Posted inBreaking

In Between Worlds

“I don’t know if there is a creator, but if he exists, all I could do is tip my hat to him and say, ‘Thank you,’” pianist and conductor Lars Vogt told me in May 2021, when we spoke shortly after his cancer diagnosis. Vogt died on Monday in a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, surrounded […]

Posted inInterview

The Never-Ending Task

After 19 years leading the Minnesota Orchestra, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä will be saying goodbye this month, with performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 from June 10 to 12 and a “farewell celebration” on June 17. His tenure with the orchestra—and especially the recordings he’s made with the group—have been almost universally acclaimed: It took […]

Posted inInterview

Pact with the Dictator

In the summer of 2009, Valery Gergiev organized an exhibition in St. Petersburg called “Wilhelm Furtwängler: Maestro, Man, and Myth” as part of the White Nights Festival. At the opening, Gergiev gave a speech noting that Furtwängler had been attacked all his life because of his biography, yet “he served a great cause with all […]

Posted inInterview

The Desire to be Human

Andreas Scholl is one of the best-known German countertenors. His popstar potential can be measured by the fact that he was the first countertenor to be a guest at Last night of the Proms and on a few late-night talk shows. He’s played a key role in shaping the countertenor renaissance of the last 30 […]

Posted inReport

The Maestro’s ATM

On April 12, the website of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny released an investigation into the hidden international wealth of conductor and Putin confidant Valery Gergiev. The report is the latest in a series authored by Navalny’s team which, as the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project notes, do not constitute neutral journalism—a video […]

Posted inInterview

Hit Me in the Belly

On March 18, the trumpet player Håkan Hardenberger celebrated his 60th birthday with a concert with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he performed Brett Dean’s trumpet concerto “Dramatis personae,” and smiled gamely (and sipped champagne) through an encore rendition of the theme from “Superman” in his honor. (Disclosure: As with my recent interview with […]

Posted inInterview

Renaissance State

A few weeks ago, I traveled to Stockholm to speak with English conductor Daniel Harding and hear a rehearsal and concert with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, which Harding has led since 2007. (Disclosure: The orchestra covered my flights and hotel for the trip.) Harding and I had lunch together at a restaurant so fancy […]

Posted inInterview

The Danger of Silence

This month, conductor Vitali Alekseenok was slated to conduct concerts in Lviv, Dnipro, and Kyiv, as well as open the Kharkiv Music Festival as its new artistic director. Instead, four days after the beginning of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, he and his girlfriend drove two trucks full of aid supplies eight and a half hours […]

Posted inOpinion

Taking Gergiev at His Word

Last week, Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, sent an open letter to Valery Gergiev, the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. Reiter told Gergiev he had until February 28 to distance himself from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If Gergiev declined, his contract with the orchestra would be terminated. Some commentators, on social media […]

Posted inReport

For Better, For Worse

At the beginning of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage,” we meet Marianne and Johan, a couple being interviewed for a magazine story about successful relationships. In the next scene, Marianne asks Johan, “Do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?” “It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from God knows where,” he answers.“A […]

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