Archive for June, 2011

Stradivarius Sold for Tsunami Relief

by: Jake DeBacher

One of the world’s most incredible instruments was auctioned yesterday for a jaw-dropping (and record-breaking) $15.9 million, all of which will go to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fun.

The violin, known as the “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius, was made in 1721 and is one of the two best-preserved instruments by 18th century luthier Antonio Stradivari. Because the winner of the auction has chosen to remain anonymous, it is uncertain whether the violin’s new home will be in a museum or the hands of a player. While such an artifact would be a worthy addition to a museum’s collection, it would be quite a shame for such an incredible instrument to gather dust.
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Who knew elderly musicians could heckle?

Riots not just for hockey fans

by: Jake DeBacher

I heard once that in the classical music world you get one good riot per century. I suppose it’s not all that surprising. Art is naturally progressive—forever moving towards the unknown and therefore the disturbing. Many audiences find themselves pigheadedly prescribed to the traditions with which they developed, to the point where deviations are met with wary unwelcome. Friction develops between traditionalists and innovators, and environments to alleviate it are few and far between. Thus, pressure builds until it can be suitably (and publicly) released. For example, take a gentleman on his way to a premiere at his favorite concert hall. He puts on his fine charcoal suit. He and his wife go to dinner beforehand and select a pricier wine. He arrives at the venue and takes his seat next to his friends, also veterans of the symphony’s many seasons. The lights dim and he settles in for the music. It begins, but something is off. These harmonies, the rhythms, the melodies, they’re all wrong. It just sounds bad. Where are the cadences? What happened to the march? Just a week ago, Beethoven’s 9th was played on this very same stage! This outrage, this meaningless noise, doesn’t deserve to share a stage with Beethoven! And it’s not just this piece. All these young “revolutionaries” are trying to upset a beautiful and noble tradition, one which can stand just fine on its own. It’s not hard to see how this could escalate if the entire audience feels this way, or (perhaps worse yet) if half the audience feels this way while the other half is enjoying innovation.

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Speculators Say Philly Forecast Dim

“bankruptcy court is no place to be to simply
ponder the future, or one’s navel” (Mark Shwartz)

by: Colin Oettle

Mark Schwartz is a lawyer who believes The Philadelphia Orchestra’s “plodding” bankruptcy court proceedings don’t bode well for the organization. In an article for, he compares the orchestra’s situation to that of the Barnes Foundation—a case in which he blames a misguided board of directors for prematurely forcing its organization into court. Barnes is an educational art and horticultural institution that sought court approval to move from a suburb of Philadelphia to a more city-accessible site under the pretense of financial hardship. The move would directly violate the organization’s “indenture of trust,” which stipulates its art holdings are not to be relocated.

Schwartz’s criticism is that Barnes claimed an inability to raise $1.5 million for annual costs, but mustered $150 million once the relocation of the gallery was approved. Fearing the Philly Orchestra may be guilty of something similar, Schwartz points out that bankruptcy court is not somewhere organizations should seek to be. Short of a quick in-and-out to “shed obligations and return to business,” prolonged litigation could threaten the orchestra’s stability as well as its reputation. Players are rumored to be coursing the job market for more stable positions, and subscribers share in the frustration of their orchestra’s turmoil. Who is really benefiting when a near-bankrupt orchestra spends hundreds of thousands on legal fees? View Full Article »

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