Ludwig's Links: What News Would Beethoven Follow? Feb. 4, 2011

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Beethoven would probably have been saddened to hear of the passing of one of the twentieth century's major composers. iStock. hide caption

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Beethoven would probably have been saddened to hear of the passing of one of the twentieth century's major composers.


This week's classical happenings have been somewhat overshadowed by the passing of the great Milton Babbitt on Saturday. His music has been given many labels, including avant-garde, serialist, maximalist and complex — but no matter what you call it, the fact remains that no text on 20th-century music is complete without his name in it. Filmmaker Robert Hilferty worked for years on a documentary of Babbitt, which was completed by a former Babbitt student. You can see it premiered here on NPR Music.

In other news:

  • Chicago Symphony conductor Riccardo Muti fainted in rehearsal on Thursday and was hospitalized. Leonard Slatkin stepped in, as his own Detroit Symphony is still embroiled in a bitter strike.
  • Speaking of Detroit, orchestra management has submitted a new proposal to the striking musicians, who are expected to respond by next Friday. But, as if the ongoing strikes weren't enough, the orchestra's lenders now want a $54 million loan repaid. But the banks might as well give the DSO a break – they'll probably never see that money anyway.
  • Good News For Los Angeles: Gustavo Dudamel has extended his contract with the L.A. Philharmonic through the 2018-2019 season, squashing rumors that La Scala was courting him.
  • A new production of John Adams' Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars, has opened at the Metropolitan Opera, with the composer himself conducting. Though the opera has a solid place in the 20th-century repertoire, this is the first time the Met has staged it.
  • The L.A. Phil recently came to a theatre near you – but Jeffery Sheban of the Columbus Dispatch wonders if the broadcasts will take revenue from smaller local orchestras.
  • A viral illness caused Met conductor James Levine to cancel a Carnegie Hall performance last Sunday.
  • Jimmydammerung? La Cieca of Parterre Box predicts Levine's retirement at the end to the 2011-12 season (with an artfully Photoshopped crystal ball).
  • Coast To Coast: Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times talks with Michael Tilson Thomas, who divides his time between the San Francisco Symphony and the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, which has a new hall designed by Frank Gehry.
  • The San Francisco Opera posted a deficit of $1.5 million for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, leaving fans to wonder if the phrase "struggling opera company" is redundant.
  • Documentary Opera: Composers are writing operas about real, contemporary people such as Jackie Kennedy, Malcolm X and Anna Nicole Smith.
  • Hits and Misses: Ruper Christiansen of the Telegraph takes a look at which modern operas have succeeded, and which have failed miserably.
  • Peter Oundjian stopped playing the violin in 2004 when a neurological disorder afflicted his right hand. But the Toronto Symphony Orchestra music director will be back onstage with a fiddle this season — alongside Itzhak Perlman.
  • Top Ten Composers? It should really be 25, says Donald Rosenberg of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Or better yet, 50.
  • Citizen Musicians: Yo Yo Ma and a host of teenage choristers brought music to Chicago's Millenium Station, launching the Chicago Symphony's Citizen Musician movement.



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