La Scena Musicale

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: July 13 (Bergonzi)

1924 - Carlo Bergonzi, Vidalenzo, Italy; opera tenor


Carlo Bergonzi sings:

(at age 65) "Una furtiva lagrima" from Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore (Newark. N.J., 1989)

"Ah si ben mio" from Verdi's Il Trovatore (Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, 1969)

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Today's Birthdays in Music: July 12 (Cliburn, Flagstad)

1934 - Van Cliburn, Shreveport, U.S.A.; pianist

Dallas Morning News article (2008)

Van Cliburn plays Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, 2nd mvt., Kirill Kondrashin conducting (Moscow, 1962)

1895 - Kirsten Flagstad, Hamar, Norway; opera soprano

Short biography and pictures

Kirsten Flagstad sings "Liebestod" from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (her debut performance at Covent Garden, 1936; Fritz Reiner conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 11 (Boyd, Gedda, Prey)

1949 - Liona Boyd, London, England; guitarist

Official website

Liona Boyd in concert

1925 - Nicolai Gedda, Stockholm, Sweden; opera tenor

Short biography and pictures

Nicolai Gedda as Chapelau (singing in German) in Adolph Adam's Le postillon de Lonjumeau

1929 - Hermann Prey, Berlin, Germany; opera bass-baritone

Short biography and pictures

Hermann Prey as Don Carlo singing in German "Son Pereda" from Verdi's La Forza del Destino

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 10 (Orff, Welitsch)

1895 - Carl Orff, Munich, Germany; composer

Orff-Zentrum München website

John van Kesteren sings "Und Sie Brachten" from Orff's opera Der Mond (Munich, 1965)

"O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana (BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, Cardiff, 1994)

1913 - Ljuba Welitsch, Borissovo, Bulgaria; opera soprano


Ljuba Welitsch sings "Wie nahte mir der Schlummer ... Leise, leise ..." from Weber's Der Freischütz

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today's Birthday in Music: July 9 (Respighi)

1879 - Ottorino Respighi, Bologna, Italy; composer, violinist

Short biography & pictures
Various articles

The Pines of Rome (1. "Pines of the Villa Borghese"; 2." Pines near a Catacomb"); Orchestra dell'Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conductor Antonio Pappano.  Rome, January 2007)

Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3 ("Italiana" and "Siciliana") - paintings by Caravaggio

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 8 (Grainger, Antheil)

1882 - Percy Grainger, Melbourne, Australia; composer, pianist

Official website

Percy Grainger plays his own composition Country Gardens (piano roll)

1900 - George Antheil, Trenton, U.S.A.; composer, pianist

Wikipedia (mis-states birthdate as June 8)

Ballet Mécanique (all-robotic version), played at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2006

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 7 (Mahler, Menotti)

1860 - Gustav Mahler, Kaliště, Bohemia (Czech Republic); composer, conductor

Wik entry
Gustav Mahler Society
Biography and more

Thomas Hampson sings "Die zwei blauen Augen von meinem Schatz", No. 4 from Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) (Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein)

Symphony No. 5, 1st mvt. "Trauermarsch" (Cologne Philharmonic, conducted by James Conlon)

1911 - Gian Carlo Menotti, Cadegliano, Italy; composer, librettist

Wiki entry

Gian Carlo Menotti - A Composer's Life in Two Worlds

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

All that glitters is not Gelb

A statement by Peter Gelb to the Economist has set alarm bells ringing.

At his former job, as head of Sony Classical, Gelb used to deliver hour-long harangues about how his genius would rescue the label and the recording industry as a whole. By the time he quit, Sony was a shambles and the industry near-dead. For the detail, see here.

Now read Gelb in The Economist: 'When I took over, the Met was on a declining slope toward extermination...' He does not finish the sentence, but the implication is that golden man has once more revived a dying goose.

This is pure fantasy. The Met, with an endowment running into hundreds of millions of dollars, was never at death's door, let alone an emotive threat of 'extermination'. It just needed a blast of fresh air after a decade of stagnation.

What Gelb has done - introducing new repertoire, new directors, opera at the movies and in the open air - has been highly effective and long overdue, but no more than the start of what needs to be a coherent strategy to make opera meaningful to a wider American public. Let's hope the strategy is in place, because without it Gelb's reforms will soon go stale and in a couple of years the Met will be right back in the state he found it.

I, for one, very much hope that there is depth and breadth to the Gelb plan because I like to see success in the arts more than I enjoy criticising failure. But this latest boast, echoing the hollow claims of his Sony years, has me worried.

Hubris is a sign that a leader has peaked. What follows is nemesis. Peter Gelb needs to take care that he does not let himself believe a myth of his own making.

Source: Artsjournal

Today's Birthdays in Music: July 6 (Ashkenazy, H. Eisler)

1937 - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gorky, Russia; pianist, conductor

Wiki entry
Biography and more

Ashkenazy plays  Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1, 3rd mvt. (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini conducting)

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12, 3rd mvt.; Vladimiar Ashkenazy, pianist, conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from the keyboard

1898 - Hanns Eisler, Leipzig, Germany; composer

Wiki entry

"An den kleinen Radioapparat", music by Hanns Eisler, lyrics by Berthold Brecht.  Sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Aribert Reimann, piano (Berlin, 1987)

Hanns Eisler, Nonett No.1, Variationen (1939), played by Quadrivium Ensemble, Dan Rapoport conducting (Venice, 2005)

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