Wednesday, December 26, 2012

“Remind Me Again Why We Give Money To These People”

“Chromosomes Away On Holiday”?

“Hillbillies On Parade”?

No, the members of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Photograph courtesy of the “People Of Walmart” website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Andrew and I have been in Oklahoma little more than 24 hours, and already we are driving my parents nuts.

They are talking about moving to an undisclosed location in a foreign country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Concert Has Been Added

Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Orchestre National d’lle de France
Salle Pleyel

Enrique Mazzola, Conductor
Cedric Tiberghien, Piano

Panufnik: Katyn Epitaph
Azarova: Mover Of The Earth [World Premiere]
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 3 (“Polish”)


We decided we could handle three orchestra concerts on three consecutive nights, especially since the orchestras are different, the artists are different, and the programs are different.

Consequently, over three nights, we shall hear three of Paris’s four full-time concert orchestras (we shall miss Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France).

The Azarova in question is Svitlana Azarova, of whom I have never heard. From the program arrangement, it seems clear that the composer’s new piece is a very short one.

We left open the possibility of attending a performance at Palais Garnier on our final evening in Paris, Saturday, January 26.

A double bill of Zemlinsky’s “The Dwarf” (also known as “The Birthday Of The Infanta”) and Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les sortileges” will be presented that evening. I do not think that German Expressionism mixes well with French Neo-Classicism, and I think the operas should be paired differently. Consequently, we have a “wait and see” attitude toward the Zemlinsky/Ravel double bill. (The conductor, Paul Daniel, and the stage director, Richard Jones, a couple of British provincials, also scare us off.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

On The Calendar

Sunday, January 20, 2013, at 3:00 p.m.

L’Opera Comique
Salle Favart

William Christie, Conductor
Les Arts Florissants

Charpentier: David Et Jonathas


Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at 7:00 p.m.

L’Opera National De Paris
L’Opera Bastille

Michail Jurowski, Conductor

Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina


Thursday, January 24, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Orchestre National De France
Theatre Du Chatelet

Colin Davis, Conductor
Arabella Steinbacher, Violin

Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5
Sibelius: Symphony No. 3


Friday, January 25, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Orchestre De Paris
Salle Pleyel

Paavo Jarvi, Conductor
Krystian Zimerman, Piano

Schumann: “Genoveva” Overture
Lutoslawski: Piano Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”)


Two five-act operas: I can hardly wait!

However, I want to see Salle Favart and L’Opera Bastille.

Getting tickets for the “Khovanshchina” performance was not easy: January 22 is opening night of a new production, and tickets are scarce. (January 22 was the only night we could attend.)

Since we decided only yesterday to go to Paris, very early this morning Andrew called someone he knows at the Wiener Staatsoper and Andrew’s father called a European conductor he has known for years.

We got tickets.

Andrew says Colin Davis will probably cancel the Orchestra National De France concert. Davis is very old, and has been infirm of late, and has been canceling about 80 per cent of his appearances the last year or so, often at the last minute.

I had wanted to see the Paris Opera Ballet, but the Paris Opera Ballet will not be performing the week we shall be in Paris.

Off The Calendar

Friday, January 4, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Ordway Center
Saint Paul

Edo de Waart, Conductor
Eric Owens, Bass

Mozart: Serenade No. 12
Adams: The Wound Dresser
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4


Friday, January 11, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Ordway Center
Saint Paul

Edo de Waart, Conductor
Peter Serkin, Piano

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides (“Fingal’s Cave”) Overture
Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 2
Mozart: Symphony No. 29
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 19


Friday, January 18, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Ordway Center
Saint Paul

Edo de Waart, Conductor

Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1
Weill: Violin Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5


Friday, January 25, 2013, at 8:00 p.m.

Minnesota Orchestra
Convention Center Auditorium

Osmo Vanska, Conductor
Roberto Diaz, Viola

Janacek: Suite From “The Cunning Little Vixen”
Bartok: Viola Concerto
Dvorak: Symphony No. 7


Sunday, January 27, 2013, at 3:00 p.m.

Minnesota Concert Opera
The Cowles Center

Craig Fields, Conductor

Verdi: Il Trovatore


Today the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra cancelled concerts through the first week of February.

The 2012-2013 SPCO season, on paper, was an exceptional one. Andrew and I had penciled in twelve concerts this season as holding some interest for us, three in January alone. The January concerts in which we had an interest are now kaput.

The January concerts we had earmarked were of interest not because of conductor Edo de Waart, hardly an important figure, but because of the music.

With reference to the Minnesota Orchestra concert we have removed from our calendar, the Janacek-Bartok-Dvorak program was one of only six Minnesota Orchestra programs Andrew and I had noted for the entire 2012-2013 season. Although the Minnesota Orchestra has yet to cancel January concerts, Andrew and I shall be in Paris the week of the Janacek-Bartok-Dvorak program—so that concert is now off our list, too.

Minnesota Concert Opera’s “Il Trovatore” will also be presented while we are in Paris, so we shall have to miss “Il Trovatore” as well—not that I am complaining.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hitler And Himmler In Color

Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, participating in Hitler’s daily stroll at the Berghof.

The year of the photograph is unknown, but it definitely does not date from the final winter of the war. Hitler last visited the Berghof in July 1944.

In the last few years, an enormous number of official color photographs of Germany during the war years has been released. Virtually all such photographs emanate from Russia. Such signifies that the Russians seized one or more German photographic archives in the final days of the war, transferred the archives to Moscow, sat on the archives for decades—and, in recent years, have finally begun to release such photographs on a piecemeal basis.

Hitler And Speer In Color

Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer, in a photograph almost certainly taken at Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s command complex secreted in a giant forest in Northeast Poland. The photograph was probably taken in 1943, to judge from the appearances of the two main subjects.

Wolf’s Lair, plans for which were laid as soon as Poland was overrun, was completed even before Germany invaded Russia in June 1941. The complex was built specifically to allow Hitler to direct activities on The Eastern Front from close range. Between June 23, 1941, Hitler’s first day at Wolf’s Lair, and November 20, 1944, Hitler’s final day at Wolf’s Lair, Hitler spent over 800 days at the complex.

Wolf’s Lair featured over 200 buildings, several of reinforced concrete. The complex had its own power station and its own railroad station. By the summer of 1944, over 2000 persons lived and worked year-round at Wolf’s Lair. Numerous mechanisms were used—including camouflage netting—to conceal the complex from the air.

The concealment was successful. Russian intelligence learned the location of Wolf’s Lair early in the war, but never succeeded in bombing the complex.

In early 1945, as Germany retreated in the face of the Russian advance, the Germans destroyed Wolf’s Lair insofar as possible—but there was little the Germans could do with the reinforced concrete structures, which survive to this day.

Officials in Poland announced earlier this year that Wolf’s Lair may be turned into a major tourist attraction if sufficient financing can be raised to build a modern road network into the forest, repair the surviving structures and erect a new tourist center.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

On Measurement

One of the hardest things for people to imagine is that they are not smarter than average.

Jonathan Fuerbringer


There is great truth in Fuerbringer’s statement.

Andrew’s father puts the same matter this way:

Whenever people wonder whether they’re smart, they need to look at their W-9s. Their W-9s will always give them the answer.