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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

The headline in the New York Times reads: Valery Gergiev, a Putin Ally, Fired as Chief Conductor in Munich.

Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro and prominent supporter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, was removed Tuesday from his post as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic after he refused to denounce Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, announced his decision in a news release saying termination of Mr. Gergiev’s contract was the only option available. 

Mr. Gergiev is a prominent supporter of Mr. Putin, endorsing his re-election and appearing at concerts in Russia and abroad to promote his policies. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Mr. Putin was an official in St. Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev was beginning his tenure as the leader of the Mariinsky, then called the Kirov.

Mr. Putin has played an important role in Mr. Gergiev’s success, providing funding to the Mariinsky Theater, where Mr. Gergiev serves as general and artistic director.

Which illustrates the danger of relying on the support of a powerful political leader for a musician. His enemies become your enemies--in this case, just about everyone.

A follow-up story from a few days later: Anna Netrebko, Russian Diva, Is Out at the Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko, the superstar Russian soprano, will no longer appear at the Metropolitan Opera this season or next after failing to comply with the company’s demand that she distance herself from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as he wages war on Ukraine.

The end of Ms. Netrebko’s engagements, which the Met announced on Thursday, came after the opera company, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said it would no longer hire artists who support Mr. Putin. While Ms. Netrebko has in recent days issued statements critical of the war, she has remained silent on the Russian president, whose re-election she has in the past endorsed.

This should be a warning to every artist: keep a distance between yourself and any and all political figures, because while they might help you now, depending on future events, you may come to regret it. Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev are artists of the highest rank and it seems likely their careers are over--for the foreseeable future. 

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We don't often hear about Shostakovich's sense of humor, but he indeed had one. In Dolmatovskiy's brief memoir he mentions a couple of instances. Shostakovich was very reluctant to criticize even bad works of music, but he was known to have said "It didn't turn out completely successfully" and, my favorite, "One can't say that what you've composed is original or good, but I can see you worked on it for a long time." [Shostakovich Studies 2, p. 260]

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Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowan links to a report that the Ukrainian Library Association announced cancellation of their upcoming conference by saying "We will reschedule just as soon as we have finished vanquishing our invaders".

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 The Irish Times informs us: Two seminal collections of Irish traditional music brought back to life

At the heart of our traditional music is the notion of returning to the well: that source of infinite riches where melodies and songs abound. Whether it’s one singer borrowing a song from another or a musician stumbling across a tune in a dusty manuscript, there’s a constant process of renewal at play. Fittingly, this spring sees the publication of two seminal collections by the Irish Traditional Music Archive (ITMA), one dating back 170 years and the other a relative newcomer at just 70 years of age.

Speaking of musical traditions...

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Last year the composer focus at the Salzburg Festival was on Morton Feldman, this coming summer it will be on Bartók with seven concerts devoted to his music. There will be four performances of Bluebeard's Castle, piano and chamber concerts as well as the Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Vienna Philharmonic and Yefim Bronfman.

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Let's start with that Bartók concerto. This is Yefim Bronfman with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the LA Philharmonic:

And this is Anna Netrebko singing "Casta Diva" from Bellini's Norma:

And here is an example of a traditional Irish song collected by Alan Lomax in 1951.

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