Posted inInterview

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 […]

Posted inReport

Conductivity

Around 11:20 on the morning of Saturday March 17, 2018, Laura Eisen, the orchestral manager of the Staatskapelle Berlin, visited Daniel Barenboim in his dressing room, which looks out onto the imposing Bebelplatz. She planned to discuss a personnel change, in the flutes, for an upcoming rehearsal of Verdi’s opera “Falstaff.” According to a statement […]

Posted inProfile

The Antidote

At the end of our conversation, Andrew Manze says something puzzling. We’ve been speaking for nearly two hours, about Brahms, Bruckner, Brexit, orchestral honeymoons and the right time for a conductor to say goodbye; about tempi, literature, and how to nourish the imagination. Manze is a maestro, but our conversation is an antidote to the […]

Posted inReport

Sunken Costs

In 2015, the Italian pianist Marco Sanna and his duo partner saw on Facebook that an artist management company called Xenia Evangelista Communications was signing new performers. They sent the company an application, including a cover letter and a CD, in the mail. Soon after, Evangelista, who is based in Munich, emailed the duo expressing […]

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The Elephant In The Opera

On Monday, the Staatsoper Berlin announced its 2019-20 program. Aside from a few potential highlights—René Jacobs leading Scarlatti and a new ballet by Georg Friedrich Haas—the programming reads like a parody of a conservative orchestra season, featuring yet another Beethoven cycle, Brahms cycle, and “Ring.” The soloists are of high quality, but belong firmly to […]

Posted inInterview

Look To The Future

In 2005, Simon Rattle went on a tour of East Asia with the Berlin Philharmonic and predicted that the future of classical music was in China. It remained unclear exactly what kind of future he had in mind. Was he most impressed by the huge market for CDs and merchandise, an unprecedented number of potential […]

Posted inReport

Rules of Engagement

In Wieland Hoban’s composition “Hora’ot Pticha Be’esh (Rules of Engagement I),” from 2013-14, we hear distorted microtones, low glissandi, plucking, instrumental squealing. This music accompanies testimony by a Sergeant First Class in the Armored Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, in the winter of 2008-9. The soldier speaks in […]

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