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Classical 101

Do You Want Mushrooms with That?

A recent blog by Norman Lebrecht told of a certain radiologist who decided the best use of a CAT scanner was to try to discover the secrets of a Stradivarius.  (As news breaks out, we'll break in).  After replicating a Strad down to precise measurements of shape, thickness, and volume, they have discovered that...guess what...there must be more to it.  Imagine that!

The hypothesis is that "much of the tonal quality of Stradivari's instruments was likely due to the micro-structure and resonance characteristics of the wood of which they were made, caused by the growing conditions at the time."

So what was the next step?  "Why don't we rub it with mushrooms?"  OK, it's not quite that simple, but close.  Scientists are trying to replicate the growing conditions by treating the wood with Physisporinus vitreus, a white-rot fungus that destroyed certain structures in the wood.  I could go on, but I might be compelled to make a joke about getting one with mushrooms and double cheese. Read Stradivarius-Quality "Fungal Violins" (gizmag.com)

NYC Opera Facing the End?

Orchestra and singers' unions have both passed strike-authorization votes, saying the proposal from NYC Opera management would turn them into poorly-paid freelancers. Read NYC Opera Faces Tragedy Over Union Contracts (Crain's New York Business)

Gustav Leonhardt Says he Has Given his Final Performance

One of the giants of the music world, Gustav Leonhardt, has decided to cancel all engagements after feeling "tired and weak" after a performance Monday.  There is a written report in the French newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.  Below is a link to a rough translation.  A better one will soon follow as the news spreads across the music world. Read Music: Gustav Leonhardt Ends his Career (Le Nouvel Observateur)