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How to Eat

One chapter in Virgil Thomson’s 1939 book, The State of Music, is titled “How Composers Eat, or Who Does What to Whom and Who Gets Paid.” Thomson identified the subsequent means both clearly and derisively: “A surprisingly large number of composers are men of private fortune… the number of those who have married their money […]

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temporarily unavailable

Leigh Mesh is associate principal bass at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. His wife Nancy Wu is associate concertmaster. They’ve been playing in the orchestra for a combined 58 years, and have both been making do without their regular incomes since March 31. On June 1, in the New York Times, the Met announced its earliest […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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“Oh Yeah, He Does That”

As Laura* was beginning a career in artist management at a major London agency, she had to balance the new, 24-hour commitment with a personal issue: being stalked online by the friend of a friend. When she eventually went to the police, they told her to remove photos from social media and keep a “quiet” […]

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Tacet Acceptance

In 2012, I embarked on a study of the classical music profession in the UK and Germany. I was interested in learning what it is like to work as a musician, the ups and downs of the profession, and how musicians deal with the often precarious nature of their work. Another issue that I wanted […]

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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 […]

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Finite Measures

In our last issue, VAN published Elena Cheah’s honest audition diary. The process is critical for professional musicians, but can also leave them discouraged about their career prospects or disconnected from their art form. For this follow-up article, we spoke with Dr. Joanne Loewy, director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at […]