Ilka Talvi has some marvellous reminiscences about his studies with violin professors who seem to have had a penchant for breaking their pupils' bows, intentionally or not. At least Heifetz gave the poor Japanese girl he victimised in this way a new one. There's been a fair bit of controversy about Mr Talvi's blog - various forums ask what he hopes to achieve - but as someone who is a little too close for comfort to orchestral life, not to mention the violin in the front room, I find what he has to say fascinating. And I love stories about those Golden Age fiddlers.
I met another fiddler the other day - one with a difference. This one grew up to be a conductor. And the conductor turned into a composer. Now 75, he is about to have his first opera performed at Covent Garden and very scarey it sounds too. I got an emergency call last week asking me to interview him the same afternoon...well, I dropped everything and legged it to the Royal Opera House. The maestro was singularly charming (rather more so than a certain other gentleman I interviewed not long ago who answered questions monosyllabically - usually with "no" - before I'd finished asking them) and I read the libretto with hair standing on end. "1984" doesn't sound like an obvious subject for an opera, but the dramatists have certainly done Orwell proud; now we'll have to wait and see what the music is like... My article should be in the Independent on Friday or Saturday. Meanwhile, the Royal Opera House website has more details. Lorin Maazel's 1984 opens on 3 May.
Afterwards, I told Tom that this is what a violinist can achieve if he puts his mind to it. I don't think he was too pleased.
ADDENDUM, 21 APRIL 9.30am: here's another view on Maazel's 1984 from the inimitable Norman Lebrecht. He's concerned with rather different matters, but I agree with him that there should be far more of a buzz surrounding this event than there has been so far. Not sure exactly when my Indy piece will appear - it may not be tomorrow after all, since they are running something else of mine.....