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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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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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In The Machinery

At 10 o’clock on the morning of July 7, 2020, five uniformed police officers rang the doorbell of an apartment in the southwestern German city of Karlsruhe. Erik Maurer (not his real name) answered the door. The police showed him their warrant and began seizing computers, cell phones, and storage drives. “At the beginning I […]

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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 […]

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Winner Takes All

Title Image National Institutes of Health (Public domain) 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 […]

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The Antidote

A Profile of Andrew Manze By · Photography © NDR / Krueckeberg · Date 5/9/2019 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 […]

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The Titan’s Shadow

Title Image (EDITED: 8.2.19, 15:15 H) UN GENEVA / UN PHOTO / JEAN-MARC FERRÉ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) This time Daniel Barenboim was furious because a musician tried to give him flowers. It was July 2018, after a guest performance with his orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, in Buenos Aires. Traditionally, a member of the orchestra presents […]

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Look To The Future

An Interview with Jiatong Wu By Hartmut Welscher · Title Image VERA & JEAN-CHRISTOPHE (CC BY-SA 2.0) · Date 12/20/2018 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 […]

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Simon Said

Photography Jeffrey Arlo Brown 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 […]