Posted inInterview

Walking the Path

In 2016, pianist Martin Helmchen took a step which many threaten but few follow through on: He left Berlin for the surrounding countryside of Brandenburg, his four daughters in tow. His new home is close to the town of Luckau, between the German capital and Dresden, where his wife, cellist Marie-Elisabeth Hecker, is a professor […]

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Not Only Art, But a Human Right

Under Taliban rule (1996-2001), instrumental music and public performance in Afghanistan were almost totally banned. Instruments that were discovered by the Taliban’s morality police were destroyed; sometimes publicly burned or “hanged” along with confiscated audio and video cassettes, televisions, and camcorders. Only the singing of certain religious songs and unaccompanied hymns of praise to the […]

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Objective and Inner Realities

Last August, conductor Vitali Alekseenok flew from his home in Germany (where he divides his time between Weimar and Munich) to his native Belarus. There, he took part in both the national elections and the subsequent protests against the government of Alexander G. Lukashenko.  Despite the brutal police violence he witnessed, Alekseenok wrote in an […]

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The Time Remaining

On March 25, pianist Lars Vogt wrote on Twitter: “Today: fight against cancer, round 2 (chemo). Keep your fingers crossed for me…” A month and a half later, he’s made it to the cusp of round five. “Another six months like this, until October, 12 rounds in total, as long as my body holds up. […]

Posted inReport

The Elephant in the Room

On January 17, 2021, Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny boarded a flight from Berlin to Moscow, where he was arrested immediately upon landing. The previous evening, in Munich, Valery Gergiev conducted a performance of Brahms’s Double Concerto and Symphony No. 3 in Munich. The following Saturday—while the concert streamed online—hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in […]

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Input

Look through older interviews with violinist Julia Fischer, and you’ll find a disturbing mix of chauvinism and sleaze: “A desirable German export with doe eyes and blond, angelic hair”; “young, sexy, and classical”; “ready for the runway.” One television anchor says she has the “looks, talent, and intelligence of a superwoman,” only to ask her […]

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Fighting Windmills

The doors of the Berlin Philharmonic closed to the public on March 11, 2020. They won’t open again this season, making the coronavirus closure the Berlin Philharmonic’s longest break in its 138-year history. Instead of the musicians, it’s the construction workers who now have the run of the house, with improvements taking place on the […]

Posted inOpinion

Winner Takes All

A bit of Beethoven here, a recital there—that doesn’t interest me,” the pianist Igor Levit said five years ago. Instead he wanted to become a thought leader, like Bob Dylan. Levit was reading Greil Marcus’s Like a Rolling Stone. “People like [Dylan] didn’t see music as a separate reality,” Levit told me. “They arrived on […]