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Reading Dvorak`s 7th

Reading Dvořák's 7thAntonín Dvořák wrote his Symphony No. 7 in d minor in late 1884 and early 1885, on a commission from the London Philharmonic. It is a great masterpiece of the Romantic symphony: full of passion and drama and its Czech composer's nationalistic fervor, balanced with a mastery of form and an economy of material that raise it above many symphonies of its time. Strangely, it has long lingered in the shadow of the symphonies of Brahms, though it is the equal of any of them, and of Dvořák's later symphonies, though it is arguably better than they.

 Too many people are unfamiliar with this work, apart from the theoretical existence of a predecessor to the Eighth Symphony. I think recent years have ...

Wait A Minute - Just How Was That Stradivarius Test Performed?

I read with interest the article in today's Guardian about the blind testing of Stradivarius violins versus modern violins, from which the modern instruments emerged victorious. There are many aspects to this story. First, it is true that modern makers do tend to be underpaid and under-appreciated; there are definitely many wonderful luthiers working today, whose instruments are finely crafted and deeply satisfying to play. A surprising number of famous string-players opt to perform on modern instruments, even when they own fine old Italian ones; their audiences rarely notice.
 On the other hand, the report of this test leaves too many questions unanswered. Perhaps it is not widely known just how important the set-up of a violin (o...

Double-Blind Violin Test: Can You Pick The Strad?

In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren't so different after all.
 OK, here's a test. Clip one is a musical phrase from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major. Clip two is the same phrase. The same musician plays both. But one is on a Stradivarius violin, the other on a violin made in 1980. See if you can tell the difference.
 It's a tough choice. But a professional violinist could tell the difference, right?
 Well, a research team recently tried to fin...

Oregon Symphony drops membership in League of American Orchestras

The Oregon Symphony has dropped its membership in the League of American Orchestras, said Elaine Calder, the orchestra's president. At an annual cost of $17,000, the benefits of membership were not worth the expense, she said. 
 It’s another example of an orchestra cutting expenses because of decreasing revenue from ticket sales and donations. In recent years, the Oregon Symphony has trimmed staff, reduced the number of musicians and cut salaries in order to balance its budget. 
 The League is an industry organization that shares information, puts on conferences, informs members about activities and publishes Symphony magazine. About 850 orchestras in North America belong to the League, from the Big Five ...

Australian Chamber Orchestra Plans Surfing-And-Music Tour

Surfing and dance animate the Australian Chamber Orchestra 2012 program, with a spectacular multi-media exploration of the North-West coast and an innovative reinterpretation of baroque dance by the Sydney Dance Company sending shock waves rippling across one of this innovative chamber orchestra's most exciting seasons to date.

"It's not about everything in a season interacts; it's about how they contrast," says ACO director Richard Tognetti on the phone as, always on the go, he sits in a taxi en route to the Adelaide airport. "It's like curating an exhibition in an art gallery - it's about va...


University Takeover Of Theatre Relieves Strained Missouri Symphony

COLUMBIA — MU and the Missouri Symphony Society reached a deal Thursday afternoon on the short-term future of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.

 MU will lease and manage the theater, 203 S. Ninth St., for three years with an option to buy it after that time for $3.7 million, according to an MU News Bureau release.
 MU will lease the theater for $12,000 per month, paid from the university's campus rental account, which is used to purchase space for campus needs, the release stated.

 Negotiations have been in the works for several months, said Carole Sue DeLaite, co-president of the Missouri Symphony Society.

 John Mur...

Surprise: Sales Of Classical Music CDs Rise

Looking at the classical CD business in 2011, some may wonder whether there still is a classical CD business.

The major labels -- Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner Music Group -- are mostly shooting out reissues these days. The demise of the Tower Records chain in fall 2006 hit classical labels hardest of all, for Tower was the primary showcase for their deep catalog product. The early-2000s attempt to juice up sales with the competing hi-def, multi-channel audio formats DVD-A and Super Audio CD (SACD) never caught on with most classical customers, let alone the mass market, alth...


Coming to Theaters Soon: Mozart's Sister

A few weeks from now, Mozart's Sister will begin its limited release in various cities across the US. This historical fiction portrays the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's older sister, Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart, who once was the family's shining star.  When Nannerl becomes an appropriate age to marry, her father, Leopold, forces her to quit performing and composing. However, after meeting the son and daughter of Louis XV, their friendship encourages Nannerl to continue her musical artistry through unconventional means. 
 Though the film is a combination of fact and fiction, it looks to be a rather promising portrayal. And, paired with Mozart's music, those of you living near the selected cities the film will be shown,...

Virtuosos Becoming a Dime a Dozen

By Anthony Tommasini

This phenomenon should be seen in historical context. The first several decades of the 20th century are considered a golden era by many piano buffs, a time when artistic imagination and musical richness were valued more tha...


Collection Of Rare Valuable Violins Goes Missing

A priceless collection of violins stored with the world's biggest violin dealer has vanished after he was arrested for fiddling the books.
Dietmar Machold lived in a castle in Austria and owned a Rolls Royce Corniche and a VW Phaeton - travelling the world with his schoolteacher wife buying up rare violins.
 His company Machold Rare Violins has been in the family five generations since it was founded in 1861 in Germany as a violin manufacturer.
 But he fled Castle Eichbüchl at Katzelsdorf in Austria to Switzerland after he filed for bankruptcy and prosecutors announced they were investigating him for fraud.
 He was arrested in Switzerland in March and is awaiting extradition back to Austria ...

The YouTube Symphony's Techno-Jungle

MUSIC YouTube Symphony Orchestra Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, March 20.

IN the words of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra's conductor and artistic adviser Michael Tilson Thomas, this was no ordinary concert. The "Grand Finale" at the Sydney Opera House was the culmination of an intensive week of rehearsa...


Classical Grammys 2011

Dark Horses And Indie Labels: An Eclectic Mix At The Classical Grammys

Complete Clas...


Romantic Recrimination: Mozart's 'Così Fan Tutte'

In 1989, Madonna released the hit single "Express Yourself," a song urging girls to "put your love to the test" by forcing guys to vent their true feelings, saying, "then you'll know your love is real." Exactly 200 years earlier, W. A. Mozart&nbs...


Detroit Symphony Cancels Season After Musicians Reject Offer

The crisis surrounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike hit a new peak Saturday, increasing the possibility that the financially crippled orchestra may not play a single note of music this season.

The m...


Ben Heppner quits Metropolitan Opera's 'Ring' cycle production

The Metropolitan Opera in New York has lost its Siegfried for its costly new production of Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle. The company said in a release Tuesday that heldentenor Ben Heppner has withdrawn from the production because the singer "has retired the role from his repertory."

Heppner's cast...


So What Now? Chicago Symphony Ponders Another Long Muti Absence

So where does the Chicago Symphony Orchestra go from here?



More Woe for Detroit Symphony: Bank Calls In $54M Loan

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has a bigger problem than the 18-week-old strike that has marred the classical music season, alienated donors and disappointed subscribers.

The orchestra's lenders, in an ominous turn, repaid the orch...


The Dude Abides: Gustavo Dudamel Extends LA Phil Contract to 2019

The Dude will be sticking around Los Angeles for...


CSO director Muti collapses at rehearsal

Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti is hospitalized but in no immediate danger, according to a CSO spokeswoman, after he fainted during a rehearsal with the orchestra early Thursday afternoon at Symphony Center. He suffered a gash near his jaw from collapsing on the podium.

 "He is stable and talking," said CSO Association President Deborah Rutter late Thursday by phone from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where the 69-year-old Muti was rushed after suffering a fainting spell while preparing the first subscription program of his winter residency with the CSO. He was eased into a chair while paramedics were being called, said orchestra members. 

 Rutter said Thurs...

James Levine's Four Decades Of Orchestra-Building

AS if to make up for his reduced presence there, the Metropolitan Opera has favored us with two giant boxed sets, of 32 CDs and 21 DVDs, in celebration of James Levine’s 40 years with the com...


The secret torments of Emil Gilels

I have received a short memoir of the great Soviet pianist from the Israeli conductor, Uri Segal. Unlike his great rival, Sviatoslav Richter, little is known of Gilels (1916-85) outside of the official version - that he was a loyal servant of the system. Segal adds a personal dimension: 
 It was in 1982, in Helsingborg, Sweden that I had the great fortune of collaborating with Emil Gilels, conducting Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Nº1 in Bb minor for him. This encounter which turned to be a memorable one for me in more then one way, was a "miracle" in itself:
  At that time no Soviet musician was allowed by the Soviet régime to perform with Israeli colleagues, and so the collaboration between Mr. Gilels and m...