News of the Classical World January 9-13

A collection of classical news stories for the week of January 9th, 2012

January 9th, 2012

Kim Novak lashes out at ‘The Artist’ filmmakers for using ‘Vertigo’ score

The 78-year-old actress said in a statement released Monday that the filmmakers of the French black-and-white homage to silent film had no reason “to depend on Bernard Herrmann’s score from Vertigo to provide more drama.”

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January 10th, 2012

Alexis Weissenberg, Pianist of Fire and Ice, Dies at 82

Renowned pianist Alexis Weissenberg died at the age of 82 on Sunday. The New York Times takes a look at the life and times of Weissenberg.

Mr. Weissenberg’s cool yet blazing approach divided reviewers. Where some heard impeccable technique, others heard soulless efficiency. Where some embraced the drama of his interpretations, others condemned them for aggressiveness.

On these points, however, nearly everyone agreed:

Mr. Weissenberg possessed a technical prowess rivaled by few other pianists. The ice of his demeanor at the keyboard (he sat, leaned forward and got down to business, playing with scarcely a smile or grimace) was matched by the fire that came off the keys. He could play very fast, and very loud. (Over time, verbs used to characterize his pianism included “barrel,” “tear,” “thunder” and “let loose.”)
(The New York Times)

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January 11th, 2012

Trash collection and classical music in Taiwan

In an initiative to keep garbages off the streets of Taiwan, people are asked to bring their trash (and recycling and food waste) out to the garbage collectors rather than leaving it on the curb. To alert citizens that the truck is nearby, they play classical music out of loud speakers.

On the tightly packed East Asian island nation, garbage trucks, like ice cream vans, are equipped with speakers that play music — popular tunes include Beethoven’s “Für Elise” and Tekla Bądarzewska-Baranowska’s “A Maiden’s Prayer” — alerting citizens that trash time est arrivé.

Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration came up with the musical garbage truck scheme to eliminate the vermin and odors that plagued the country’s designated outdoor public trash disposal areas. Under the revised waste disposal plan, when Taiwanese citizens hear the garbage trucks a comin’, they head outside to the street to “hand deliver” household waste (one bag for trash and one bag for recycling) to sanitation workers.
(The Huffington Post)

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January 12th, 2012

What is American Opera?

With the Washington National Opera recently pledging to support the creation of new American operas, Anne Widget of the Washington Post asks what is American opera?

These ideas about American opera continue to emerge and spotlight the mixed motivations and understandings that companies have about creating new work. On the one hand, you want to keep the art form alive and vital. On the other, new work is often seen as a way of reaching new audiences — even as opera houses bewail the fact that it’s harder to sell tickets to an unfamiliar contemporary production. The idea is that people who haven’t been to the opera before, particularly younger people, will come out to see a new piece; “it will be more interesting to a younger audience,” Scheppelmann says.
(The Washington Post)

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January 13th, 2012

Newly discovered Brahms piece

A newly discovered piece by Brahms will be broadcast on BBC 3 later this month.

Albumblatt, written in 1853 when the composer was aged 20, and lasting just two minutes, was discovered by conductor, musicologist and keyboard player Christopher Hogwood in an American archive. There’s an interesting link to another piece written by Brahms 12 years later – the work features a theme used in the second movement of the Horn Trio.

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