- As of Monday, New York City Opera had locked out orchestra and chorus members though the company's first production of the 2011-12 season, a weeklong run of La Traviata at the Brooklyn Academy of Music scheduled to begin Feb. 12. Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the opera, says City Opera is taking things 'one day at a time.' But with a first performance scheduled for Feb. 12 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, time is running out.
- At age 52, bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff is bidding "auf wiedersehen" to the concert stage. In an official announcement of his retirement released by his management, the celebrated singer said, "After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness."
- Bulgarian-born pianist Alexis Weissenberg, whose musical talent as a youngster probably saved his life and that of his mother from the Nazis, died this past Sunday at age 82.
- A brief piano piece written by Brahms in 1853 called Albumblatt ("Album Sheet") has been newly rediscovered by Christopher Hogwood at Princeton University's library. It will be performed on BBC Radio 3 by pianist Andras Schiff Jan. 21.
- And newly rediscovered in Germany: a six-page letter written by Beethoven in 1823. "In the letter, Beethoven asks harpist and composer Franz Anton Stockhausen to help find advance buyers for his Missa Solemnis mass. He also wrote about an eye disorder from which he was suffering at the time. 'My low salary and my illness demand efforts to make a better fortune,' said Beethoven."
- New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander says he was fired after the school learned he had hired a registered sex offender as the ensemble's videographer.
- The San Antonio Opera seems to be going under. While the current season hasn't been "officially" cancelled, all remaining performances for 2011-12 are off the boards — and the company has left its offices.
- More bad news: New York's Trinity Church has suspended its famed and ambitious music programming. The church has been a focal point for classical music in the city, and presented ten concerts for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 (one of which was webcast here on NPR Music).
- L'affaire marimbaire at the New York Philharmonic has blown up into an internationally reported incident. A guy seated in the front row at a concert had a brand-new iPhone whose alarm went off mid-music — and went on for several minutes. Alan Gilbert stopped Mahler's ninth Symphony dead in its tracks. A first-hand account: "Gilbert said something like, 'Are you finished?' The guy didn't move a muscle. Gilbert: 'Fine. We'll wait.' And he turned to the podium and [laid] down his baton."
- The New York Times interviewed the ashamed offender (whose identity the paper agreed to conceal): "I hope the people at that performance and members of the orchestra can certainly forgive me for this whole event. I apologize to the whole audience." He also apologized to Gilbert by phone.
- Hilarious: over on YouTube, a wag has posted a clip of Bernstein conducting Mahler 9 ... overlaid with the iPhone marimba ringtone.
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