La Scena Musicale

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: June 14 (Lang Lang, McCormack)

1982 - Lang Lang, Shenyang, China; pianist

Wiki entry
Official website

Lang Lang plays Chopin's Grande Waltz brillante Op. 34, No. 1

1884 - John McCormack, Athlone, Ireland; opera and concert tenor

Wiki entry
Biography & pictures

John McCormack sings:

"Il Mio Tesoro" from Mozart's Don Giovanni (1916)

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" (1916)

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: June 13 (E. Schumann, Trudel)

1888 - Elisabeth Schumann, Merseburg, Germany; opera, oratorio and lieder soprano

Elisabeth Schumann website
Short biography

Elisabeth Schumann sings (in German) "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (1920 recording)

1966 - Alain Trudel, Montreal, Canada; conductor and trombonist

Alain Trudel Homepage

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: June 12 (Knussen, Marcoux)

1952 - Oliver Knussen, Glasgow, Scotland; composer and conductor

Wiki entry
Biography & interview

1877 - Vanni Marcoux, Turin, Italy; opera bass-baritone

Wiki entry
Biography & pictures

Vanni Marcoux sings "Vous êtes si jolie" (1932)

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Lead from L. A.

I left the door a foot open in my previous submission for others to nominate the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a pioneer of orchestral courage and adventure - and up she pops in the first three responses.

I couldn't be more enthusiastic about LA's choice of young, fairly inexperienced conductors - Salonen, and now Dudamel - in preference to the greying Europeans of the East Coast. But one might argue that L.A. is an exception that proves the rule. In a city where movies are dominant, symphonic music has to fight for every crumb of attention. Youth - Hollywood's elixir - is one way to catch the eye.

I once asked Ernest Fleischmann while he managed the LA Phil if there was any interface between his company and the dream factories. He thought for a long while before replying, 'well, Walter Matthau's a subscriber...'

As for Jason's suggestion that 'it doesn't pay to ignore internal and external dissension when assessing the merits of music directors', if that were the case Mahler would never have been boss in Vienna, nor Solti at Covent Garden, nor Boulez at the NY Phil, and the musical horizon would be coloured a uniform shade of grey.

Source: Artsjournal


Today's Birthdays in Music: June 11 (R. Strauss, Floyd)

1864 - Richard Strauss, Munich, Germany; composer and conductor

Wiki entry

Anne Howells (Octavian) and Barbara Bonney (Sophie) sing 'Mir ist die Ehre widerfahren' (The Presentation of the Rose scene) from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier (Royal Opera House Covent Garden, 1985)

Alessio Allegrini plays Strauss's Horn Concerto #2 (Filarmonica della Scala, conductor Riccardo Muti, February 1999)

1926 - Carlisle Floyd, Latta, U.S.A.; composer (Susannah)

Wiki entry
Profile (L.A. Times, 2008)

Renée Fleming sings "Ain't it a pretty night" from Susannah (Richard Tucker Gala, 1995)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: June 10 (Herzogenberg)

1843 - Heinrich von Herzogenberg, Graz, Austria; composer and conductor

Wiki entry

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Who dares, wins

No blogs from me for the past six weeks - I've been immersed in a new book.


But the word from Cleveland this weekend deserves a cheer or three, if only for its courage and foresight in an industry noted for its timidity. The Cleveland Orchestra has renewed contracts with music director Franz Welser-Möst for another six years, taking them up to 2019, by which time they will have been together for two full decades.


FW-M is also due to become music director of the Vienna State Opera in two years' time and is in high demand with orchestras on both continents.


So what's so brave about the rehire? It is no secret that Cleveland's chief music critic, Donald Rosenberg, struggles to find a kind word to say about Franz and that several of his colleagues on the NY Times take a comparably sceptical line when the orchestra comes to Carnegie Hall. Such dissent can affect public perceptions, as well as box office sales.


I have known musical organisations to turn chicken when critical opinion went sour on a maestro - check the recent Philadelphia Story (though that's only half the story), or the way English National Opera treated its last two music directors. So all praise to Cleveland for sailing straight ahead and showing two fingers to the malcontents.


FW-M is never going to be to everyone's taste. He has strong ideas about music and likes to get his own way. But there has never been a doubt of his ability to achieve exactly the performance he envisaged, or to maintain and improve the playing wherever he waves a wand. Cleveland, after ten years of Franz, is still by some margin America's finest ensemble - and among its most adventurous, with a stream of new commissions and, in the near future, a season of fully-staged opera .


Which other US orchestra is showing such enterprise and determination?


Go on, name me one.

Source: Artsjournal


Today's Birthdays in Music: June 9 (Cotrubas, Nielsen)

1939 - Ileana Cotrubas, Galati, Romania; opera soprano

Wiki entry

Ileana Cotrubas sings "Addio del passato" from Verdi's La Traviata (1983)

1865 - Carl Nielsen, Odense, Denmark; composer, violinist, conductor

Wiki entry

Symphony No. 4, "The Inextinguishable" 4th mvt. (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vanska conducting)

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Todays Birthdays in Music: June 8 (Schumann, Ax)

1810 - Robert Schumann, Zwickau, Germany; composer and music critic

Wiki entry

Piano Quintet in E flat major, Op. 44, 1st mvt., played by Sviatoslav Richter and the Borodin Quartet

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, accompanied by Gerald Moore, sings "Der Nussbaum"

Horowitz plays "Träumerei" (Moscow, 1986)

1949 - Emanuel Ax, Lvov, Ukraine; pianist

Wiki entry
Official website

Emanuel Ax plays an excerpt from Chopin's Sonata No. 2, Op. 25 ("Marche funèbre")

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