In today’s Guardian, Charlotte Higgins gains access to the composer’s medical notes, which were not available to his biographer, Paul Kildea. She also talks to the senior registrar who looked after Britten in hospital at the time Kildea says he was found to have syphilis. The notes give no indication of venereal disease, even by euphemism, and the cardiologist says the circumstances described by Kildea are ‘rubbish’.
The 120 th anniversary of the world famous ballet ‘Casse-Noisette’ or ‘The Nutcracker ‘ is celebrated on 18th December. The music was composed by Russian composer Tchaikovsky and choreography was arranged by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. The premiere took place at the Mariinsky theatre on a wintry Sunday in St Petersburg. Unfortunately, the story drawn from ETA Hoffmann’s ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ was not an immediate success – although the twenty-minute Nutcracker Suite did strike the right chord with the audience . By the 1960s the whole Nutcracker ballet had become an essential part of popular repertoire, particularly during the Christmas season.
Lebrecht Music & Arts carries photos from the original 1892 production and also many famous Sugar Plum Fairies such as Margot Fonteyn, Tamara Karsavina and Daria Klimentova. Irek Mukhamedov and Harold Turner are dancers remembered for their performances in this ballet. And, of course photographs of many of the great Bolshoi productions and with a more modern twist, the Matthew Bourne dance company.
Ravi Shankar, Indian sitar player who performed with Yehudi Menuhin and taught Beatle George Harrison how to play this instrument, passed away yesterday aged 92. (born 7 April 1920 – 11 December 2012). He was described as one of the best known contemporary Indian musicians. His two daughters, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar, are also successful musicians.
28 December 2012 will mark 75 years since the death of French composer Maurice Ravel. Perhaps best known for his orchestral work Boléro, which was originally commissioned as a ballet by Russian ballerina Ida Rubenstein, he ranks as one of the most influential composers of the early 20th century.
Click on the image below to see a selection of Ravel images from the Lebrecht Music & Arts collection: