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Six ways for Cameron-Clegg to please the arts

Although arts chiefs uniformly support Labour at election time, their backing this year was half-hearted. After 13 years of Blair-Brown rule, there is appetite for change at the top of the arts and the new regime can deliver several benefits.   1 Mitigate Cuts The outgoing government had warned arts organisations to expect ten percent budget hits in each of the next three years. Much of that has been put into repertoire planning. What the new government can do is make sure it … [Read more...]

Another civil partnership

Germany's two senior composers have not exchanged a civil word in 30 years. Hans Werner Henze and Helmut Lachenmann are natural antipodes. Henze is expressive, extravert, gay, socialist and rich. Lachenmann is ascetic, precise, married to a Japanese pianist, and a professor at Harvard. They have been sworn enemies since Henze, in some published musings, attacked Lachenmann for writing musica negativa. The pair then had a ding-dong on Stuttgart Radio in which the less flamboyant … [Read more...]

New Culture Secretary with Olympian aims

Jeremy Hunt has been announced as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport in the new Con-Lib British government. He will also inherit the separate and unnecessary job of minister for the Olympics, a seat created by Gordon Brown to keep Tessa Jowell off the dole. Merging the roles makes sense. It may also create savings in two obese organisations. Hunt is culturally literate and fiscally severe. He has told heads of arts organisations that there will be no exemptions from the imminent … [Read more...]

Last orders for the ladies who lunch

It will come as no surprise to anyone to discover that classical music PR has been hit as much as any other sector in the downturn, more so perhaps because much of it is mired in old technology and false terminology.  Artists are always great or important, they are only ever motivated by inspiration and, if they cancel a concert for a hottie on a South Sea beach, they must surely be doing so on doctor's orders. Many careers have been made by PR and twice as … [Read more...]

Free Mahler

The Orchestre de Paris is offering free streaming of the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) as its centennial gift to the world. The details are announced on his website by its outgoing chief conductor, Christophe Eschenbach, and is being operated in conjunction with Medici TV and the Arte channel. There appear to be no hidden traps or constraints. Once the orchestra has performed each symphony, it will remain available online until July 2011. All the details can be read, in … [Read more...]

Two Rumanian losses

The eminent artist Avigdor Arikha and the outstanding violinist and teacher Stefan Gheorghiu have died. They were born in the same year in Rumania. Arikha came from Czernowitz (now Ukraine), fled to Palestine, was wounded in the 1948 war and wound up in Paris, where he formed a creative friendship with the playwright Samuel Beckett. Moving from abstract art to portraiture, Arikha had exceptional graphic insights. I met him at the British Museum in June 2006 … [Read more...]

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