Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Today, the Winter Solstice and shortest day, it's our very own music awards ceremony online. Welcome to the Cyberposhplace, enjoy a glass of Virtualvintagechampers and now let's have a big round of applause for each and every musician who has touched the soul of his or her audience during the past 12 months....Thank you! Quiet, please...and now would the winners please get ready to approach the podium where Solti will allow you to stroke the ginger stripes and will give you a very special purr...

Icon of the year: Daniel Barenboim, for his inspirational work with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. And his Bach playing on the piano.

Pianist of the year: Grigory Sokolov and Krystian Zimerman, who have to share this for two glorious London recitals between which I cannot choose.

String player of the year: violinist Philippe Graffin, for a phenomenal recital at Conway Hall, glorious Faure at the Wigmore Hall with the Razumovsky Ensemble, the beautiful CD 'In the Shade of Forests', and, of course, the Coleridge-Taylor Concerto at the Proms.

Singer of the year: Cecilia Bartoli. I will never forget that performance in Rome as long as I live.

Young artist of the year: pianist Simon Trpceski, who I am sure will be one of the 'greats' by the time he's 40. I can't do the accents in my browser.

Conductor of the year: Vladimir Jurowski. There's no hotter property on the podium.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Franz Schubert. This is cyberspace, so anything can happen.

Take a bow, everybody...Thank you. Thank you for your moving, uplifting, inspiring, life-enhancing music-making. You're wonderful. We love you.

And now a few personal highlights of 2005:

Proudest moment: Signing my book deal.

Next-proudest moment: Being The Times's Blog of the Week.

Another very proud moment: hearing from my editor at the Indy that Pete Townshend liked my article about The Who.

Most affecting moment: a friend playing a wonderful concerto in our front room a few days after the London bombings. A truly beautiful evening that I'll always remember with a hefty lump in my throat.

Most unfortunate moment: runthrough at Stephen Kovacevich's, when Tom fainted.

Biggest sigh of relief moment: the Elgar Birthplace Museum Concert, which we got through unscathed and with which we were pleased.

Memorable though questionable moment: when Solti brought in a live mouse during a dinner party and deposited it with pride and gratitude at the feet of Hodder & Stoughton's fiction publishing director.

Personality of the year: my nephew, Luca (current age 15 months).

Feline of the year: Sir Georg 'Ginger Stripes' Solti, who would never let me get away with voting for any other cat.

Man of the year: Tom.