See an excellent online exhibition from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A sketch for Act II of MADAME BUTTERFLY

Serious news about the threatened loss by sale of a substantial music-manuscript collection at the Morgan Library. Given the library’s ventures into an online presence for some of these documents, the loss might be borne by more than researchers physically present in their reading room.

Seated at the Keyboard

March 20, 2011

What to do when you play a historic keyboard instrument but, aside from direct music-making, have some untraditional requirements for sitting — not everyone choosing to stand to play, as we see in Vermeer? The ideal historically-informed way would of course be to acquire a chair in the period and style of the instrument. But aside from certain differences in the way we sit at the keyboard nowadays (18th-century male players having extended their legs to the side to show the curve of the calves to best advantage, for example — something that for several reasons almost never occurs to me), I had comparatively prosaic needs: I sit quite low to play, but the cembalo in question is played six times a week by a small child. Thus it needs to be easily adjustable. One of the elaborate contraptions used for modern pianos seemed somehow inappropriate — not to mention expensive overkill. Today I hit on a solution that I’m very happy with: one of those stools that medical and dental practitioners use. It is practical, comfortable, unassuming, and inexpensive.

The D.I.Y. Career

March 10, 2011

The musician and genius marketer Gilbert Hetherwick has pointed me to another performer who is making hay in the anarchy that characterizes much of the music business these days. This young man sat down in the park with a single camera and played a song he likes. More than seven and a half a million people have watched his video, and he is now under management and tours regularly. He did not sit around waiting for someone to give him a record contract or permission to perform for audiences. He uploaded an example of what he could do onto YouTube and, with an intelligent Web site as virtual headquarters, pursues a career that he made for himself.

UPDATE: A reader points out this wonderful TED Talk that the artist did.

Judged by Your Peers

March 7, 2011

I have up to now missed out on the Justin Bieber phenomenon, but this article makes me wonder why a compelling “classical” musician — a new Yo Yo Ma, Joyce Didonato, or Leif Ove Andsnes — couldn’t employ this same social-media way of becoming known and admired.

And where did the child learn to do comparatively clean coloratura like this?