Posted inReport

The Broken Musician

“It was impossible for me to tell people, ‘Speak louder, shout, because I am deaf.’  Oh, how could I possibly admit a weakness in the one sense which should be more perfect in me than in others.” Beethoven, Heiligenstadt Testament, 1802 Musicians expire. For some lucky members of the profession, the musical expiry coincides with […]

Posted inReport

Doctor Baton

In pop culture, there are usually two ways of looking at the conductor’s baton. One way is as the focal point of his or her authority and magic: as Bernstein said, the stick as a “an instrument of meaning in its tiniest moment.” The other way is as a symbol of the conductor’s pretension and […]

Posted inReport

Outsourced Scores

The full score of Miroslav Snrka’s opera “South Pole,” which premiered this winter at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, is 1,000 pages long. Each of its two volumes weighs over eight pounds. The parts for 77 unique voices add up to close to 3,000 pages.    Every composer knows how frustrating and time-consuming the preparation […]

Posted inReport

Music for a New World

Technology is changing the recorded music business, as it is changing all businesses. 10 years ago, music piracy was seen as the great threat to the future of music. It’s since been largely replaced by music streaming—in the minds of many musicians, not much of an improvement. For classical musicians in particular, this seems a […]

Posted inReport

Authoritarian El Sistema

El Sistema, the Venezuelan youth orchestra program spearheaded by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, was created in 1975. It was the orchestra’s Proms debut in 2007, however, that cemented El Sistema’s place on the global stage, with Simon Rattle claiming that it was “the most important thing happening in music anywhere in […]

Posted inReport

On Quitting

Some years from now, you might find yourself looking back on a former hobby or pastime, something you’ve long since ceased, with nostalgia—maybe with a pang of regret. This happens to most of us at some point in our lives, that bodiless longing for the passions or diversions we used to keep. And at this […]

Posted inReport

Wind

There’s something about an annoying office job that makes you idealize working with your hands, even if you have—like me—no aptitude for it at all. Last winter, I applied for an apprenticeship at the organ builder Orgelbau Scheffler, in the tiny, former East German village of Sieversdorf, outside Berlin, with a romantic idea of learning […]