THOUGHTS AND LINKS: Can a composer quote the “Horst Wessel” song in a piece?

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Parts of the music world are abuzz over the decision by the New York Symphony to cancel a performance of a new work, Marsh u Nebuttya, by young Estonian composer Jonas Tarm (the title means March to Oblivion/ in Ukrainian).

Tarm was the latest winner of the orchestra’s “First Music,” composition but when the piece was played last month, an anonymous letter writer (who called him or herself “a Nazi survivor”) objected because the nine-minute work quotes 45 seconds of the Nazi’s infamous “Horst Wessel” song.

Norman Lebrecht, in his “Slipped Disc” Blog, has letters from the composer and the orchestra HERE (the comments are also illuminating). Zachary Woolfe has a thoughtful take in his New York Times HERE. Was the orchestra right to cancel? Not in my book (Woolfe nails the issue perfectly IMHO) but others may disagree.

(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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STORY AND LINK: Baritone Thomas Quasthoff retires at age 52

Norman Lebrecht is reporting on his Blog, Slipped Disc, that Thomas Quasthoff —
one of the great baritones of our generation — has decided to give up singing
at the age of 52 because of “persistent health reasons.” MORE



(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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Cleaning out the inbox, checking out other Blogs, etc.

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily



Orchestral music gets a healthy dose of television
prime-time exposure during the next week with three major programs scheduled on
some local public broadcast stations. They’ll also be streamed on the Web after
the telecasts.


At 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, PBSSoCal (formerly KOCE), will
telecast the “Live from Lincoln Center” New York Philharmonic New Year’s Eve
concert, which features music by George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein under
the baton of Music Director Alan Gilbert. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will be
the soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in
and Concerto in F. The orchestra will also play Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Information:


BTW: Thibaudet will join with the Los Angeles Philharmonic
at Walt Disney Concert Hall on January 5, 6, 7 and 8 as soloist in Liszt’s
Piano Concerto No. 2. Former LAPO Associate Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya will
also lead Dvorak’s Hussite Overture
and Saint-Sans’ Symphony No. 3 (Organ). There’s
an interesting tie, as John Henken writes in his program note for the symphony.
Saint-Sans dedicated the piece (which, in addition to its organ part, is
scored for piano four-hands) to Liszt, who died in 1886, the year the symphony
was composed. Information:


On January 1 at 6 p.m., PBSSoCal will air the “Great Performances”
telecast of the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Concert. Mariss Jansons
will lead the orchestra in the city’s famed Musikverein with a frothy program
of music by the Strausses (Johann, Johann Sr. and Edward), Tchaikovsky and
others. Julie Andrews will be the host. Information
(with the complete program listing):


PBSSoCal comes back on January 6 at 9 p.m. with a “Great
Performances” telecast of the L.A. Phil’s gala concert that opened the
2011-2012 Disney Hall season last September. The program is all-Gershwin: An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, with jazz legend
Herbie Hancock as the soloist. The TV schedule says that the program will also
include one of the two improvisations on Gershwin tunes (Someone to Watch Over Me) that Hancock performed in September.
Apparently the one-hour telecast will not include the Cuban Overture that opened the gala or the other improv (Embraceable You) that Hancock played
that night. Information:


Following the concert telecast, PBSSoCal will repeat an
interview between Tavis Smiley and Dudamel.



Norman Lebrecht is reporting on his Blog, Slipped Disc, (LINK) that Gustavo
Dudamel’s next recording on the Deutsche Grammophon label will be a vinyl
pressing, scheduled for release in May, of the Venezuelan maestro conducting
the Vienna Philharmonic as it plays Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (Scottish. It should also be noted that
neither DGG nor Dudamel have officially commented on the subject (at least that
I can find).


In Lebrecht’s comment section, there are predictably joyous
reactions from those who love vinyl recordings as opposed to CDs, although as
some responders point out there are questions as to the recording format to be
used. I wonder (a) are there enough vinyl lovers in the world to make this
commercially viable or will be there also be CD and iTunes versions available;
(b) how many people can really tell the difference in recording formats; and
(c) if they can, will they be willing to invest in the high-quality equipment
necessary to make the difference audible? (My answers are “I doubt it,”
“relatively few,” and “I can’t afford it.”). Stay tuned … so to speak.


The thing that interested me about this recording is that
the Scottish Symphony will (if you
judge by the cover Lebrecht posted) be the only piece on the LP. When Dudamel
and the L.A. Phil played it last October, the symphony clocked in at about 40
minutes, which seems pretty short for a record.



Anne is the Washington
classical music critic and her Blog, The Classical Beat, is one of my favorite reads. However, her last
Blog post was Nov. 1 and I wondered whether that newspaper had joined the list of publications to deep-six their classical
music reviews or whether she was ill. Neither, fortunately, is the case. She’s
on maternity leave and will be back on the “beat” in mid-January. Good for her
and for us, too.



This isn’t exactly news — CBS News released it on Dec. 15 —
but I’m not on its distribution list so I just caught up with it via a post on
Peter Dobrin’s Blog (LINK). Trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis has been
named Cultural Correspondent for CBS News, appearing on CBS This Morning and CBS
Sunday Morning.
His first CBS News gig will be on Monday, Jan. 16 (natch) —
the day that the nation observes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. A link
to the media release is HERE.



(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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