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Scriabin in the Himalayas

An unusual new CD from pianist John Bell Young will offer recording premières of music by Scriabin, by his lecture-recital partner Hugh Downs, by Leo Tolstoy (!) and by concert pianist Michel Block. Young has arranged for Scriabin's dying wish - that his uncompleted final work, the ceremonial Mysterium be performed in the Himalayas - to be satisfied. Alpine climber Carlos Buhler has scaled Himalayan Mount Melungtse this month, with a copy of Young's new CD, and has played both Scriabin's 7th sonata and a recording of a 'completion' of Mysterium by Russian composer Alexander Nemtin from the summit. Further information from Americus Records or from John Bell Young.

 

and information previously published here (and there) ...

Death of Amaryllis Fleming

English cellist and teacher Amaryllis Fleming died on July 27, aged 73. A pupil of Casals and Fournier and student at London's Royal College of Music, Fleming won the 1952 Queen's Prize, and formed first the Loveday Trio (with Alan Loveday) and later the Paganini Trio (with Loveday and Julian Bream). Amongst her many pupils was Raphael Wallfisch.

 

Dutoit resigns

After 10 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Charles Dutoit has announced that he is stepping down from his post as artistic director of the Philadelphia's summer concerts at the Mann Performing Arts Center in New York. What no-one seems to know is why. There is speculation that Dutoit hoped to succeed Wolfgang Sawalisch as the orchestra's music director, but that the orchestra's board is not considering him.

 

Grawemeyer Music Award

The University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition 2001 is announced and entries required by Jan 31 2000. The details are much the same as previously, and the winning works remain at the highest level. The first in 1985 was Lutoslawski's Third Symphony, and the most recent (1998) Tan Dun's Marco Polo. The financial reward remains at $200,000 and there will be plenty of international interest. Entry forms from Grawemeyer Music Award Committee, School of Music, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40292.

 

EMI back-catalogue

In June, the record company EMI acquired a 50% share in the US company musicmaker.com (which makes custom CDs based on tracks selected online). Shortly afterwards, EMI announced that it plans to make its back-catalogue available for download on the net by the end of the year. A new format being developed by SDMI - the Secure Digital Music Initiative - will be used, allowing copyright owners to collect download royalties and to track and control redistribution using a digital watermark stored in the downloaded files.

 

The Mozart effect - 'debunking' the myth

If reports are accurate, psychologists at the University of California researched possible evidence of a 'Mozart effect' in 1993, and again two years later. It all arose from a reported 'temporary increase in intelligence after listening to a Mozart piano sonata'. (We feel the need for a break here just to become curious, not about the choice of composer, rather the choice of category. To our minds, the best of Mozart lies in other genres.)

Leaving this innocuous remark aside, the researchers found 'little evidence to support basing intellectual intervention programs on the existence of the Mozart effect'. Where it had made a hit, it 'lasted less than 15 minutes'. (14.5 or 14, or even less? No accurate answer, we're afraid.)

Another university replicated the conditions, but increased the guinea pigs in number to 125. There was the same result, which led a member of staff to assume that a 'positive mood' could cause the 'Mozart effect'.

He further decided that his team had 'debunked the myth that listening to classical music can make you smarter'. Perhaps the students should have then taken over and tested the psychologists. We have not as yet decided what the subject might be.

This information is covered in greater depth at HealthCentral.

An extraordinary amount of information about the 'Mozart effect' exists on the internet - try this saved search on Altavista.

 

but classical music IS good for babies in Tennessee ...

That the American state of Tennessee has apparently taken an unprecedented step in helping infants to be weaned on a carefully researched diet of classical music may put it out of step with the rest of us for the present. Research has indicated that early exposure to classical music develops creative and learning ability. Parents receive a free, specially produced cassette or CD on the birth of a child. What has motivated Tennessee to understand this fact and act upon it when most of the world is indifferent?

 

Chevalier Tate

The French government has named British conductor Jeffrey Tate a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur - a distinction usually reserved for Frenchmen. Tate has been a Chevalier of Arts and Letters since 1990.

 

Muddling through

The British government has come under attack from Simon Rattle for its attitude towards funding the country's orchestras, with Sir Simon claiming that they are all 'technically bankrupt', but that they 'muddle through'. Rattle also suggests in an interview with Radio Times magazine that anyone running a British Arts organisation is likely to be permanently exhausted.

 

Investing in music?

If you believe that the future of music commerce is linked to the internet, you may be interested in the news that shares in the American publically owned CD Explosion Corp. (a Delaware Corporation) are being offered for sale at US$ 1.60 per share - minimum purchase 200 shares. For further information, please complete the form at www.musiconsale.com/investor.asp .

 

Death of Rodrigo

The much-loved Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo died on 6th July. Please refer to our Rodrigo tribute for further information.

 

Gramophone Buyout

Michael Heseltine's company Haymarket Publications is to buy Gramophone Publications for around £10m. Owned and run by the Pollard family, the Gramophone magazine has always had dominance in the classical record market for its copious reviews of new releases and the authority of its panel of reviewers. We await developments with interest.

 

Yakov Kreizberg

It was announced on 2 July that Yakov Kreizberg will stand down as Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 1999/2000 Season. He took over in September 1995 to generate a period of growth for the orchestra, which shows in the present excellence of both their national and international acclaim.

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