Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Italian Conductor Claudio Abbado Dies at 80

00 Claudio Abbado. 22.10.14

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Editor’s Note:

I’ve always been a fan of Claudio Abbado. He took a deep interest in Russian music, and was one of the finest interpreters of the genre. I think that his recordings of the Tchaikovsky Symphonies are close to being definitive. Oh, yes… Signore Abbado was a leftist… an Italian Communist who believed in equal chances for all, regardless of financial standing. We’ll miss him…

Вечная ему память… May his memory be eternal…

BMD

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A close collaborator told AFP that Italian conductor Claudio Abbado, whose stellar career took him from La Scala to the Berlin Philharmonic to the Vienna Staatsoper died on Monday at the age of 80. A tearful Attilia Giuliani, head of the Abbadiani fan club, who first met Abbado in 1988 at the Teatro di San Carlo in Napoli, said, “I found out half an hour ago from his personal doctor. This is such a painful moment. I can’t speak”. Abbado was one of the most outstanding conductors of his time; he headed La Scala for 15 years and was artistic director at the Vienna Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic orchestras. Abbado, who’d been ill for several years, was far from the stereotype of tyrannical maestros and made hundreds of recordings, spanning from Italy’s lyrical repertoire to classical music of the 20th century. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appointed Abbado Senator for Life last year and gave over his salary for scholarships for young musicians. Lately, he’d cancelled several recent performances and appearances.

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Born on 26 June 1933 in Milano in a musical family, Abbado began his studies in his hometown and completed his training with Hans Swarowsky in Vienna from 1957 at the start of a long love story with Austria. Abbado was a convinced European and global citizen. The maestro started out at La Scala in 1960, where he won accolades for his performance of Giacomo Manzoni‘s opera Atomtod in 1965 and he served as musical director of the celebrated theatre until 1986. Abbado was a leftist and gave concerts in factories and schools, trying to open up the classical music world. From 1971, he also became a regular at the Vienna Philharmonic and he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra between 1979 and 1988, where critics praised his concerts of his favourite composer Gustav Mahler. He was also musical director of the Vienna Staatsoper between 1986 and 1991, where he received the prestigious title of musical director general of the Austrian capital, “Generalmusikdirektor“. The members of the Berlin Philharmonic elected him their head in October 1989 after the death of Herbert von Karajan; he established an excellent rapport with the orchestra, where he worked until 2002. He used to say, “I’m not their boss, we work together”.

20 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_20/Italian-conductor-Claudio-Abbado-dies-aged-80-5631/

 

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Monday, 25 November 2013

John Tavener: An Obituary

00 Requiescat in Pace. 19.11.12

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John Tavener, born on 28 January 1944, one of the leading composers of his generation, died on 12 November, aged 69. Tavener’s music underwent a transformation. In his youth, when he had something of the playboy image about him, the Beatles championed him, but his conversion to Russian Orthodoxy led him to write works that were contemplative and spiritual by nature. Like many composers, Tavener’s career had its highs and lows. The première of his rhapsody for cello and strings, The Protecting Veil, at the Promenade concerts in 1989 became one of the best-selling classical recordings ever. However, that was only nine years after a requiem he wrote, based on poems about the victims of Stalin, provoked a steady stream of people to head for the exit at the Royal Albert Hall at the Proms.

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Tavener was an instantly-recognisable figure. At 6ft 6in, he sported shoulder-length, blond hair and had skin like parchment. Sadly, he suffered ill-health throughout his adult life. As a child, he learned to play the piano without formal tuition. He spent his summer holidays in Sussex, where at the age of 12 he went to Glyndebourne and heard Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum ad honorem Sancti Marci Nominis (Canticle to Honour the Name of St Mark), which he regarded as the pinnacle of 20th-century music, “The piece woke me up and made me want to be a composer”.

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From 1962, he attended the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied composition under Lennox Berkeley. He first came to prominence with an oratorio, The Whale, based on the biblical story of Jonah. It had its first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1968 during the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta. The work required eight percussionists, who had to move between drums, bells, gongs, a football rattle, and amplified metronomes. For five minutes, the score allowed the musicians to play whatever they wanted. This captivated the Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr, and his colleague, John Lennon, arranged for its recording on the group’s record label, Apple.

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Tavener joined the Orthodox Church in 1977. He wanted to write an accompaniment to an eighth-century liturgical poem, but first he had to get permission from one of the translators, Mother Thekla, the abbess of a Greek Orthodox monastery in North Yorkshire. In time, she provided the libretti of several of his works. On his 50th birthday in 1994, the BBC devoted four days to a festival of Tavener’s works, transmitted from Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, and the Barbican. In 1997, his Song for Athene was part of the Westminster Abbey funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. One of his short works débuted in the Millennium Dome on New Year’s Eve, 1999; a larger scale oratorio, dedicated to the Prince of Wales, received its first performance in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2000.

25 November 2013

Richard Anthony Baker

The Stage

http://www.thestage.co.uk/features/obituaries/2013/11/john-tavener/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=john-tavener

 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Maestro Valery Gergiev Fetes His 60th Birthday with Carnegie Hall Concerts

00 Valery Gergiev. 27.08.13

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Entertainment media reported that maestro Valery Gergiev would celebrate his 60th birthday at Carnegie Hall in New York this October with three concerts featuring music of Stravinsky, Shostakovich, and Rachmaninoff. Broadway World.com reported on Monday that Gergiev, who’s also marking his 25th year with the legendary Mariinsky Orchestra, will conduct an all-Stravinsky program on 10 October, featuring the composer’s famous ballet music from L’oiseau de feu (The Firebird), Pétrouchka, and Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring). On 11 October, Gergiev will conduct a performance of a Shostakovich concerto and the composer’s Symphony No. 8 in C minor, opus 65, followed by the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances, opus 45 and a piano concerto on 15 October. The Mariinsky is one of the oldest orchestras in Russia, having premièred works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich, just to name a few. Gergiev first conducted the orchestra in 1978; since becoming Artistic and General Director in 1996, he’s toured with the ensemble to more than 45 countries. winning acclaim for widely expanding its repertoire.

27 August 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20130827/182998034/Gergiev-Fetes-60th-Birthday-With-Carnegie-Concerts.html

Monday, 2 April 2012

2 April 2012. Video. A Concert of the Chamber Choir of the Republic of Tatarstan, “Sacred Song”

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