Remembering Toscanini

March 25, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, WAGNER |

Toscanini by Giacomo Grosso

Arthur Toscanini (March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957) Naturally, they hissed at him at La Scala.  But Arturo had the last laugh, recognised in his lifetime as the greatest conductor in the world, selector’s choice for launching the best operas on offer. After spurning Mussolini and Hitler, he concentrated on playing for people who were primarily interested in art rather than power: “Liberty, in my opinion, is the only orthodoxy within the limits of which art may express itself and flourish freely-liberty that is the best of all things in the life of man, if it is all one…

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Venetian Voices

Photo by Jörg Bittner (Unna)

(by Christine V. Courtney) (2017) Venice is of a set, in that it is a Great City, but it is also sui generis, a brilliant bauble set amid a swamp, a rococo castle in the air, an ornate pagoda floating on water. Venice and its inhabitants, whether citizens or arrivistes, spell romance on a myriad levels, and pose a historical jigsaw of massive scope and complexity, so it makes sense to wander its narrow streets and sail its intricate waterways clutching some sort of evocative Baedeker.  Our favourite Venetian history is the massive Folio tome (merging two volumes) by John Julius Norwich…

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Will be Damned

February 22, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | METAPHYSICS, PETER'S WRITING, RELIGION, WAGNER |

Portrait by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl (1815)

Arthur Schopenhauer (born 22 February 1788) “Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is for all those who are still full of will certainly nothing; but, conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and has denied itself, this our world, which is so real, with all its suns and milky ways – is nothing.” Arthur lived in shadowlands; His hated mother washed her hands Of him, and his suicidal Dad’s Echo – so he read Upanishads And Kant, forming a new world-view As bleak as stout, and yet he grew Into determined…

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Richard’s Wake – and thus Sam spake

February 12, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, Opera, OPERA, WAGNER |

11 February 2018 A very pleasant afternoon was spent, courtesy of the Richard Wagner Society SA, at the Seven Stars Hotel to observe the passing of the Maestro (13 February 1883) and to hear from rising Australian tenor, Samuel Sakker, who is here to sing in the Brett Dean-composed opera of Hamlet at the Festival Theatre, and later in the year, to perform in Meistersinger Act III as David. It was of great interest to hear about the travails of a young tenor making his way in the world of opera, and to learn that selection of an operatic role is…

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Being Wagner

(by Simon Callow) (2017) Wagner was the Richard Nixon of Art: Revered, and reviled. Hugely accomplished and hugely flawed. Shining Knight and Scaly Dragon. So many words have been written by him, about him, for him and against him that when our literary friend Janelle sent us this book as a gift, it evoked a wan sigh – another Wagner book by an enthusiastic amateur, you might say!  Quelle Horreur you might say! Well, you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves!  This is a lovely book, full of sound insight and as easy to slip between its sheets as…

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