AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!

MAY 2000

Wednesday May 31

  • FULL OF HEART: Conductor Mariss Jansons almost died of a heart attack at the podium during a "La Bohème" in Oslo four years ago. Now at the helm of both the Oslo and Pittsburgh Philharmonics, his career has hit an updraft - Vienna’s Musikvereinsaal recently launched an exclusively Jansons subscription series. The Telegraph 05/31/00

  • REBEL TO SELL: An awful lot of indie music is turning up on commercials for luxury items these days. Why? "If selling today's college kids on conspicuous consumption is easy, selling it to twenty and thirty-year-olds is a trickier proposition: how to define in marketing terms a demographic which, not so long ago, defined itself in opposition to the market? The answer is simple if you grant that ironies are like submarines; dangerous only when submerged." Feed 05/30/00

  • SYMPHONY OF THE MILLENNIUM: It's a mad project - mad - demented, even. "Take the egos of 19 composers and assign them roles in a compositional undertaking in which they have to conform to a single overriding artistic direction, to be interpreted by a dozen ensembles sometimes playing outdoors in a massive site. There will be "333 musicians, 2,000 bell-ringers, hordes of scouts and cadets, and thousands of Montrealers and visitors are expected to mass at the gardens of St. Joseph's Oratory and be surrounded by the sound of the $1-million Symphony of the Millennium - a work collectively composed by 19 people. Toronto Globe and Mail 05/31/00

  • A LITTLE VIVALDI WITH YOUR TOMATOES? MP3.com announces it will supply background music to supermarkets and retail stores over the internet. Stores can program in their own commercials. Variety 05/31/00

Monday May 29

  • A CHAMPION STEPS DOWN: Joseph Dalton has been a tireless promoter of contemporary music with his recording label CRI. But after a decade running the company, the 37-year-old has stepped down - a loss for fans of new music. New York Times 05/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • OVERREACHING AMBITIONS? Outgoing music director Bramwell Tovey built a major new-music festival - one of the best in North America - and rebuilt the Winnipeg Symphony. But he also spent it into the ground, says the orchestra's president. CBC 05/28/00 

Sunday May 28

  • THE BATTLE OF BRITTEN: Benjamin Britten's estate has been managed so effectively that it is Britain's most generous private patron of new music. But behind the fund, a Byzantine web of layers and policy maneuverings. The Telegraph (London) 05/28/00

  • LIVING IN THE PAST: "What opera needs, at least as much as great voices, is great personalities. Not 'divas,' in the debased sense of egomaniacs with mannerisms, but intrepid explorers of the human condition, each a Ulysses who has traveled far, seen much, felt deeply. Explorers who convey the fullness of experience through music, word and gesture, touching, in ways unique to themselves, the chord of the universal." New York Times 05/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • SOLO SERVICE: What happened to the jazz solo? "More often than not, I brace myself at that moment when all members of a group simmer down to accompany a solo from a frontline musician. Because it often means that I'm going to hear not just one solo, but a bunch of them. They may be long, far longer than they need to be. They may seem like place-fillers for what could be stronger, shorter, more memorable music. By the end of the tune, I'm often left wondering how it is that solos - and especially that theme-solos-theme format - became such a necessary part of jazz." New York Times 05/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday May 26

  • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS: A long-lost opera with music by Mozart will receive its first European performance this weekend in London. “The Philosophers Stone,” discovered in a library by an American musicologist four years ago, was co-composed by Mozart and three peers in 1790. “Contrary to the popular image reinforced by Peter Schaffer's 1979 play “Amadeus,” “The Philosopher's Stone” shows that Mozart was happy to work with other composers.” BBC 05/25/00

  • MUSIC MARATHON: BBC Music Live - Britain’s largest music festival ever - gets under way this week. The five-day event includes a 24-hour broadcast music marathon and a call for an “instrument amnesty” - an appeal for people to donate unused instruments to the UK school system’s many underfunded music programs. BBC 05/25/00

  • REMEMBERING RAMPAL: No other flutist did as much for the instrument as Jean-Pierre Rampal, who died earlier this week. Boston Globe 05/25/00

  • CLASSICAL DEFENSE: BBC’s Head of Classical Music Peter Maniura defends the BBC against recent criticism that it’s gone soft on classical music programming. The Telegraph 05/26/00  

  • LAYING TRACKS: Lavish soundtracks have become an increasingly integral part of movie-making and movie-promoting. Madonna, Metallica, and U2 have all contributed new songs to big-budget movies recently. “Soundtracks have been the sleeper album chart success story of the last decade. In 1996 US music buyers were snapping up four times as many soundtrack albums as they had been 10 years before.” The Guardian 05/26/00

Thursday May 25

  • THE NUMBERS ARE IN: College students are downloading music from the internet rather than buying it. A new study shows that "sales of recorded music near college campuses declined by 4 percent between the first three months of 1998 and the same period this year. Sales at all stores went up 12 percent during the same time. "This demonstrates the importance of protecting artists' rights on the Internet." Washington Post (AP) 05/25/00

  • THE DEBATE RAGES ON: A four-line amendment to the copyright law inserted into a Congressional bill last year has incited a passionate debate between musicians and recording companies over ownership of recordings. The amendment added sound recordings as a category of copyrighted materials that can be considered "work made for hire," a term usually reserved for collective works, like movies, that are commissioned by studios. "U.S. recording artists are the most unprotected segment of the entire world of copyright." New York Times 05/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • SHE’S A DIVA: Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu - who first made her name at Covent Garden in 1994 in La Traviata - has been winning over opera fans ever since. “At a time when opera houses are in thrall to cost-cutting initiatives, she offers a glimpse of a previous era when passion and glamour were written into a diva's job description.” The Telegraph 05/25/00

Wednesday May 24

  • BOULEZ SPEAKS: An interview with composer/conductor Pierre Boulez, who received Israel’s prestigious Wolf Prize for Lifetime Achievement this week. Ha’aretz (Israel) 05/24/00  

  • AND FAIRNESS FOR ALL: One of the big promises of the internet is that it will allow fairer better deals for recording artists. Says a record exec: "Cathartic as it is to vent at record companies and carry the banner for artist empowerment, it seems to me that many of the attacks on the inequitable sharing of the pie have been overstated. The problems most artists have with record companies (and there are many legitimate problems, don't get me wrong) have nothing to do with how the money is divided up, so long as we are talking about acts that actually sell enough records." Inside.com 05/24/00

  • AMICABLE SPLIT: A Cleveland orchestra splits in two. "Previously a 40-member ensemble that played repertoire for small orchestra, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra is set to become a 13-member, concertmaster-led group. The society also will sponsor a larger ensemble, the New American Orchestra, to play ethnic, educational and themed programs." Cleveland Plain Dealer 05/24/00

Tuesday May 23

  • THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Last week La Scala announced it will produce Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Phantom of the Opera". "It is not so many decades since Arturo Toscanini's decision to perform the works of Wagner at this temple of Italian opera was met with consternation. Even today, there is a faction of the Scala audience still sniffy about that Austrian interloper Mozart. Many opera lovers want La Scala to be faithful only to its great Italian traditions." The Age (Melbourne) (The Guardian) 05/23/00

  • COURTING A MAESTRO: Later this week a delegation from the New York Philharmonic heads to Milan to try to talk conductor Riccardo Muti into signing up to run their orchestra. Says Muti: It is a love affair," he said, in his trademark style: equal part arrogance, equal part charm. "But it is not yet a marriage." And besides, the charms of La Scala and his current job aren't easily overlooked. Sydney Morning Herald 05/23/00

  • THE INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF JAZZ: New York's Lincoln Center announces it will build what it says will be  the first concert hall built specifically for jazz. It's "a 100,000-square-foot complex at Columbus Circle with two auditoriums, a club-size jazz cafe, two rehearsal studios and a classroom, all wired for recording, broadcast and Webcast. New York Times 05/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • WAGNER IN ISRAEL: An Israeli orchestra announces it will play Wagner on its season next year, ending a country-wide moratorium against performing the composer because of his anti-Jewish views. It's time, writes one critic. Chicago Tribune 05/23/00 

Monday May 22

  • TEST DRIVING A CONCERT HALL: On tour in Europe, the Philadelphia Orchestra stops for a concert in Birmingham England's acclaimed concert hall. The hall was designed by the same architect who is designing the Philadelphia's new home. The verdict? "For many, the concert had been tough. The strings could hear neither in front nor in back of themselves. 'The rehearsal was frightening. Ensemblewise, we were all over the place. It feels like you're walking on eggshells.' " Philadelphia Inquirer 05/22/00


Sunday May 21

  • JEAN-PIERRE RAMPAL, one of the century's most popular flutists, has died in Paris at the age of 78. Dallas Morning News (AP) 05/21/00

  • POWER OF PERSONALITY: Opera in Los Angeles has long been an iffy proposition. The LA Opera company lacks personality, and new artistic director Placido Domingo figures to give it some star power. But he's so busy with other commitments, he won't be able to do it himself. Los Angeles Times 05/21/00

  • THIS OLD HALL: Boston's Symphony Hall has some of the best acoustics in America. But it was built for a different time, so the BSO is looking at ways to (carefully) update. Boston Globe 05/21/00

  • ARCHETYPAL AMERICAN: Aaron Copland would have been 100 years old this year. "Listeners who think of Copland's style as bland or ingratiating are relying on the faulty filtering of memory, compounded by an awareness of the composer's famously warm and congenial personal demeanor." San Francisco Chronicle 05/21/00

  • POPULAR DOWNSIZE: Seems like everybody's downsizing these days. The latest - the summer pop festival scene, where smaller, more focused events are replacing the big Lollapalooza-type free-for-alls. Chicago Sun-Times 05/21/00

  • SHAWN FANNING: Never heard of him? Six months ago the 19-year-old invented Napster, the digital music download software that has turned the music recording world upside down. Now he finds himself at the middle of the music upheaval and he's being sued by his favorite band. The Observer 05/21/00

  • RECREATING JANE: Michael Berkeley had a big success with his first opera, based on two Kipling stories. But his second opera - based on "Jane Eyre" was much difficult to write. For one thing, the manuscript for the first half was stolen with his briefcase on the train last year... The Telegraph (London) 05/21/00

  • CLICK AND GO: Last year more than $300 million worth of tickets were sold online, and that number is expected to grow to about $4 billion by 2004, according to Forrester Research. Tom Stockham, president of Ticketmaster.com, part of the Ticketmaster Online-City Search network, said about 20 percent of tickets purchased in this year's first quarter were bought online. That's up from eight percent of sales in the first quarter of1999, and less than two percent at the same time in1998. Seattle Times 05/21/00

Friday May 19

  • BEATING TIME FOR FAME AND FORTUNE: The musicians who actually play the notes get paid peanuts. But the guys out in front of them waving the stick get movie-star salaries. So what gives? Why are they worth so much? The Guardian 05/19/00

  • A GREAT MILLENNIUM FOR COMPOSERS: So why did this big gap open between popular and serious music? "Arguably the most important development in music over the past 1,000 years has been the standardization of proportional musical notation, allowing complex musical works to be passed on in a visual form." Christian Science Monitor 05/19/00

  • BOOMER BEATS: Jazz great Herbie Hancock plans to launch a web site and record label - both called Transparent Music - to develop jazz, R&B, and blues for the baby boomer crowd, instead of the dominant 18-34 hit-singles market. “Only targeting this market would be like if all the food manufacturers started making Häagen-Dazs," he said. “We’d all get sick.” Wired 05/18/00

Thursday May 18 

  • A MATTER OF ECONOMICS: "Where once the classical recording giants could allow themselves to fill a cultural need while making money, now they are only interested in making money - lots of money, and quickly. A new recording by 'N Sync sells 1.1 million copies in a single day, and the accountants wonder why a Kissin or Pierre Boulez cannot do the same. A successful classical recording will sell not much more than 10,000 to 20,000 copies, unimpressive by the inflated standards of the pop music market." Chicago Tribune 05/18/00

  • FALSE HOPES: Yes there was a lot of speculation last week that CD prices might start falling after the FTC did away with minimum-pricing rules. But don't hold your breath, say music industry observers. The big chains are no longer as competitive as they once were, and all retailers are scared of the internet. Dallas Morning News 05/18/00 

  • ON MAKING A NAME: "When the bounding, affable Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel made his local debut in 1996, he seemed almost certain bait for the sharks--a great singer and a great entertainer just a little too eager to soak up audience adulation, too ready to overdramatize. Certainly it has worked--his popularity continues to soar. He is one of the biggest tickets in big-ticket opera." Los Angeles Times 05/18/00

  • FAREWELL, MASTER: After 43 years as concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, violinist Raymond Gniewek is retiring from the Met and will be giving his final concerts this weekend. New York Times 05/18/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

Wednesday May 17

  • MONUMENT TO MUSIC: Frank Gehry's swoopy droopy Experience Music Project (please don't call it a museum) is opening soon in Seattle. Says Gehry: "This building is supposed to be a lot of fun. That's what Paul Allen wanted. Fun. It's supposed to be unusual. The (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum) in Cleveland wanted a straight-forward corporate look. Paul didn't want that. He wanted what he called a swoopy building. Nobody has seen this before or will see it again. Nobody will build another one." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 05/16/00

    • A BUILDING OR A METAPHOR? "Up close, the latest offering from architect Frank Gehry looks like a cross between a giant spaceship and globs of playdough." National Post (Canada) 05/17/00

  • IF YOU BUILD WILL THEY PAY? For decades Philadelphia has talked about a new concert hall. Now the ground has been broken and one is being built. But there are still issues - the Philadelphia Orchestra still hasn't signed a contract to use it. And then there's money - where's the rest of it going to come from to complete the thing? Philadelphia Inquirer 05/17/00

  • A WINNING FORMULA FOR MUSIC: Dutch violinist-turned-conductor Andre Rieu has "stumbled onto a magic formula for bringing classical music to what are snobbishly called 'the masses.' His CDs - like his latest, `100 Years of Strauss,' on the Philips label - are instant bestsellers. Videos of his concerts with his 35-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra are PBS fund-raising staples. And spectacle is the word most people use to describe his live shows."  Boston Herald 05/17/00

  • THE REAL MUSIC VILLAINS: The FTC estimates consumers may have paid as much as $480 million more than they should have for CDs the last three years because of what is known as the Minimum Advertised Price program. Last fall, compact disc prices hit an all-time high of $18.98. Yet artists usually make less than $2 for every CD sold, once they've repaid the record label for recording and promotional expenses. That's why Metallica's decision to go after their own fans for downloading Metallica music off the Internet is so absurd. Musicians moan about fans ripping them off via the Internet, but the true villains are the record companies who shortchange artists and overcharge record buyers. Chicago Tribune 05/17/00

  • LICENSE TO PLAY: The recording rights organization BMI announces a plan to license internet companies to be able to play music over the net. "The licenses give Internet companies the right to perform publicly all of BMI's 4.5 million copyrighted works from its 250,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers." Wired 05/17/00

Tuesday May 16

  • PLANETARY SEQUEL: Colin Matthews' new Pluto movement to finish up Holst's "The Planets" finally gets a hearing. Though there's no evidence Holst ever intended to write a "Pluto," Matthews has completed the job. "Trying to replicate Holst's musical style would have risked producing a feeble pastiche, so Matthews has composed as himself, yet he doffs his cap affectionately in some smaller respects." Financial Times 05/16/00

  • COMEBACK KID: In less than five years since Paul Kellogg has turned around the fortunes of New York City Opera. When he became the company's artistic and general director in 1996, the company was $5 million debt, "had lost its sense of artistic direction and was coping emotionally with the death from AIDS of its previous director, the conductor Christopher Keene." Now, in a miraculous turnaround, the debt is gone, and the company's artistic purpose is clear. New York Times 05/16/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Monday May 15

  • CANARY IN THE COAL MINE: There's evidence that the internet music revolution will affect classical music sooner than it does more mainstream genres. The little stores specializing in particular genres are having a hard time. "A master track can be held in a central store; copies made only as required. Libraries no longer need specialist retailers: they can e-mail their orders to record companies directly and get a disc (copied to whatever digital format required) by return. No more need to search for out-of-print back-catalogue. Everything can be held as digital information, ready for duplication, at a record company's own central store." The Scotsman 05/15/00
  • TRYING TOO HARD TO GET ALONG: Is Napster going too far in trying to avoid legal troubles? A backlash against the company is developing among its fans. "Napster is fighting against censorship, but they are trying to censor everybody else." Wired 05/15/00
  • LOOKING OUT FROM THE INSIDE: Last week Napster capitulated to heavy-metallers Metallica by yanking the accounts of its users accused of downloading Metallica music illegally. But if the outsider music downloader gives up too much, it'll lose its rebel outsider status - and its fans. Wired 05/15/00

Sunday May 14

  • ET TU KRZYSZTOF? Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki was one of the more adventurous and radical composers of the 20th Century. Now he's written a piece that sounds like it could be Mahler or Brahms. "It is, though, a curious state of affairs when the composer who, more than any other, was identified with that scandalous way of writing should become the one who most saliently repudiates it." Sunday Times (London) 05/14/00

  • BRAGGING RIGHTS: International tours are expensive for orchestras. Though they may seem glamorous, there's some serious business going on. "International, highly rated orchestras travel and play in great halls and great places. If you are playing in Musikverein [in Vienna] or Amsterdam [Het Concertgebouw], this is the cream of the music world. If the orchestra is invited, it speaks that the orchestra is of great quality, because a not-great orchestra wouldn't play in the Musikverein." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 05/14/00

  • DIGITAL RETREAT: In the face of court challenges over copyright, Napster and MP3.com take a step back. The battle's just beginning over the future of selling recorded music. Philadelphia Inquirer (Bloomberg) 05/14/00


Friday May 12

  • FIRST RING: A big $5.5 million funding boost from the federal government has enabled Adelaide's South Australian State Opera company to announce plans for Australia's first-ever homegrown production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. "We are doing it one-off, the whole thing, so it is a massive undertaking."The Age (Melbourne) 05/11/00
  • CD PRICES will likely begin to fall now that the FTC has banned minimum-pricing laws. Minimum pricing rules were enacted several years ago because "mammoth discount chains such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Circuit City were selling CDs at prices lower than those found at music-specialty retail chains such as Music-land and Tower Records." Independents say doing away with the rules will hurt them. Variety 05/11/00
  • BIG BROTHER IS LISTENING:Remember last week when Metallica presented the names of some 300,000 people it says had illegally downloaded the band's music? Yesterday Napster terminated the accounts of all those on the list. Look for the lawsuits to start flying. Wired 05/11/00
    • GOOD FAITH GESTURE: After losing its copyright case over music downloading last month, MP3.com says it will remove major-label music from its site. The company is said to be negotiating with recording companies over a million-dollar settlement. Boston Globe 05/11/00

Thursday May 11

  • THE THEME OF THINGS TO COME: There was a time when orchestras programs looked like smorgasbord menus - a little of this, a little of that - you got yer meat, you got yer potatoes, and let's not forget the veggies. Now, the marketing people need a good hook. Everything's got to have a theme. "Anything but a trendy caprice, theme programming is widely perceived as an answer to numerous ills in the performing arts." Philadelphia Inquirer 05/10/00
  • KILLING THEM SOFTLY WITH HER (POP) SONG: Hip-hop diva Lauryn Hill is embroiled in a lawsuit with four songwriters who charge they did not receive proper credit for their contributions to her album. "She will be asked, under oath, a simple question: Who wrote those songs? But just beneath that question is a far more elusive one: What is a pop song, anyway?” Salon 05/10/00
  • "JOY"FUL SILENCE: Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" was greeted with complete silence at Sunday's concert in the former Mauthausen concentration camp. "No concert in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic has been discussed as intensively. The debate about whether this concert should go ahead in Austria's new political situation, has absorbed Vienna for weeks, and was still at full tilt in Austria's weekend newspapers. Televised live around the country, the Mauthausen memorial was not so much a concert, more a journey of the Austrian soul." The Guardian 05/10/00

May 9

  • ANY PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY: The controversy over the legality and ethics of downloading music over the internet has helped spur a surge in traffic to the sites. Recent net ratings indicate traffic has jumped from 20-52 percent at popular MP3 download sites. The Times of India (AP) 05/08/00 

  • TWENTY YEARS IN THE MAKING: A new Grove's Dictionary of Music - the definitive music resource - is due out later this year. And it's big: 25 million words, 29,000 articles, 20,000 biographies in 29 volumes (nine more than the previous 1980 edition). Some 6000 scholars in 98 countries contributed, and a staff of 60 at Macmillans in London has been laboring away to meet the publishing deadline. The Age (Melbourne) 05/08/00

  • TRUNCATED FAREWELL: In front of an all-star audience (including the Three Tenors) tenor Carlo Bergonzi pulled out of the middle of his farewell performance, a concert version of Verdi's "Otello." The 75-year-old tenor's voice sounded weak, and he reportedly looked ashen during the performance. He pulled out after the second act. CBC 05/08/00 

Due to technical difficulties, music archives from the first week of May are unavailable.


Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2003 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved