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 […]
Author Archives: Hartmut Welscher
... earned degrees in development studies, Asian studies, and cultural anthropology from universities in Berlin, Seoul, Edinburgh, and London. He is a founder of VAN, where he serves as publisher and editor-in-chief.
The Titan’s Shadow
Daniel Barenboim is a great musician and humanist. So why are so many people afraid of him?
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 […]
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 […]
Simon Rattle grits his teeth and flares his nostrils. He raises his silver eyebrows, opens his mouth in vowel shapes, closes his eyes again in an ecstatic expression, bounces his baton off the air. These are his ways of expressing how the music makes him feel. They are also the tics that bother some of […]
Who’s Afraid Of Daniel Hope?
Yes, we’ve seen the video. Over the last few days, the classical music media has become aware of a small but telling scandal. A Berlin-based concert curator, dramaturg, and VAN contributor named Arno Lücker published a shred on his blog. The video, part of a mashup genre in which new audio tracks are added to […]
The End Is Pleasure
The pianist Kirill Gerstein is something of an insider’s tip. Despite the glossy magazine covers and ever-changing artist flavors of the month in classical music, the concert reality is closer to a bit of Alfred “Adi” Preissler’s soccer wisdom: “It’s what happens on the pitch that counts.” And it’s there that Gerstein is a regular: […]
In Three Dimensions
Some art works live off the music of Bach like parasites. They sample him, stage him, ritualize him, dance to him—and often end up sucking the original work dry of its life blood. These semi-new works rarely hold their own in the face of the original. Instead they are banal, merely decorative, or kitsch. But […]
Unsuk Chin’s new work “Chorós Chordón” will be premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle tomorrow, November 3. In advance of the concert, we spoke with her about Ligeti’s tough side, the Korean new music scene, and glamor in classical music. VAN: How do you deal with loneliness, self-doubt, and frustration in your work? […]
I met Jakub Hrůša on a warm April weekend in Bamberg, Germany. In the fall of 2016, he was named the fifth music director of the Bamberger Symphoniker, an orchestra deeply rooted in the Czech tradition. For this interview, I asked him to select some of his favorite pieces from that tradition, and then discussed […]