Saturday, November 10, 2007

Venezuelan youth orchestrates political protest


Tens of thousands of students are expected to march through Caracas and other cities today in protest at Hugo Chávez's move to amend Venezuela's constitution, despite violence which has injured at least eight students.

Masked gunmen opened fire on a university campus in clashes between pro- and anti-Chávez groups in Caracas on Wednesday. The university said the government used thugs to intimidate protesters but Mr Chávez blamed the marchers. "They generally take the path of fascist violence and confront the laws and the people, and they are always looking to the Pentagon, high-ranking generals," he told a summit in Chile yesterday.

Campuses are the focus of opposition to Mr Chávez's referendum on December 2 to permit him to run indefinitely and accelerate what he terms a socialist revolution. Raul Isaias Baduel, a retired army commander and long-time Chávez ally, has joined the opposition to the draft constitution, saying it amounts to a coup.

Today's Guardian reports it. I wonder how many music blogs will even mention it?

Now playing - Deutsche Grammophon's great recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. This is what the Gramophone Good CD Guide said - It has become utterly impossible to keep track of all recordings of Beethoven's music ... So who would predict that anything new could possibly be added to what has so often been done, and done well? Thus we might have reasoned in the mid-1970s, but then the seemingly impossible came to pass. When Carlos Kleiber's recording of Beethoven's Fifth was issued in 1975 ... the great clock of Beethovenian interpretation struck the hour.

Carlos Kleiber's father, Erich, resigned his post as director of Berlin's Staatsoper in December 1934 in protest against the policies of the Nazis. He continued to work in Europe outside Germany, but the spread of Fascism forced him to leave the continent in 1939. Ironically it was to South America that Kleiber fled. He spent the years between 1939 and 1946 conducting less than world class orchestras in Argentina, Peru and Chile, and willingly accepted this as the price of his political beliefs.

In 1951 Erich Kleiber returned to Berlin and to the Staatsoper which was now in the communist sector of the city. The opera house itself had been destroyed in the last months of the war, and performances took place in the Admiralspalast, a former dance hall. Kleiber found post-war East Berlin politically brittle, and the working conditions in the still ruined city were extremely difficult. He resigned in March 1955 on principle after a dispute with the authorities over the removal of an inscription to Frederick the Great on the newly renovated Staatsoper building.

Carlos Kleiber was born in 1930 in pre-Nazi Berlin. In that year the highlights at the Staatsoper included its director, Erich Kleiber, conducting Darius Milhaud's new opera Christophe Colomb, Hans Pfitzner conducting his own Palestrina, and Richard Strauss conducting Intermezzo. So when Beethoven's Fifth finished on the CD player I switched to another DG disc, Christian Thielemann conducting the Orchester Der Deutsche Oper Berlin in three of the preludes from Palestrina and the prelude to Capriccio. Sadly the CD seems to be deleted, but recommended if you can find a copy.

Now read how the East Germans rewrote music history.
Do find a copy of Erich Kleiber, A Memoir by John Russell (Andé Deutsch 1957) if you can. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

5 comments:

Lapa said...

Hi. Nice blog and interesting. Cool layout w/ all the extra widgets :) Great job!!

Drew80 said...

Pliable, I agree with you completely about that Thielemann disc of Pfitzner and Richard Strauss. It is stunning.

In addition to the "Palestrina" preludes, I also very much appreciate the overture to "Das Kathchen Von Heilbronn", a piece I never encountered elsewhere. It is incredibly beautiful, and I am surprised it is never programmed.

Pliable said...

Thanks Drew. My search on amazon.co.uk found no trace of the Thielemann disc.

But I have just checked elsewhere, and it is available from Amazon Germany and some internet resellers including Caiman USA, the link is below.

The Amazon Germany price is 10.95€ so this is a real bargain - not to be missed.

http://www.amazon.de/Orchestermusik-aus-Opern-Pfitzner-Strauss/dp/B000001GWX/ref=sr_1_1/028-6209907-8158132?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1194731790&sr=1-1

Pliable said...

Also worth pointing out that Rafael Kubelik's complete Palestrina is in the catalogue, and is available at some very keen prices online.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pfitzner-Palestrina-Hans/dp/B0000012UR/ref=sr_1_2/203-0543184-4767151?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1194732134&sr=1-2

mostly opera... said...

I completely agree with your reservations on Dudamel/The youth orchestra and the largely uncritical coverage of many of the concerts by leading news media is a disgrace..Thanks for continuing to bring this important subject up.