Jimi Hendrix in London


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Jimi Hendrix in 1967

Jimi Hendrix in 1967

Mick Eve, sax player for Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames, was mooching around the musical instrument shops in London’s Denmark Street as one did in 1966. His friend Chas Chandler, whom Mick had known as bassist for the Animals but who had recently returned from a talent-fishing trip to America, ran out of a guitar store and said excitedly in broad Geordie: “Mick, Mick! You got to come and hear this bloke play; I found him in New York!”

“I don’t need to go into the shop, Chas,” replied Mick in droll Cockney, “I can hear ’im from ’ere,” which he certainly could – a restlessly remarkable, eerily savage sound emanating from within. This was the afternoon of 22 September 1966, Jimi Hendrix’s first full day in England.

Eve’s is one of the many stories not included in the biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side, narrating the life of unarguably the greatest guitarist and blues magician of all time, as he left New York for London.

Hendrix had arrived aboard a Pan Am flight, little known in his own country and a stranger to London. He had been born of Native and African-American blood in Seattle to a poor father who cared moderately for his son and a mother whom he adored but barely knew, and who died when Jimi was fifteen.

He had joined the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army to avoid a jail sentence for car theft (under a judge’s ruling) but hated the army immediately. A regimental report read: “Individual is unable to conform to military rules and regulations.” It is important, says Paul Gilroy, a historian of black culture, to see Hendrix as an ex-paratrooper who gradually became an advocate of peace.

Reared on Muddy Waters and Albert King, music was Hendrix’s love and after teaming up with army colleague Billy Cox on bass, he played for Little Richard and the Isley Brothers before venturing out on his own.

Hendrix collected a small coterie of dazzled admirers in New York, among them John Cale of the Velvet Underground who, after playing a concert with Patti Smith in Paris last week, recalled going down into a dive bar in Sullivan Street to see Hendrix play during the mid-60s. “There was this fella heckling him all the way through, giving him gyp until Hendrix said, ‘I see we’ve got Polly Parrot in the house tonight.’ He got no trouble after that.”

Hendrix also amazed Chandler at the Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village one night, enough to fly him to London where the hunger for blues was inexplicably greater than in America. “Black American music got nowhere near white AM radio,” says the man who met Hendrix at Heathrow, Tony Garland, who would manage Hendrix’s British company, Anim. “And Jimi was too white for black radio. Here, there were a lot of white guys listening to blues from America and wanting to sound like their heroes.”

One of them was Eric Clapton of Cream, who invited Hendrix to sit in on a performance of Howlin’ Wolf’s Killing Floor at Regent Street Polytechnic, but who afterwards told Chandler irritably: “You never told me he was that fucking good.”

In London, Hendrix with his band Experience forged a new soundscape, stretching the blues to some outer limit of expression, ethereal but fearsome, lyrical but dangerous, sublime but ruthless. And yet, he wrote: “I don’t want anyone to stick a psychedelic label round my neck. Sooner Bach or Beethoven.”

This was not serendipitous, nor was it as effortlessly “natural,” as Hendrix himself often suggested, or even pure genius: Hendrix had found an alchemist with sound in the unlikely form of a sonic wave engineer in the service of the Ministry of Defense, Roger Mayer.

Mayer was an inventor of electronic musical devices, including the Octavia guitar effect which created a “doubling” echo. “I’d shown it to Jimmy Page,” Mayer recalls at his home in Surrey, “but he said it was too far out. Jimi said, the moment we met: ‘Yeah, I’d like to try that stuff.’”

Mayer left the Admiralty and thus began a partnership that changed the sound of sound. “And don’t forget,” says Tappy Wright, who had been a roadie but joined the management team, “these were no Fenders or Stratocasters. These were Hofners we bought for a few quid. Very basic but stretched to the fucking limit.”

Mayer is fascinating on the science of the sound: “When you listen to Hendrix, you are listening to music in its pure form. . . . The input from the player projects forward the equivalent of electronic shadow dancing so that what happens derives from the original sound and modifies what is being played. But nothing can be predictive . . . if you throw a pebble into a lake, you have no way of predicting the ripples. It depends how you throw the stone, or the wind.”

Casting this magic around working men’s clubs in the north of England, and opening for the Walker Brothers and Engelbert Humperdinck, Hendrix forged his furrow with what Gilroy calls “transgressions of redundant musical and racial rules.”

“He would take from blues, jazz only Coltrane could play in that way,” says Keith Altham, a reporter for the New Musical Express, who became a kind of embedded Hendrix correspondent. “And Dylan was the greatest influence. But he’d listen to Mozart, he’d read sci-fi, and it would all go through his head and come out as Jimi Hendrix.”

Mozart, Handel, Bach, Mahler: influences which Hendrix listed in a collection of writings recently assembled by his friends Alan Douglas and Peter Neal to create the nearest we have to an autobiography. And appositely so, for Hendrix’s address in London, which he called “the only home I ever had,” with the only woman he ever really loved, was the same at which George Frederick Handel had resided in another era: 22 Brook St, London W1.

On the night he arrived in England, Hendrix met Kathy Etchingham, his match and lover. Her recollections are priceless: she remembers Hendrix buying music by Handel and jamming along with his guitar on the sofa. “People often saw Jimi on stage looking incredibly intense and serious,” she said over dinner in London a few years ago accompanied by her husband, an Australian GP. “And suddenly this smile would come across his face, almost a laugh, for no apparent reason.”

“I remember very well [Jimi] sitting on the bed or the floor at home in Brook Street; sometimes he would play a riff for hours until he had it just right. Then he’d throw his head back and laugh. Those were the moments he’d got it right for himself, not for anyone else.”

Except perhaps Kathy too: Hendrix wrote The Wind Cries Mary, her middle name, when she had stormed out after an argument.

Hendrix returned to America to record Electric Ladyland, during the making of which producer Eddie Kramer remembers “his wonderful, swaying dance coming off the keyboards [played by Steve Winwood], in a waltz with the guitar.” Hendrix then gave the name “Electric Ladyland” to his grand studio project in New York. And any suggestion that he had some kind of “death wish” is given the lie by his own written intentions to record there “something else – like with Handel and Bach and Muddy Waters and flamenco.”

Patti Smith remembers the opening party in summer 1970, from which Hendrix himself took a break to join her on the steps outside. “He was so full of ideas,” Smith recalls, “the different sounds he was going to create in this studio – wider landscapes, experiments with musicians, new soundscapes. All he had to do was to get over to England, play the [Isle of Wight] festival, and get back to work.”

Hendrix never made it back to work. He died in the street on which I was born: Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. I’d moved a block away by the time I picked up the Evening Standard on the way home from school on 18 September 1970, flabbergasted by the news. The front-page picture showed Hendrix playing at that Isle of Wight festival less than three weeks beforehand. I’d been there; his searing cry against war, Machine Gun, was still ringing in my ears.

Back home, I changed into all white and waited for cover of darkness to go round to 22 Lansdowne Crescent, where Hendrix had died in the basement, swallowing vomit after a night out with wine, amphetamines and a German girl called Monika.

There was no one there. I took a piece of chalk out of my pocket, scrawled “Kiss the sky, Jimi” on the pavement and crossed the road to ponder the gravity of the moment and place. A man emerged and washed away my scanty tribute with a mop.

Ed VulliamyThe Guardian


The Twyla Tharp Ballet We Nearly Lost


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Scene from Bach Partita

Scene from Bach Partita

A new ballet requires weeks of intensive rehearsal in order to reach the stage, and if it’s not properly taken care of, it can become extremely difficult to revive. In fact, if it isn’t performed for a substantial period of time, and if the dancers on whom it was made start to lose their muscle memory of the choreography, then the piece can slip away altogether.

Last fall, American Ballet Theatre rescued an important piece from that oblivion. Twyla Tharp’s rigorously beautiful Bach Partita had been made for the company in 1983, performed no more than ten times through 1985, and then vanished.

Thanks to the dedication of Susan Jones, a longtime and indispensable ballet mistress with the company – who was in the studio as Tharp’s assistant as the ballet was created thirty years earlier – Bach Partita came back to the stage. It was danced with astonishing commitment and panache by a new generation of dancers.

New Yorkers now have another chance to see this nearly-lost sensation. After playing Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater last year, it has returned to the space this month as part of ABT’s fall season in New York.

Back in 1981, the versatile and ever-surprising Tharp was on quite a roll with her own company. The Catherine Wheel, set to an original David Byrne score, played Broadway that year, and in 1982 she had a huge success with the sensuously elegant Nine Sinatra Songs. For her return to ABT (where she’d created the exuberant and witty Push Comes to Shove, a huge hit in 1976), Tharp chose a thirty-minute Bach score and choreographed fiercely complex, purely classical choreography for a cast of thirty-six.

New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff’s delivered an enthusiastic review: “Miss Tharp thinks amazingly big here in every sense of the word,” she wrote. “For the first time, she has attempted a true neoclassical ballet whose movement is rooted in ballet’s academic code rather than her own modern-dance idiom with incorporation of ballet steps.” She later described the piece as “a treasure house of dance invention for those fascinated by formal intricacy and experiments with movement.”

Recalling Bach Partita, Jones says, “I think it was really Bach that drove her. She has her point of view about the music and how it should be played, how it’s meant to be. She was really challenging the dancers. I think that the hardest thing for them – aside from absorbing Twyla’s style and getting it into their bodies – was the speed she required. It was choreographed to a Heifetz recording that is just faster than the speed of light!” [The ballet is always performed with a live violinist.]

The original cast included three principal couples, seven soloist couples, and an ensemble of sixteen women. “Twyla was developing her relationship with ABT and was discovering more things about the classical vocabulary,” recalls Robert La Fosse, who was the youngest of the six principals. “She was pushing the balletic partnering to new limits and challenging us with movements that changed directions constantly.”

Jones, who rehearses many Tharp dances, often staging them for various companies, is passionate about this one. “I feel it’s one of her best pieces. The fact that it’s Bach, and that it’s all of these dancers dancing their hearts out to this one violinist who’s making this incredible sound – I think it’s exhilarating. I didn’t think this ballet would ever go away.”

The challenge of finding a violinist who could play the score superbly at the tempi Tharp required was one reason the ballet slipped out of repertory. Programming demands – ABT devotes most of its performances to full-evening, narrative ballets – and other company considerations also played a role.

But Jones always kept it in mind. She recalls a 1996 dinner with Tharp when they discussed what it would take to get Bach Partita back on stage. Little did Jones realize, when about fifteen years later that became an actual possibility, how complicated the process would be.

No visual documentation of decent quality was available to help jog Jones’ memory. There was a black-and-white performance videotape, but it was overexposed. “At center stage, there was detail that was missing from the steps that I knew was there,” she says. “It was a process of seeing the root step and dusting off the cobwebs.” A studio rehearsal videotape was filmed a week before the premiere, but afterward Tharp made some pivotal changes in the distribution of the roles.

Over the years, Jones would urge Kevin McKenzie, ABT’s artistic director, to commit to a revival of the ballet. Considerable rehearsal time would be required, however, and casting the many demanding roles would be a challenge.

On her own, Jones began preparing. “Around 2011, I thought I would just start looking at these tapes. In whatever free time I had, I started notating and trying to reconstruct the ballet. And I did that for two years.”

Finally, last year, ABT had a longer-than-usual rehearsal period, substantial enough for Jones to delve into re-staging the work for the dancers of today. Tharp herself was present at rehearsals regularly for four of the six weeks. “She was really involved in the coaching. She knew that it needed that,” Jones says.

La Fosse was in the audience last November at the Koch to witness the rebirth of Bach Partita. “The new cast at ABT is superb,” he says. “They have a better grasp at the technical aspects of her style. It was like seeing a whole new ballet unfold in front of my eyes. So many moments stay in my memory. I can’t wait to see it again.”

For Jones, seeing the ballet come to life again was “incredible, really phenomenal.” But now that it’s back in repertory, her focus is on keeping it in top shape. “Now that they’ve gotten it in their blood, now it’s my job to make sure that the edge is there, and that they don’t let it become generic movement,” she says. “It has to reflect Twyla’s style. It’s part of the life of any ballet. You have to keep it fresh and keep the spontaneity there.”

Susan ReiterTDF Stages

Saturday Night at the Palladium


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The Hollywood Palladium

The Hollywood Palladium

Flux Pavilion recently said he does not believe dubstep is dying as a genre, and that certainly seemed to be the theme of the Safe In Sound Festival. Five artists lined up at the Hollywood Palladium on 18 October 2014 to prove that catchy synths and wobbling basslines are still very much in fashion.

One would not peg the Hollywood Palladium as a venue to host a music “festival,” but surprisingly, it gelled extremely well with the size and theme of Safe In Sound. The circular dance floor, surrounded by balconies on all sides, ensured that everyone could have the type of concert experience they preferred. Lines were manageable for the concert, and getting inside took less than fifteen minutes, which is almost unheard of for a lineup such as this one.

The lineup could best be described in one word: eclectic. Every single artist brought something new to the floor that distinguished him or her from the rest, yet kept with the dubstep genre in some way. Terravita opened up the night with some pulse pounding basslines and revved up the crowd in preparation for the bigger acts to come. The band’s style is most distinctly reflected in their popular single Bach Off, where they combine orchestral sounds akin to those of Bach [Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 565)] with nervewracking bass to create a powerful mixture. The trio, hailing from Los Angeles, proves that not everything in dubstep is generic.

Caked Up, the duo comprised of Oscar Wylde and Vegas Banger, went on next, showcasing the kind of music that can only be enjoyed with bass that pops eardrums. Their blend of trap and dubstep featured some surprises, such as a remix of the Tetris theme that nobody expected in what was an applause-worthy set.

It was at first confusing to see a drumset and guitars being set up on stage next, but all was explained once Destroid, the heavy metal trio, came on. Never has the medley of dark chords on the guitar, metal band screaming and wobbling bass sounded so right. Donning matching suits with Tron-esque lights synced to the music, their performance was certainly one to remember.

Then came on the first of the two headlining acts: Adventure Club. Their signature style of dubstep infused with reflective melodies and heartwarming vocals are always a pleasure to hear. They played tracks that have shot them up to fame and also debuted two unreleased singles. With some stage dives and bouncy props, they interacted with the crowd the most out of any act, which is admirable considering the size of the event.

Staying true to tradition, the festival saved the best for last, as a roaring crowd welcomed Flux Pavilion himself to the stage. His thumping beats infused with catchy synths stand as a testament to his superior control over this genre. But rather than stick to dubstep, Flux played tunes from a whole range of genres, including trap, drum and bass, and a great rendition of Queen’s We Will Rock You. He sent shivers through the crowd with his signature track, I Can’t Stop, and surprised everyone when he pulled out the theme for Star Wars Rebels that he had been working on. This was one night where Flux proved he was as diverse as any artist in the electronic dance music scene.

All in all, Safe In Sound was as its name describes; a comfortable and fun music experience that brought along some great surprises, a sold out Hollywood Palladium and stellar performances from each of the artists.

Aditya Sareen – Daily Trojan

A Bach Manuscript Is Magnified


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CanoncropHoughton Library at Harvard University has recently examined a Bach manuscript from their collection under a microscope capable of capturing images. Fascinating details of the seventh measure of Canon à 4. Voc: perpetuus (BWV 1073) emerge at high magnification, including bleeding ink at staff lines, individual ink particles and a densely woven network of paper fibers.

Houghton Library – Harvard University

Listening Without Preconceptions


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Mark Padmore

Mark Padmore

By his own admission, Mark Padmore is “not the kind of singer who thinks about my voice all the time,” he said in a recent interview. Which is not to say that Padmore  doesn’t sing well; his airy and exquisitely supple tone is a sonic delight. But the mechanics of producing beautiful sound have never been at the root of his artistry.

What makes Padmore special is instead a quality that he refers to more than once during a conversation as “being in the moment”: an expressive intensity that seeks to revitalize a relationship with a piece of music – both his own and an audience’s – without artifice, and without drawing attention to himself.

“What I’ve tried to do, kind of with everything, is to just be in that moment of really hearing everything for the first time,” he said by phone from New York. “It is actually a huge act of listening and concentration, moment by moment. My voice for this is absolutely at the service of putting across the text.”

The “this” he was referring to was Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244b), which he was in New York to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic, in a staging by director Peter Sellars that has become a landmark in visionary programming since its 2010 debut. Sellars’s version – a “ritualization,” as he calls it – is both abstract and charged with meaning, retelling the story of Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion in a way that connects its ancient roots to a contemporary sense of existential urgency.

Padmore has sung the Evangelist’s role hundreds of times, in both the St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion (BWV 245). DVDs of those productions – Matthew released in 2012 and John just last month – provide potent evidence of Padmore’s ability to transcend the limits of objective narration. In the St. Matthew Passion, the Evangelist becomes the visual center, drawing to himself the characters’ sorrow and scorn as he lies on a coffin-like box in the center of the stage. In the St. John Passion, he stares with sad disbelief at the chorus’s hunger for Jesus’ crucifixion. Throughout both works, his piercing blue eyes could tell the story on their own.

Performing Bach in this way exacts a substantial effort, Padmore explained. “I don’t have any time off in these performances,” he said. “I simply have to follow and be there and be participating, because I think that helps the audience to do the same. If I take time out, then the audience can also relax and allow themselves to just sort of listen to beautiful playing. But if I’m there, really attentive, then I think there’s a kind of a contract that we make: The audience has to do the same.

“I’ve very rarely encountered someone who speaks about the theology or about the meaning of the text,” he said of Sellars. “And I believe that, whatever your religious belief or no religious belief, it’s a piece that should get under your skin. You should not just be able to listen to it and say, this is a beautiful piece of music.”

At one point, Padmore explained that part of what makes the Sellars “ritualizations” of the Passions so successful is their radical ability to strip away a listener’s previous encounters with those pieces, urging them to experience the music without any prehistory. Likewise, Padmore’s ambition, regardless of the piece he is performing, is to help audiences shed preconceptions and allow them to encounter a work afresh.

“One of the problems with classical music repertoire in general is that we tend to know it, often from a favorite recording,” he explained. “And then there’s a danger that people will listen to this music as almost a sort of aide-memoire in performance, and just sort of say, ‘It sounds like the recording I love,’ or, ‘It’s slightly different and a bit annoying.’ But it’s always in relation to memory. And I think in a way what this performance tries to do is to make it something where you forget all of that, you actually live it for the first time.”

David WeiningerThe Boston Globe

The Silent Cantata


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SilentcropThe texts of Bach’s cantatas are problematic for many listeners in that they can be unintentionally humorous in their dramatic imagery, anachronistic in their theology or uncomfortable in their admission of guilt. In his “Bach: The Silent Cantata,” Burak Özdemir, born in Istanbul and now living in Berlin, drops the texts from the vocal lines of selected arias, whether they were originally intended for a soprano, alto, tenor or bass, and plays them on his bassoon. Without the text, the cause for the carefully contrived musical figuration falls away, and Özdemir creates an effect that is instructive. Since the music has been freed from the conceptual framework of the Protestant late Baroque, the text no longer dictates what must be thought. Now the listener can spontaneously investigate the music and delve more deeply into its meaning.

Özdemir has chosen relatively obscure sections of Bach cantatas, not the hits, making it unlikely that any listeners will try to sing along and thereby reinforcing the desired effect. But yet, with dialectical sophistication, he has carefully selected the pieces exactly because of their texts. The underlying, secretive affects of the music result in a dramatic progression of despair, loneliness and an eventual envelopment by love itself.

But not all listeners will understand the CD in this way. The quiet, melancholic and complicated pieces are accompanied by strings alone in arrangements that are deliberately less colorful than the Bach originals with winds. These reductions, performed by Musica Sequenza, deserve concentrated listening, and it is worth it, because Özdemir is a great musician with virtuosity far beyond sheer dexterity. With his variety of colors, articulation and vocal expression, his bassoon playing comes close to resembling patterns of speech, and even in the slowest arias, such as Die Seele ruht in Jesu Händen from Herr Jesu Christ, wahr Mensch und Gott (BWV 127) or Bete aber auch dabei from Mache dich, mein Geist, bereit (BWV 115), Özdemir and his ensemble have a rhythmic pulse and a swing that is rarely heard among other instrumentalists who adhere to the principles of historical performance practice.

KulturradioRundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg

Bach in Istanbul


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IstanbulcropOn 16 October 2014, the Kuijken Ensemble will perform at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul as part of the Turkish capital’s yearly Bach Days.

Violinist Sigiswald Kuijken will be joined by harpsichordist Benjamin Alard and soprano Marie Kuijken in the program “Towards Bach” that will feature works by Castello, Monteverdi, Scheidemann and Purcell as well as Bach’s Sonata (BWV 1019) and the soprano arias Genügsamkeit (from BWV 144), Seufzer, Tränen, Kummer, Not (from BWV 21) and Ich ende behende (from BWV 57).

St. Anthony of Padua Church, a minor basilica, was built in the early twentieth century by the local Italian community. Before he was elected to the papacy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was attached to the church when he was the Vatican‘s ambassador to Turkey.

Today’s Zaman

The Power of Candlelight


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A non-violent demonstration in Leipzig

A peaceful demonstration in Leipzig, 1989

Travelers to Germany in 2014, especially to Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig, may encounter a variety of celebrations honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the path toward reunification of the country. From 9 through 12 October 2014 the “Festival of Lights” will be a highlight in Leipzig, but it is the story behind the festival that must be told.

Many European cities have grand musical traditions. Leipzig is no exception for it is the city of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was choirmaster at the historic St. Thomas Church for twenty-seven years. Even without his considerable influence, the church would have had a rich legacy, but Bach’s reputation made it even more notable.

It was at St. Thomas Church, in 1539, that Martin Luther introduced the Reformation to Leipzig. Some two hundred fifty years later, in 1789, Mozart played the church organ there, and in centuries that followed both Felix Mendelssohn and Richard Wagner also performed at the church.

The church choir has been in existence since 1254. During Bach’s time there were fifty-four singers in the chorale. Today the world famous St. Thomas Boys Choir features the voices of eighty boys singing music particularly dedicated to Bach in weekly performances of motets and cantatas during regular Sunday services.

Bach was also choirmaster at St. Nicholas Church from 1723 to 1750. St. Nicholas is nearly a hundred years older than St. Thomas, dating to 1165, and when it was built, St. Nicholas Church was situated at the intersection of two important north-south, east-west trade routes which not only played an important role in Leipzig’s past, but it was also critical to the events that reunited Germany in 1989.

Each November during the early 1980s, young people from all over the region would gather at St. Nicholas Church for ten days of prayer for peace. There had been large demonstrations all over the German Democratic Republic protesting the arms race in those days, but the gatherings in Leipzig were regarded as little more than non-violent prayer vigils. The only places where issues could be openly discussed in Germany were at meetings held in churches, and St. Nicholas was one of those sites.

Soon a youth group from the church decided to increase the meetings by having prayer services every Monday evening. At first there were only a handful of attendees, but before long more people came to demand justice and respect for human rights. Many who participated were non-Christians, but, with no other place to gather, they regularly attended the meetings. They studied the words of the Old Testament and the Sermon on the Mount, and eventually they came to understood two things: that people should discuss urgent problems with each other and that they also needed to meditate and pray to God for support and guidance.

Slowly the movement gathered strength. Each day the church was decorated with flowers. Each night it was filled with the light of hundreds of glowing candles. After a while the government took notice and became concerned. From May of 1989 all access roads to Nicholas Church were blocked by police checkpoints.

Authorities exerted pressure to cancel the peace gatherings, but the prayers continued. Monday after Monday the meetings were held even though many were detained or arrested. Soon it became impossible for everyone to get into the church because the numbers were so great. Yet, still they came.

Early in October 1989, St. Nicholas Church was filled with more than two thousand people inside with thousands more out in the streets. When the prayers ended, the bishop gave his blessing and made an urgent appeal to the congregation for non-violence. As people departed the church, they were greeted by thousands of fellow East Germans standing in the square, standing with candles in their hands.

To carry a candle outdoors requires two hands. One holds the candle while the other prevents it from going out. In order to keep a candle burning it is not possible to carry a stick or a club or a stone.

It was a miracle. When police arrived and surrounded the crowd, they didn’t know what to do. They were bewildered and quickly lost their incentive to fight. For the protesters this was a peace vigil, and they were armed only with candles. Soon the police began mingling and talking with the people. Eventually they withdrew. As one officer said, “We were prepared for everything. Everything, that is, except candlelight.”

The non-violent peace movement lasted just a few weeks more before the government collapsed. Not long after, about two hours northeast of Leipzig, the notorious Berlin Wall went crumbling to the ground.

Bob TaylorCommunities Digital News

Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)


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HogwoodcropChristopher Hogwood, whose Academy of Ancient Music was a key ensemble in the period-instrument movement, striving to perform early music as the composer intended and as audiences were first presumed to have heard it, died on 24 September 2014 at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 73.

Mr. Hogwood, a conductor, harpsichordist and scholar for whom an “authentic sound” was paramount, co-founded the Early Music Consort, which focused on medieval and Renaissance music, in 1967, but the paucity of information regarding historically accurate performance styles troubled him. The Academy, which he established in 1973 as “as a sort of refugee operation for those players of period instruments who wanted to escape conductors,” initially focused on seventeenth and eighteenth-century music. While praised for their buoyancy and stylishness, his interpretations were also sometimes criticized as dry and unemotional.

One of the group’s significant early achievements was its 1980 recording of Handel’s Messiah, with the soprano Emma Kirkby. Peter G. Davis, writing in The New York Times, said it was “like no Messiah ever heard before in this century,” a performance that embodied the aesthetic championed by Mr. Hogwood: buoyant playing on gut strings with minimal vibrato.

Mr. Hogwood’s more than two hundred recordings include the complete Mozart symphonies and the complete Mozart piano concertos, with the pianist Robert Levin.

Mr. Hogwood, who early in his career played continuo in Neville Marriner’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, was once referred to as “the von Karajan of early music” – a reference to Herbert von Karajan, who in addition to being one of the twentieth century’s most important conductors was a famously imperious personality. In a phone interview, the violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk, a member of the Academy of Ancient Music since 1984, disagreed; in fact, he said, “Anyone less like von Karajan is hard to imagine.” Mr. Hogwood, he added, “was very collaborative and always happy to defer to the musicians if they had a better idea.”

During a concert in 2011 at Alice Tully Hall, where he directed Juilliard415, the school’s period-instrument ensemble, Mr. Hogwood announced to the audience, “Instead of standing here, anachronistically waving my arms, I’ll join you.” He then left the stage and took a seat in the hall to listen.

Early in his tenure as the artistic director of the Boston-based Handel and Haydn Society, which lasted from 1986 to 2001, Mr. Hogwood converted the ensemble to an exclusively period-instrument group. The Society’s major collaborations included a staging of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with the Mark Morris Dance Group as well as projects with the jazz pianists Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea. Mr. Hogwood had a particular affinity for Mendelssohn and was scheduled to conduct the composer’s Elijah in March 2015 with the Handel and Haydn Society.

In 2008 he became director emeritus of the Academy of Ancient Music, succeeded by the harpsichordist Richard Egarr.

In addition to period ensembles, Mr. Hogwood led orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony. He also conducted opera, including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at La Scala in 2006; among the operas he recorded were Handel’s Agrippina, Alceste, Orlando and Rinaldo. He also conducted the works of more modern composers like Stravinsky, Copland and Tippett.

Mr. Hogwood wrote several books, including a biography of Handel first published in 1984 and revised in 2007, and prepared many scholarly editions of scores, which he used for his own performances, often correcting previously published mistakes.

He held academic positions at the Royal Academy of Music, King’s College London, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Cornell and Gresham College, London.

Christopher Jarvis Haley Hogwood was born in Nottingham, England, on 10 September 1941, the son of Haley and Marion Hogwood. His father was a physicist, his mother a secretary for the International Labour Organization. He studied literature and music at Pembroke College, Cambridge; his harpsichord teachers included Gustav Leonhardt.

Some musicians and scholars now believe that modern instruments allow for greater interpretive possibilities than original instruments – that the wonders of Bach’s music, for example, can be best illustrated on a modern piano. But according to Mr. Hogwood, “the theory that Mozart’s music was simply awaiting the invention of the Steinway is wrong.”

In a recent interview with The Juilliard Journal, Mr. Hogwood said: “You can play things stylishly on the wrong instruments or unstylishly on the right instruments; I hope we’ll get it stylish on the right instruments. It’s just clearing the way so that people hear them as the composer intended, and if he wasn’t a complete idiot, the way he intended is presumably the correct way for them.”

Vivien SchweitzerThe New York Times

Jacques Hnizdovsky


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Woodcut by Hnizdovsky, 1971

Woodcut by Hnizdovsky, 1971

Jacques Hnizdovsky was born in 1915 in Ukraine to descendants of a noble family bearing the Korab coat of arms. Being titled landowners, his parents were exiled to Siberia, but his mother managed to send him a secret message while he was away in boarding school. Realizing that he could never return home, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, but when the Second World War broke out, he quickly transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. After many difficult years in war-torn Europe and Displaced Persons Camps, Hnizdovsky emigrated to the United States in 1949.

Shortly after his arrival in the US, A. Hyatt Mayor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art chose one of his woodcuts for a Purchase Award at a 1950 Minneapolis Institute of Art print exhibition. It was a turning point in his career. From that moment on, he was determined to make his livelihood as an independent artist and moved to New York City. Hnizdovsky proceeded to create hundreds of paintings, numerous watercolors and pen and ink drawings, as well as over 375 prints. In 1962 he was awarded the First Prize at the Boston Printmakers annual exhibition for “The Sheep,” which was to become his best-known print.

Hnizdovsky’s work can be best described as stylized realism and draws inspiration from Dürer, Ukiyo-e and Chinese painting. While he became most famous for his prints of animals and trees, Hnizdovsky probably created more paintings than prints. His routine was to paint during the day and work on his prints in the evenings. Weekends were reserved for printing woodcuts, linocuts and etchings.

Jacques Hnizdovsky died in 1985 in New York.

The Hnizdovsky Estate


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