Euro Classic Fantastique

It’s so cool we’re doing it in two installments.

Gustavo Dudamel leads the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra in the Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz – a performance recorded live last October at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.

It’s a long work, so we’re taking two Euro Classics to get it all in on Classical MPR. The first two movements (Dreams & Passions and A Ball) are at 12:05am (CDT, Thursday, Sept. 2) with the final three movements (Scenes in the Fields, March to the Scaffold, and Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath) to follow next Thursday (9/9, 12:05am, CDT).

Symphonie Fantastique is an epic work that tells the story of an artist’s self-destructive passion for a beautiful woman. And that artist just happens to be Berlioz himself.

Plus, it’s Dudamel….with two orchestras – that’s exciting all by itself. Hope you can stay up late this week and next, with Classical MPR.

Minnesota Orchestra (and MPR) at the Proms

Today’s the day when the Minnesota Orchestra begins its two-day stand at the Proms in London. MPR’s Brian Newhouse is also in London to host the broadcast, which you can hear at 1:30 (Minnesota time) this afternoon.

Britons who may be less familiar with the Orchestra and its conductor can do prep work by reading an article in Wednesday’s Telegraph. The headline writer may have gotten a tad carried away in describing the Orchestra’s pre-Osmo “obscurity”–but see what you think. Complete article here.

Sir James in Hollywood

I was checking out James Galway’s website this morning and noticed he’s playing a big gig with the LA Philharmonic and Leonard Slatkin tonight (8/26) at the Hollywood Bowl. Galway has made a most remarkable comeback after suffering a nasty fall at his home in Switzerland last December, just two weeks after turning 70.

The world-renowned flautist was forced to cancel three months of recitals after he plunged down a flight of stairs at his home in Lucerne, Switzerland, leaving him with a gash on his forehead, a fractured left wrist and shattered right elbow.

So well done, Sir James…definitely the front-runner for “Come Back Player of the Year.”

It's a job. It's a sign of the times. It's weird.

I’ve been closely following the unfolding drama in Cleveland over the re-assignment of Donald Rosenberg – the senior music critic for the Plain Dealer after he wrote a series of scathing reviews of the Cleveland Orchestra’s Music Director.

Sadly, the job of music critic for many papers around the country has all but disappeared. But in an unusual twist Timothy Mangun of the Orange County Register will be moved off the classical music beat to cover the “People” section of the paper.

He writes on his blog “I’ll be covering the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dr. Laura (did I spell those right?) and all the other worthies whom readers can’t get enough of. Drunken tirades, courtroom dramas and sex scandals will be the grist of my mill. No joke.”

Opera at 30,000 Feet

And now for something completely different.

On a flight from Manchester to Prague, U.K. based Bmibaby airlines invited members of the Prague State Opera to perform. Check out the video below as soprano Vera Likérová did the honors.

From the Musical America website:

“The spectacle was the first event in the airline’s ‘enterplanement’ season,” reports The Telegraph, “which will showcase the best acts from its European destinations over the coming months.”

Mozart Mortality: Multiple Choice

OK, class. The death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was caused by:

a. Poisoning

b. Infection

c. Cardiovascular disease

d. Kidney failure

e. Other

What’s the right answer? Actually, there’s no clear consensus, but one researcher has at least grouped the various conjectures–over 100 of them– into the five main categories above. Check out this<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/arts/music/25death.html?_r=1&hp

    “> New York Times article for all the theories that are fit to print. (Registration required.)

    (By the way: the Austrian National Library has put a huge amount of its newspaper holdings online, going back to the 18th century. You can go to this page to see the death notice for “Hr. Wolf. Amadeus Mozart” on December 5, 1791, the fifth line down. It’s in the old blackletter type–harder to read, but for modern eyes, it only adds to the somber mood.)

Friday the 13th fact

Gioachino Rossini was one of the millions haunted by the number thirteen and Friday – especially in combination.

In fact Italians for many generations before him saw these two entities as unlucky.

But any fear of the specific day “Friday the 13th” was not recorded until Rossini declared it so, making his claim the earliest reference to this day of bad luck.

So it’s rather remarkable that Rossini would leave this earth on a Friday, the 13th in one November back in 1868.

Coincidence? Who knows!

A Mozart Piano?

In a somewhat Antique-Roadshow news story, an 18th-century piano, owned by a German instrument builder, may now turn out to be a piano that Mozart played.

Of course, if that turns out to be so, the price that it could fetch will go up, many times.

There’s no question of its age, but the Mozart connection remains to be firmly established. See the whole story here.

PT…the Proms…Paul Lewis…and Beethoven

Paul Lewis was born in Liverpool two years after the Beatles broke up. Now he’s on a quest to become the first pianist to perform all five Beethoven piano concertos in one summer at the BBC Proms in London, although not necessarily in order. Order, shmorder.

Performance Today featured Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 on today’s show. No. 3 is coming up on Thursday’s program. No. 5 comes later this month.

And just in case you missed it back in July, here’s a sampling of Mr. Lewis at the Proms playing No. 4, with that exquisite opening phrase (it gets me every time).