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#Corona-classics I: Le Dernier sorcier Pauline Viardot

When corona measures were declared on Thursday 12 March, it felt surreal at first. The next day, the world premiere of Willem Jeths' opera Ritratto fell through. I had been looking forward to this immensely, just like all the other productions in the Opera Forward Festival. Besides, I was in the midst of preparations for numerous introductions the next... 

Retrospect Opera presents Fête Galante by unjustly forgotten Ethel Smyth - Buy that CD!

'Had I not possessed three things unrelated to music, I would have perished early on from loneliness and disillusionment,' wrote Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) at 60. Those three things were: 'Iron health, a distinct fighting spirit and a modest but independent income.' Whereas women in the nineteenth century were condemned to compose 

'The soprano sighs, supports, whispers, breathes in, breathes out, blows, squeals' - Helmut Lachenmann Got Lost in November Music

German composer Helmut Lachenmann (1935) is a champion of evocative squeaks, creaks and crunches. Like John Cage, for instance, he hears music in unusual sources. Rarely is an instrument played the way it is written in the books. 'Making music with sounds is relatively simple and always somewhere modern,' he once said of this. Although he started his career as a choirboy counts... 

Clara Schumann in 1878

Clara Schumann: still in Robert's shadow even after 200 years

Exactly 200 years ago, on 13 September 1819, Clara Schumann was born in Leipzig as Clara Wieck. She is among one of the greatest pianists of the nineteenth century. Against her father's wishes, she married Robert Schumann, whose work she fervently promoted. She also wrote well-received compositions of her own and was more famous than Robert. Yet after her... 

Why you shouldn't miss 'Im wunderschönen Monat Mai' at Paradiso

On Wednesday 16 January, Reinbert de Leeuw will present his cycle Im wunderschönen Monat Mai at Paradiso. A unique opportunity to see him at work once more in his globally believed masterpiece. In 2003, he surprised friend and foe alike with this composition inspired by songs by Schumann and Schubert. Was that not swearing in church? Arnold Schoenberg had the Romanticism... 

Three CDs you wouldn't have wanted to miss in 2018

The end of the year is approaching. So the lists fly around our ears again with 'most beautiful', 'best', 'most unforgettable', 'most moving'... fill in the blanks. I think compiling top-soaps is actually a typically male thing, but I'm not that bad. Here are three CDs you wouldn't have wanted to miss this year - in no particular order. Louise Farrenc: Variations for Piano Biliana Tzinlikova,... 

The 5 concerts you don't want to miss at November Music

The female composer, she continues to stir minds. My article following Mathilde Wantenaar's world premiere of Damocles unleashed a fierce discussion on Facebook. 'Why should women be given preferential treatment?" an angry man asked. 'All that matters to me is quality, not whether a piece of music was written by a man or a woman.' He got icky about the m/f discussion, which... 

Reinbert de Leeuw showered with honours on his 80th birthday

Accompanied by Asko|Schönberg, Katja Herbers sings parts from Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, Reinbert's adaptation of classics by Schubert and Schumann. The poignant lyrics get a witty twist in the last song. In 'Röslein auf der Heiden', the 'victim' is not the fragile little flower from the original but Reinbert himself. "Und der wilde Knabe brach Reinbert auf der Heiden; Reinbert wehrte... 

Between nappy and dishes - the (in)visibility of female composers

Amsterdam, 8 March 2018. Today is Women's Day, no one can fail to notice. The media are brimming with articles about women's unequal pay and their still limited representation in prestigious positions. Whether in politics, business, academia or the arts. Perhaps the most conservative is the classical music world. There, the female composer has yet to... 

Fanny Mendelssohn: in the shadow of Felix

Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847) was the four-year older sister of Felix Mendelssohn. They both received a solid musical education, with her surpassing him in virtuosity at the piano. Her relationship with Felix was intense, but also suffocating. At his hands, Fanny Mendelssohn failed to build an independent career as a composer. To this day 

Aribert Reimann: 'I cherish both musical tradition and modern developments'

Despite his advanced age, German composer Aribert Reimann (1936) is still very active. In October 2017, his opera L'invisible had its world premiere at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, based on a play by Maeterlinck. On 14 December, the first performance of his cycle Die schönen Augen der Frühlingsnacht will already be heard at Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. He composed it for soprano Mojca Erdmann and... 

Franui: Consolation and cheers band from Tyrol surprises with true-life songs #HF17

Florian Boesch is at the front of the stage, around him are his bandmates. On big screen behind the band, a chair slowly melts away. Boesch has hands casually in his pockets. With a smile, the violinist initiates a horlepie-like tune. Wie leiblich und frölich, Zu schweben, zu singen, Von glänzender Höhe, Zur Erde zu blicken! By the clutches... 

Grażyna Bacewicz: 'A composer doesn't want to repeat himself'

In Poland, her name appears on street signs and school buildings, and statues of her can be found in public parks. Grażyna Bacewicz (1909-1969) was the first Polish woman to achieve international success as a composer. Her work can even be found on one of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's CD anthologies. Yet she is still virtually unknown here in the country. Unjustly so, as she wrote... 

Ivo Pogorelich shocks Eindhoven and streams on Idagio

'It took me 18 years to make a new recording,' Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelich (1958) says with a modest smile. 'Just as much time as it takes a baby to come of age.' It is Wednesday, November 2. A special moment, because on that day Pogorelich's CD-less new recording of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas No 22 and No 24 will go on... 

NJO Music Summer presents 'Drama in Vienna'

Since its inception, the NJO Music Summer has spread its wings. It started in 2001 as a summer course for music students who were allowed to work with internationally renowned musicians, composers and conductors. Since then, the NJO Music Summer has grown into an unmissable, audience-friendly festival, covering the entire province of Gelderland. On Friday 19 August, it takes a step across the border to Overijssel,... 

Composer Marie Jaëll: French flair, Russian drama

Had her name been Marc, Marie Jaëll (1846-1925) was undoubtedly considered one of the important French composers of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. But then again, she was once a woman - so unimportant. Praised during her lifetime by none other than Franz Liszt, she was soon forgotten after her death. At most, she lived on in the by... 

Dying Swan (Rinus Sprong), photo Studio Oostrum

Even with eyes closed, DEDJDD's Ballet Blanc is a beautiful evening

The Zuiderstrandtheater in The Hague premiered Ballet Blanc on 8 March. It is the new full-length performance by The Dutch Junior Dance Division. The young dancers tour the country with a collage of fifteen short pieces. Blanc is the unifying factor in a fresh mix of classical and modern ballet, with tragedy, poignancy and humour. The juniors... 

Franz Liszt: from virtuoso keyboard lion to ascetic innovator

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was revered in his own time as a true devil's advocate, whose virtuoso piano playing set many a woman's heart racing. But above all, he was an innovator, whose ambition was to "hurl a spear into the infinite space of the future". The Concertzender highlights life and work for two hours on Wednesday, 2 December 

Unsuk Chin: 'Holland is more open to new music than other countries'

In 1985, Unsuk Chin (Seoul 1961) won the Gaudeamus Music Prize with Spektra for three cellos, six years later she made her breakthrough with her Akrostichon-Wortspiel for soprano and ensemble composed for the Nieuw Ensemble. In 2004, she won the Grawemeyer Award, the world's most prestigious music prize; in 2007, she made a deep impression with her opera Alice in Wonderland. Tomorrow, Thursday 22 October. 

Festival 'Alba Rosa Viva' puts forgotten composer centre stage

This Sunday, September 28, the one-day festival Alba Rosa Viva will take place in Utrecht, in honour of the 125th birth anniversary of Alba Rosa Viëtor. Alba Rosa who?!!! Well, Alba Rosa Viëtor was an Italian violinist and composer who was born Alba Rosa in Milan in 1889. In 1919, she married Dutch businessman Jan Freseman Viëtor and in... 

Anna Korsun wins Gaudeamus Music Prize

Last night, Ukrainian composer Anna Korsun (1986, Donetsk) won the coveted Gaudeamus Music Prize in TivoliVredenburg. This consists of a cash prize of €4550, which serves as an honorarium for a new composition that will have its world premiere in a subsequent instalment. The international jury, consisting of composers Vanessa Lann (Netherlands), Oscar Bianchi (Switzerland) and Wim Hendericx (Belgium) chose her unanimously from... 

Reinbert de Leeuw in Zomergasten, not in Muziekzomer

In just over two weeks, the NJO Music Summer will start, with more than sixty-five concerts performed by young musicians, spread across more and less obvious venues in the province of Gelderland. One hundred and sixty-one youngsters streamed in from all over the world to show their skills from 1 to 17 August. Anyone staying in Gelderland at that time could not possibly miss their presence.

There are performances at former factory sites, such as the Zoetenlaboratorium in Arnhem, the Zwitsalterre...

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Reinbert de Leeuw defies limits of orchestra in Saturday Matinee

Reinbert de Leeuw turned seventy-five last September, but already in May the VPRO honoured him with three full-length broadcasts on Radio 4. Together with Aad van Nieuwkerk, I made a selection from his best recordings of Kagel, Ustvolskaya and Louis Andriessen, among others, about which I also let him speak. This was followed in September by a real Reinbert festival and his own magazine. The magazine not only highlighted him... 

Shirokuro © Anja Beutler

Unmercifully gracious, 'Shirokuro' builds on hammered Ustvolskaya @HollandFestival

Holland Festival

The collaboration between pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama and choreographer Nicole Beutler in the performance 'Shirokuro', seen last week at the Holland Festival, provides a beautiful perspective on two piano sonatas by Galina Ustvolskaya. 'Shirokuro' means black and white in Japanese. Despite strong visuals and impressive co-protagonists on stage, the Russian composer's absolute music is never explained and therefore retains its sheer power.

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