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September 2008 Archives

Mauricio Kagel Obituary

Mauricio Kagel

Mauricio Kagel, 76, Writer of Avant-Garde Music, Is Dead

By William Grimes
New York Times

Mauricio Kagel, an avant-garde composer whose often absurdist works blurred the boundaries between music, theater and film, died on Wednesday in Cologne, Germany. He was 76.

His death was announced by his music publishing house, C.F. Peters Musikverlag. No cause was given.

By temperament a dadaist and provocateur, Mr. Kagel drew on the musical examples of composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In "Anagrama," a work from the 1950s, singers and instrumentalists were called on to emit notes, squeaks, whispers and shouts corresponding to an elaborate system derived from the letters in a Latin palindrome.

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

Artists in Exile

Artists in Exile by Joseph Horowitz

The exiles who wowed America

How exiled European artists reacted to the energy and freedom of the US

By Clive James
The Times Literary Supplement

Imagine Balanchine watching a bunch of cheerleaders and you've got this book in a flash. Vignettes are its basic strength, as was bound to be true. The subject of the twentieth-century European artists in exile is too big for one book. Jean-Michel Palmier proved it by publishing his pioneering compendium Weimar en exil (1988) as two books, one of them called Exil en Europe and the other Exil en Amérique. Since there could easily have been others – Exil en Australie would have been interesting – it will be appreciated that Palmier himself felt obliged to limit his purview.

Joseph Horowitz gets the story into a single volume, Artists in Exile, by concentrating on a single destination, America, and even then he trims the field. His subtitle "How refugees from twentieth-century war and revolution transformed the American performing arts" leaves out the writers, painters, photographers and architects, which means we aren't going to hear much about any of the Mann clan, and nothing at all about Mondrian, Ernst, Léger, Moholy-Nagy, Mies, Gropius, Andreas Feininger, Lyonel Feininger … but let's stop. Horowitz gives us mainly those exiles who worked in music, theatre and film. Even then, there are more than enough names to be going on with: Balanchine, Stravinsky, Koussevitsky, Toscanini, Stokowski, Kurt Weill and Rouben Mamoulian are only the most prominent.

Read the complete review at The Times website:

Vernon Handley Obituary

Vernon Handley by Toby Wales

Vernon Handley

Conductor who ignored orchestral fashions in order to champion British composers, and was adored by musicians.

The Telegraph
8:17PM BST 10 Sep 2008

Vernon Handley, who died yesterday aged 77, was one of the best-loved of conductors and a great champion of British orchestral music; a protégé of Sir Adrian Boult, he was renowned for holding fast to two principles – an undemonstrative technique and an unfashionable repertoire.

While he was by no means alone in promoting the underdogs of British music, no one did more than 'Tod' Handley to bring them to the attention of the mainstream. His aim was to include at least one British work in all his concerts. Nevertheless, he would acknowledge that "One man can't put it right," adding: "But I've done as much as I could, and I'm going to keep trying."

Read more about this at the Telegraph website:

An Atmosphere of High Seriousness


Why So Serious?

How the classical concert took shape.

By Alex Ross
New Yorker

The modern classical-music performance, as audiences have come to know it and sometimes to love it, adheres to a fairly rigid format. The music usually begins a few minutes after eight, listeners having taken their seats beforehand to peruse program notes or chat with neighbors. The evening falls into two halves, each lasting around forty-five or fifty minutes. An orchestral concert often proceeds from overture or short tone poem to solo concerto, and then to a symphony or some other major statement; a solo recital builds up to a big sonata or a virtuoso showpiece. The audience is expected to remain quiet for the duration of each work, and those who applaud between movements may face embarrassment. Around ten o'clock, the audience claps for two or three minutes, the performers bow two or three times, and all go home. Opera has a slightly looser code – the length of the evening depends on the composer's whims, and the audience makes its feelings known with sporadic applause and very occasional boos – but there, too, an atmosphere of high seriousness prevails.

Read more about this at the New Yorker website:

High-Quality Classical Downloads


Classical download store launches

DRM-free tracks mean music
can be transferred to other audio devices

BBC News

Classical music lovers in the UK will now be able to download their favourite works from the web, thanks to a new resource launched today.

Passionato is providing the world's biggest collection of high-quality classical downloads, first in the UK and later worldwide. The company says more than 18,000 recordings are available. Many fans of classical music have previously shunned MP3 downloads because of disappointing quality. Passionato offers its downloads – single tracks, works or albums – at high-quality 320kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec).

Read more about this at the BBC News website: