The Screaming Skull

October 21, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Sir Georg Solti was born today (21 October) in 1912. The screaming skull with the over-paced tempo came from the Max Reinhardt school of conducting… But his passion was for exactitude, and that’s what the greatest conductors exact from their orchestras. Whether they are beloved, feared, or roundly hated, is beside the point. They wring the great performances from their thoroughbreds – that is the point.

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Vale Jeffrey Tate

June 7, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera, OPERA |

Sir Jeffrey Tate (28 April 1943 to 2 June 2017) will be greatly missed. He died of a heart attack in Italy, after a lifetime dedicated to great music. Initially mentored by the ‘Screaming Skull’ (Georg Solti), he overcame profound disabilities to become one of the great modern conductors, appearing at Covent Garden and the New York Met, among others. He was principal conductor at Covent Garden, English Chamber Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, San Carlo Theatre in Naples, and the Hamburg and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. It was whilst he was in Adelaide that he conducted the first Australian Ring Cycle (1998) and he recently returned…

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How Much I Lied

(Image by Jo Kuehn)

THE LIEDER TRADITION Schubert’s Winter Journey – Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge (2015) Deborah Humble sings Wagner & Brahms (Adelaide, 11 February 2017) The German lieder tradition sets romantic poetry to music and performs it with raw emotion, usually to a very simple musical accompaniment such as piano or guitar.  It is a broader part of a long line of love songs, from the French troubadours like Villon to the German lieder composers up to and in the nineteenth century, all the way to Tin Pan Alley and the torch songs floating out the windows of the Brill Building.  And beyond – modern pop songs have often…

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Happy Birthday Felix

February 3, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

(Painting of Felix by James Warren Childe - 1829)

Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 to 4 November 1847) The great German romantic composer was born this day 208 years ago. Mendelssohn and his sister were recognised early as music prodigies, and they became darlings of the salon. After a false start with an opera, he had increasing success with works of classical structure and high refinement.  To some tastes, he is too polished: to The Varnished Culture, this is akin to quibbling about Michelangelo‘s David for the smoothness of the marble.  As with the great painter / sculptor, the polish was born of sheer hard work.  Mendelssohn worked himself…

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December 17, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC |

Franz Schubert ‘s Symphony 8, the unfinished one, debuted 17 December 1865 in Vienna.  The composer was not able to hear it, having been decomposing since 1828. Yet it is a marvellous piece of work, and all the more intriguing as we don’t know why Franz didn’t get around to finishing, apart from a hatred of paperwork, a love of booze and a touch of syphilis. This because he was actually a real grind, with an astonishing output considering his short life.  Our review of a recent work is here covering Die Winterreise. When he sat down to sketch out…

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