasingly rare. Washington Post 09/27/03

Skrowaczewski's Musical Protest Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is 80, and looks it. But the wiry little man, who has built a reputation as one of the world's preeminent composers and conductors, is as full of energy as ever, and his latest symphony, which premieres this week in Minneapolis, has a decidedly angry bent, reflecting his frustration with the current lot of the arts in America. "For Skrowaczewski, the symphony reflects matters both public and private. In a recent conversation at Orchestra Hall, the conductor nearly exploded on hearing the name of President George W. Bush. 'Stupid! He has spoiled the position of this country for decades,' he said." Minneapolis Star Tribune 09/28/03

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Edward Said, 67 Noted scholar Edward Said has died at the age of 67. "His writings have been translated into 26 languages and his most influential book, Orientalism (1978), was credited with forcing Westerners to re-examine their perceptions of the Islamic world. His works cover a plethora of other subjects, from English literature, his academic speciality, to music and culture." The Guardian (UK) 09/26/03

Nixon, The Closet Bookworm There is a long tradition, on the American political right, of taking potshots at academics, professors, and other assorted "eggheads." In fact, mistrust of the academic elite is practically gospel amongst conservative opinion leaders, and former U.S. president Richard Nixon was no exception. Nixon was famous for his conviction that the "so-called intellectuals" were plotting against him. But Nixon had a decidedly intellectual side himself, as it turns out. Always resentful of the second-class education he had received, Nixon was a voracious reader throughout his life, and even struck up friendships with some of the "eggheads" he so publicly reviled. National Post (Canada) 09/25/03

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Canadian National Gallery Chief Under Fire The director of the National Gallery of Canada has come under fire for some $600,000 in travel expenses over the past six years. Questions are being raised by members of the Canadian Alliance party in parliament. CBC 09/24/03

Hayley Westenra, Teen Classical Sensation Singer Hayley Westenra is now 16, and "has a £3 million, five-album deal under her belt, to which, this week, she added the fastest selling debut classical record of all time. Pure, her third album (though the first to be released internationally) sold nearly 20,000 copies last week, beating anything Charlotte Church has managed - or Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli or Russell Watson, for that matter. She is also at number eight in the mainstream pop album charts, wedged between Daniel Bedingfield and the Black Eyed Peas." The Guardian (UK) 09/24/03

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Ou Est Jean-Paul Sartre? Jean-Paul Sartre is getting a fresh look in France these days. But which Satre? "More than two decades after his death, French intellectuals are trying to reconcile the two Sartres. In the cafes of Paris, the question 'Êtes-vous Sartrien?' is once again being heard. Recently, a new biography of Sartre and several homages to his career have become best sellers in France. One of them, Bernard-Henri Lévy's Sartre: The Philosopher of the Twentieth Century, has just been brought out here in English. What is taking place is a rehabilitation of sorts, and it isn't hard to see what's behind it." Slate 09/23/03

Monday, September 22, 2003

Documents: US Ban Of Graham Greene "Made US Look Bad" In 1952, the US banned novelist Graham Greene from entering the United States, citing his youthful membership in the Communist party. Greene was a critic of US foreign policy. Documents reveal though that US officials thought the ban made the US look bad. "They conceded that he had been a member of the British Communist party for only four weeks when a 19-year-old student, 'as a joke'. They admitted his writing clearly showed that he was anti-communist, according to the documents obtained by the Guardian under the US Freedom of Information Act." The Guardian (UK) 09/22/03

Ned Rorem At 80 Composer Ned Rorem is turning 80 - and his "bleak pessimism about the future of music and the world at large has deepened even more. Yet the number and scale of events this season show that his fears of being forgotten are ill-founded. Indeed, Rorem's milestone year is being marked in grand style." The Sun-Sentinel (South Florida) 09/21/03

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Rattle In Berlin: No Sparks Just Yet When Simon Rattle, the most heralded young conductor of the last several decades, signed on to head the Berlin Philharmonic, widely considered to be the best orchestra in the world, it seemed like a failure-proof partnership. Rattle could shake up the stodgy Berlin establishment, while at the same time gaining the support of the musicians with his undeniable talent with the baton. But more than a year into the Rattle era, Stephen Everson isn't seeing much to back up all the hype. At this year's Proms, "it was very striking how little attention the players seemed to pay to their director, and how little his gestures seemed to demand of them." The Guardian (UK) 09/20/03

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Oundjian - From Violin To Podium Peter Oundjian has been appointed music director of the Toronto Symphony. But first he's got a couple of seasons to play out leading the Colorado Symphony. "That's on top of guest-conducting engagements this summer with such premier orchestras as the Boston Symphony and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and his two ongoing posts of artistic director of the Caramoor International Music Festival in New York and music director of the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam." Just eight years ago, Oundjian wasn't a conductor, but a violinist with the Tokyo String Quartet. Denver Post 09/18/03

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Sculptor Granlund Dies Sculptor Paul Granlund, whose works were commissioned by collectors and colleges around the world, has died at the age of 77. "Granlund is known for his exuberant human figures, especially dancing lovers and families lifting children into the air. Though primarily a figurative artist, he was equally adept doing geometric and Cubist shapes and even Pop subjects including... huge bronze alphabet letters and a star-burst." Minneapolis Star Tribune 09/17/03

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Jonathan Miller, Junkyard Director Director Jonathan Miller has turned sculptor. He spends time in junkyards finding pieces of scrap to weld together. "When I get called an intellectual or a renaissance man or a polymath I think about how my parents would have been embarrassed to be called such vulgar things. they were middle-class, cultivated people - my mother was a very good novelist - to whom knowing about books and art and speaking languages was normal, as well as taking an interest in science and philosophy. They were just educated people who had a lot of interests. It's normal. And so it is for me. I'm just normally sophisticated, like my dear old dad and my long-dead mother, but I'm increasingly ashamed of the vulgarity around me." The Guardian (UK) 09/16/03

Monday, September 15, 2003

Lloyd-Webber To Leave Art To UK Theatre producer Andrew Lloyd-Webber says he'll leave his art collection to the British people when he dies. "Lord Lloyd-Webber's collection is described as one of the finest in private hands and includes works by Picasso, Canaletto and Rossetti." BBC 09/15/03

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Getting Angry At Vilar Now that philanthropist Alberto Vilar is broke and unable to meet his pledge commitments to opera companies such as the Metropolitan, a surprising degree of anger towards him has surfaced. "Vilar thinks that the Met simply does not understand the American model of philanthropy, in which giving marches in step with the ups and downs of the financial markets. In strong markets, the wealthy give more; the quid pro quo is that when markets are weak, donors must be allowed to reschedule pledged payments until the markets rebound." The Economist 09/11/03

Cruz-ing To Respectability "Like most unpublished plays, the manuscript version of Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz has the unmistakable stamp of the personal home computer: typographical errors, the playwright's home address and telephone number, and a hurriedly scrawled 'latest version' annotation on its front cover. That normally gets lesser-known regional playwrights a spot on the dusty shelf of some literary manager in a struggling regional theater. It got Cruz a Pulitzer Prize." Chicago Tribune 09/14/03

Friday, September 12, 2003

Man In Black Dead at 71 Country music legend Johnny Cash has died at a Nashville hospital from complications from diabetes. Cash's career spanned six decades, and earned him eight Grammy awards. His music did not follow the mainstream commercial path of so many other country artists, and he embraced both humor and social conscience in his songs. From the ridiculous poignance of "A Boy Named Sue" to the bitter lament of the "Folsom Prison Blues," Cash made his mark on multiple generations of listeners. "As much an American icon as Mark Twain or Woody Guthrie or John Wayne, Cash created a persona that often seemed to overshadow his genius as a writer and performer. A country music archetype who helped invent rock and roll, he always returned for solace to the gospel music of his youth." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 09/12/03

Ned Rorem At 80 "I love it when people talk about my music and I hate it when they don't, but I never know quite what they're talking about. When people analyze my music in a formal way - not by what it means in a Wallace Stevens-ish way but by what it is made of in a technical way - I say to myself, 'Oh gee, did I do that? I guess I did'." San Francisco Chronicle 09/10/03

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The Cult Of Adorno Theodor Adorno was born 100 years ago. He's "recognized as one of the leading critical minds of the 20th century, a man with an intellectual range that seemingly knew no bounds. He was a musicologist who studied in Vienna with Alban Berg and a composer in his own right, a social theorist steeped in the tradition of western Marxism, and a highly regarded commentator on literature and poetry. Yet Adorno polarized many with his dialectical style and his uncompromising assault on the enlightenment, Hegelian idealism and existentialism." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 09/12/03

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Harrison Birtwistle, Establishment Composer? Harrison Birtwistle is one of the UK's leading composers. "I can't get into all that stuff about communication. That's what so many younger composers are doing now, and to me it seems retrogressive. It's all rhetoric and no form. For me, music is all about making a real form, otherwise all you're doing is making a substitute, adding another piece into a world that is already filled with pieces very like it. You have to have a vision." The Telegraph (UK) 09/11/03

Leni Riefenstahl's Packed 101 Years "Her most perceptive critics paint a picture of Miss Riefenstahl as a female Faust, who made a pact with Hitler in order to fulfill professional ambitions. So spectacularly did she use slow-motion photography and telephoto lenses, so dramatically did she wed inspirational music to inspirational image, that Miss Riefenstahl created the grammar of the sports movie, influencing the way TV sports events and movies such as Chariots of Fire were framed and shot." Philadelphia Inquirer 09/10/03

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Leni Riefenstahl, 101 Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl has died at the age of 101. "She was the first female film director to attract international acclaim, but her career was curtailed by public, industry and official antipathy owing to her status as "Hitler's favourite film-maker". The Guardian (UK) 09/09/03

Martin Amis - Peace In The Storm Martin Amis has a new book out and it's had some critical drubbing. "After a going-over like this it wouldn't be such a surprise if I were to report that Amis was a broken man: shoulders stooped; grey skin; eyes empty. Actually, he looks in terrific shape. At 54, his slicked-back hair may be of a colour seldom seen on nature's paint chart, but he's tanned, relaxed, good-humoured - and thinner than before." The Telegraph (UK) 09/10/03

Karen Finley Returns It's been awhile since performance artist Karen Finley was the poster girl for Culture War controversy. Now she's back with a new piece and getting new respect. "A lot of things have changed. Women's rights in some ways have improved from the time I was doing my work 15 years ago. There are just different issues. The issues I'm dealing with now are the chaos of this nation at war and the psychological impact of struggling with a nation mourning." Denver Post 09/09/03

Monday, September 8, 2003

Simone Young In Hamburg Simone Young is the first woman to hold a leading position in a major European opera house. "After a sudden — and sensational — announcement by Opera Australia last year that the company would not renew Ms. Young's contract, she accepted the top positions at Hamburg, a trifecta of sorts: music director and general manager of the opera, and director of the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra. She has big plans for Hamburg, where she has negotiated a contract starting in August 2005 that puts her in charge of the purse strings." The New York Times 09/09/03

Sunday, September 7, 2003

Vänskä In Minnesota Conductor Osmo Vänskä takes on the Minnesota Orchestra this week as music director. "Vänskä's personality has intriguing contradictions. He's a clarinetist who loves hockey and motorcycles. He speaks of personal modesty and subservience to the composer, and yet he works in a glamorous, ego-driven profession in which he has become a star, first in Europe and now increasingly in the United States, where, as a guest conductor, he is constantly re-engaged by the nation's major orchestras. He embodies the patient, hard-working maestro who in his early years shunned the international spotlight, turning down prestigious guest-conducting offers in Europe in order to devote himself to the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, a once-provincial Finnish ensemble that is now famous the world over for its revelatory recordings of works by Sibelius." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 09/07/03

The RIAA's New Man Mitch Bainwol is the new head of the Recording Industry Association of America. "One Democratic operative describes him - apart from his ever-present Blackberry - as 'the world's least hip-seeming guy.' Hipness is not part of the RIAA job requirement, even if he's the new Washington voice of the music world's hottest acts. Representing the interests of the nation's largest recording companies - and to a certain extent their stable of artists - with unparalleled zeal is the primary mission. collective picture emerges of Bainwol as someone who has the rare combination of steely-eyed resolve, uncanny intelligence, a friendly attitude, the ability to tell it like it is and the tact required to achieve compromise when necessary." Washington Post 09/05/03

Friday, September 5, 2003

Susan Chilcott, 40 Soprano Susan Chilcott, considered one of Britain's brightest young opera stars, has died of breat cancer at age 40. "Among the first to pay tribute to the singer, who died at her home in Timsbury, near Bath, was the Royal Opera House's music director, Antonio Pappano. 'We are all devastated... She was surely one of the shining stars on the international opera scene'." The Guardian (UK) 09/05/03

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Opera Amidst The Microchips For two decades, Irene Dalis has been at the helm of the opera company she helped to found in her hometown of San Jose. Opera San Jose is a major success story in a tough field, and Dalis gets much of the credit for keeping the company vibrant through good times and bad. "We don't pretend to be something that we're not. We're certainly not going to be a San Francisco Opera. Their budget is around $60 million. Ours is under $3 million. But we have other values. Our company is the only one of its kind in America and it's not because I'm such a genius. I'm copying the format used in Germany where each city of 100,000 or more has its own opera company and they hire singers by the year." San Jose Mercury News 09/04/03

Stafford To Lead Milwaukee Public Michael Stafford has been named the new head of the Milwaukee Public Museum. Stafford has been the chief of a Michigan science museum, where he oversaw a $31 million renovation project. The hope in Milwaukee is that Stafford will be able to raise the museum's local profile, and by extension, improve its fundraising abilities. The museum's last president, Roger Bowen, resigned after only 15 months on the job. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 09/03/03

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Sir Terry Frost, 87 Abstract painter Sir Terry Frost has died of cancer. "Sir Terry was at the forefront of abstract art in Britain and was renowned for his use of vibrant colours, dolloping blobs of colour and spiralling squiggles on to his canvasses." The Guardian (UK) 09/02/03

Monday, September 1, 2003

Art Newspaper Editor Moves On Anna Somers Cocks, founding editor of The Art Newspaper, is leaving the publication after 13 years. “Over the years I have learnt how much the art world is interconnected: how, for example, an academic publication in one country can lead to an exhibition in another that then boosts the market for a certain category of art." The Art Newspaper 08/30/03

The Making Of A Prodigy Twenty-one-year-old pianist Lang Lang is the brightest of young stars. "Lang Lang's story, like that of many athletic and artistic prodigies, is emblematic of an entire generation of Chinese parents and their only children, and their high expectations and extreme sacrifices for those children." The New York Times 09/01/03

Parks On Play Writing Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks on how to write a play: "I feel that you can plan a play out in great detail, or have it just strike you over the head when you walk down the street. Either way, it's ultimately an act of grace." Seattle Times 08/31/03

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